High Efficiency Washers?

You can have 8 shower heads in your shower, but I can no longer have 30 gallons of water to wash my underwear.

I refuse to buy a high efficiency washer and I mean it.

I found out the hard way about “high efficiency” washers.  

One day I smelled burning rubber while in my back yard and when I followed my nose, it took me to my garage where my 11 year old washer had stopped spinning and burned up the rubber belt.  As it was 11 years old, I was ok buying a new washer and looked forward to delivery of a shiny new appliance.

The next day I went to my local Home Depot and met Steve.  I bounced into the appliance dept all ready to make my selection, and Steve asked “Do you know about high efficiency washers”.  I said no, thinking it was some new option but as Steve went on with his story, I could feel a problem on the horizon. Despite my clarifying questions, it just sounded crazy that now all washers would decide how much water is needed based on each individual load and the washer would also determine when each load was done! The news just got worse and worse.  The thought of having a friend out of state buy me a washing machine and then have it shipped to me in California crossed my mind but alas, this new theory of washing your clothes with little water and using sensors to determine when the load was done was nationwide, not just in California.  Steve recommended just fixing my current machine and I agreed.

The next day I called the manufacture of my washer and they gave me three names of repair guys in my area.  The first one had a real bad attitude so I went to next on the list and I was scheduled for the next day.

Enter stage left, repair guy #1, with his son of about 25 years of age. Clearly the son was being trained to take over the business some day.  The son was overly friendly and talked excessively but his father said little and got right to work. I watched from a far because no one likes to be watched over their shoulder when they work. As my washing machine and dryer are in my garage, I made myself busy in tiding up my work bench and tool drawers. 

The father gave the son instructions numerous times to start and stop the washer and I saw the kid handling the knob and dial in a very abusive manner which was totally unnecessary.  A toddler could turn the dial, there was NO need for brut strength at all. After watching this for a few moments I could see that he was pushing and pulling the dial in and out so recklessly the entire back panel of the washing machine board was now loose and bending backwards.  At this point I went up to the washer and pulled the back panel up to its normal position and said “what happened here?”, and the kid replied “it was like that”.  

The father announced that the ($15.00) rubber belt was on and that the washer was fixed and that did appear to be so.  I pointed out that now the back panel was broke and additionally the knob and dial were not working correctly.  In order to use the knob/dial now, you had to get it in right position to make it turn. The father looked at it and said “you probably need a new timer” to which i replied “how much are timers” and he said “about $260.00” and informed me that I should call them if i wanted them to do this additional new job. They left and I was left standing with my mouth open stunned at what had just happened.  I got a $15.00 belt replaced for $100.00 and they broke a $260.00 timer and $36.00 worth of plastic clips. 

 I was able to do laundry but the dial was not working right and I knew it needed repair for long term use so I called an appliance repair guy with a lot of 5 star Yelp reviews.  Enter repair guy #2. When he came out (same day) he took a look at the situation and said he wasn’t sure he could fit it and that I owed him $69.00 for the trip.

I did not want to buy a high efficiency washer and vowed to just repair my washer so I purchased the new timer from Amazon.  When it arrived it had a ‘refurbished’ sticker on it, so that required several phone calls and I got a partial refund. I called a few other appliance guys from Yelp with LOTS of 5 star reviews and none could guarantee that they could do the job so I called back the father and son team, against my better judgement, and I was scheduled for the next day which was Saturday.  It was my plan to monitor the kid so he didn’t abuse any other parts of the washer but to my delight another assistant was brought along instead!  They installed the timer and I duct taped the back board into place after they left because I didn’t want them to have to take apart the washer any further in order to get the new clips installed. I would rather live with the duct tape on the back and sides instead of risking more/new problems. 

Over the next four weeks I did four loads of laundry and on load five the burning rubber smell returned so I had repair guy #3 out, a referral from a friend.  Enter repair guy #3.  He noticed that one of the pulley’s was badly cracked in a few places and determined that was the cause of the burning rubber belts. He replaced the pulley and belt, changed me $160.00 and left.

The next day, on my second load of laundry I almost burned the garage down.  Smoke so thick I couldn’t see 3 feet in front of me. I called back repair guy #3, he returned and suggested that I buy a used washer from him for $500.00 (no refund or partial refund given by the way). I wasn’t going to do that but it did give me an idea as I still refused to buy a high efficiency washer.  Did I mention all thousands of negative reviews of these HE washers?  People furious that the water doesn’t even cover the clothes being washed!  I’m Italian and we like to cook pasta in a lot of water and we like to wash clothes in a lot of water too.

I got on the internet and searched for estate sales in high profile cities like Newport Beach and Corona Del Mar and came across California Estate Sales and Auction Company.  Additionally it appeared they only dealt with high end estate sales so this was the perfect find for me. I attended their next few estate sales in Newport Beach and tada…I came across a Speed Queen washer that looked like new. It clearly had been handed with care. Turns out it was out of a second (vacation) home from a family who lived in Chicago and only used the home a few weeks out of the year. 

I got a like new washer for a great price and we are now living happily ever after. This was such a learning lesson for me. As so many things are just not made like they used to, I now keep watch for all high end estate sales for opportunities to buy superior products that are now impossible to find.