They Used To Last 50 Years

48

Pile of scrap appliances.

Now refrigerators last 8–10 years, if you are fortunate. How in the world have our appliances regressed so much in the past few decades?  I’ve bought and sold refrigerators and freezers from the 1950’s that still work perfectly fine. I’ve come across washers and dryers from the 1960’s and 1970’s that were still working like the day they were made. Now, many appliances break and need servicing within 2-3 years and, overall, new appliances last 1/3 to 1/4 as long as appliances built decades ago. They break more frequently, and sooner, than ever before. They rust and deteriorate much quicker than in the past. Why is this happening, and what’s really going on? I’ve been wrestling over these questions for years while selling thousands of appliances, and more recently, working with used appliance sellers and repair techs all across the country. The following is what I’ve discovered.

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A 1950’s Hotpoint Refrigerator I purchased a few years back, worked perfect and had the original paint job. Almost 60 years old.

1. Not enough competition. There are basically only four major appliance manufacturers in the world, down from a dozen or more.  With competition between companies, the net result was appliances that would last for decades before needing service or replacement. Then over time, Whirlpool and Electrolux slowly bought them all. Here is the latest breakdown of who owns what.

Whirlpool (United States) now owns and makes Admiral, Jenn Air, Magic Chef, Maytag, Amana, Estate, Inglis, KitchenAid, Kirkland, Roper and among many others that are lesser known.  Whirlpool is the world’s leading manufacturer of appliances. Whirlpool also makes appliances for other brands such as Ikea, Crosley, Kenmore etc.

Electrolux (Sweden) owned GE until June 2016 (now owned by Haier), Electrolux, Frigidaire, Gallery, Gibson, Adora, Americana, Eterna, Hotpoint, Profile, RCA, Tappan and White Westinghouse among many others that are lesser known. Electrolux is the second largest manufacturer of appliances in the world.

Haier (China) GE and Haier

Recently LG and Samsung have gotten into the appliance industry – they are the other two major appliance manufacturers. They sell under their own name and both manufacture and sell smaller home appliances like air conditioners and microwaves for other companies.

Less competition is bad for consumers in almost every respect. It’s easier for them to keep appliance prices high, parts prices high and standards equally poor. Since they own all the brands, they can have several cranking out very poor quality machines and have it not affect their overall brand. If any of those sub brands ever starts to do poorly, they can make the brand disappear and start pushing another one of their brands.

A vertical modular washer. Note that they have led lights under the timer.
A vertical modular washer. Note that they have led lights under the timer.

2. More parts are being designed to fail. The quality, or longevity of parts has been in steady decline over the past 10-15 years. Let me start with an example: for top loading washers and dryers two of the most expensive parts on the machines are the timer and motor. For decades there were rarely issues with these two parts, but over the past 10 years there has been a plague of washer and dryer timers and motors that fail and have to be replaced. This has been a huge step backward for the appliance industry. On the off chance a person pays someone to come out and diagnose the issue, they find out the part will be over $100 and the repair total often comes to a few hundred at the minimum. When people find this out, they usually replace the machine. The quicker a part breaks, the quicker the consumer buys a new appliance. Motors last about 1/3 to 1/4 as long as they used to. Lid switches are glued together and eventually split and break. (solution is wrapping a zip tie around the lid switch to reinforce it, but though the problem has been known for probably 20 years, nothing has been done). Refrigerator door seals are glued on now instead of screwed on, and because of this they eventually start to pull away from the fridge, warp and ultimately fail, which, you guessed it, leads to replacement. These are issues that were figured out decades ago and there is absolutely no excuse for them to be happening today unless these companies are purposely regressing. There is no other way to explain it.

It’s not just the parts, but the entire design of the machines. For example, one of, if not the best selling washing machines of all time was the direct drive Whirlpool washing machine. They made those splendid washers for a little over 30 years. Then a few years ago they replaced the direct drive with the “Vertical Modular Washer”. These new washers can be recognized by the led lights under the timer as you see in this picture, and can often be seen in large quantities at your local scrap metal yard. They are one of the worst designed washing machines ever produced and you will encounter serious problems within 1-3 years of purchasing one. They replaced the most reliable washer with the least reliable washer.

Another example is the Frigidaire dishwashers. They can often be found for $300 at big box retailers, but they usually break within 2-3 years. I’ve talked with appliance repair techs that have been called to hundreds of homes that have these broken dishwashers in them and joked to me that they called them disposable dishwashers. Dishwashers have been found in almost every home since the 1970’s, how could we be creating them over 40 years later to only last a couple years before breaking? It’s either incompetence or more likely, planned obsolescence.

3. There is too much confusion over who is making quality appliances. Who makes the best top loading washing machine? That used to be Maytag, then for some reason the quality of their washers went in the tank and Whirlpool top loading washers became the best. (Whirlpool made Kenmore’s washers for over 20 years). Then all of a sudden Whirlpool stopped making those incredible direct drive washers a few years ago. Now LG makes the best top load washing machines. Here’s the confusing part: those great Whirlpool washers made under the above brands all have a good name in consumers minds, but now they are all getting a bad reputation because the new washers being produced are very poor quality. So what was the best is now the worst, and millions of people do not know that.

When I observe how these large appliance manufacturers act I think of the mattress industry. What is a good mattress to buy? How much should it cost? Where you should purchase it? All answers you probably do not know, nor do most people, because the mattress industry has more makes and models of beds than you can shake a stick at.  It seems like each year they come out with 12 models of beds and to top it off they give the same mattresses different names for different stores!  That is absolutely great for manufacturers because it makes it impossible for consumers to hold them accountable and for an accurate review system to be in place. The appliance industry is not too much better. Whirlpool makes the same washers and markets them under different names as do other manufactures of different kinds of appliances. It’s almost like these manufacturers don’t want consumers to focus on one brand over another but rather on creating appliances that need to be replaced as quickly as possible to drive more sales.

4. Appliances are being designed to rust away

One of the most glaring differences between modern appliances and those produced 40 years ago was the quality of paint job. Newer appliances start rusting within even a year or two whereas I’ve seen washers and dryers and other appliances from 40 years ago that are still rust free. How could this be? There are a number major reasons I’ve identified.

Rusty lid in a newer Whirlpool washing machine.
Rusty lid in a newer Whirlpool washing machine.
  • A. Painting techniques have changed. For a long time washing machine lids used to be dipped in paint, so that every surface, nook and cranny could receive an adequate amount of paint to prevent rust. This was very effective and kept rust out, often times for decades. Now washer lids mostly are sprayed. The problem with this is that you physically cannot spray parts of the lid because of angles, so they do not receive any paint. Can you guess where the first part to rust is on a top loading washing machine? The lid! I’ve seen new washer lids begin to rust within a year. Over time the rust builds up and becomes an eyesore and eventually starts dropping rust flakes in the washer.
  • B. Quality and thickness of paint has changed. Appliances used to receive multiple coats of paint so that the paint job would hold up for a long time. Scratches are inevitable, but when there are multiple layers of paint, they are less likely to rust. Many new appliances have the thinnest of paint jobs and appear to have the bare minimum that the manufacturers can get away with. The end result is that appliances have rust issues all over the place. 
  • C. Thickness of metal has changed. Appliances manufacturers used to use much thicker gauges of metal. These naturally gave the paint jobs better structural support to prevent paint chipping and also resisted rusting through for much longer. Now the metal is so thin that once exposed to water, the metal walls of modern appliances often rust all the way through which was unheard of in older appliances. You can also tell by the weight differences in older vs newer appliances. Older appliances would often weigh 20-40 lbs more per machine just because of the extra thickness in metal. Thin metal rusts and deteriorates much quicker, as well as dent much easier.

    Appliances like this 30+ year old freezer used to be smooth and have thicker metal.
    Appliances like this over 30 year old freezer used to be smooth and have thicker metal.
  • D. The surface of metal has changed. Almost all appliances used to incorporate totally flat, smooth surfaces. This made them easier to paint, easier to clean the surface and at the same time would not hold extra dirt and moisture. Newer appliances often have textured or tiny eggshell surfaces, sometimes all over, sometimes just the sides. This is the worst possible surface as it hold dirt and moisture and leads to accelerated rusting. I live in Hawaii, and it would blow your mind how quickly refrigerators rust out here on these textured appliance surfaces. 
  • When appliances rust, it’s only a matter of time before people replace them. A rusty appliance is bad for consumers and the environment, so you would think manufacturers would be still creating appliances that have paint jobs that last for decades. But appliance manufacturers make money only when people buy new appliances, and by making appliances that rust more quickly, they sell more appliances. 
  • What can you do about the rust problem? Buy smooth faced appliances if possible. Clean your appliances to keep them free of dust that can trap moisture on the surfaces that then rusts out the machine. Be careful to not scratch your appliances, especially the tops of washers and dryers by setting laundry baskets on them. Once you scratch them, the rusting process begins. Use a product like Rustoleum’s NeverWet to put a clear coat, rust preventative surface over your appliances paint before rust appears, especially if you live in a humid environment. Once rust appears, you can sand it down to bare metal with sand paper and repaint with an appliance epoxy, I recommend Krylon over Rustoleum because Krylon dries in 10 minutes, and Rustoleum takes at least 4-5 hours to dry. You can buy Krylon appliance epoxy at Sherwin Williams paint stores. 
Pile of scrap appliances.
Pile of scrap appliances.

5. We need to start creating long lasting appliances.

There is a funny thing going on right now in the appliance industry. Energy efficiency is being trumpeted by everyone with new stickers and labels and claims. But what about how long the appliance lasts before it ends up in a landfill? If an old refrigerator or freezer would last 40-50 years before being replaced, and the new ones are barely lasting 10-15 years, that means we are making 3–4 times the number of appliances we used to. Being very conservative, we are plowing through 2–3 times as many household appliances as we used to. How can that possibly be better for the environment?

6.How we are working to bring about change

There needs to be change in two primary areas; Quality of new appliances and the experience of buying used appliances. Elon Musk would have already started working on building a better appliance that runs off a battery bank and solar. You can only change the world one step at a time though, and you have to start somewhere. At ApplianceSwap, my co-founder Bobby Henderson and I are starting by creating a better way for people to purchase used appliances. We are doing that by addressing every aspect of the purchase.  We help people view local used appliances inventory, ask questions, schedule delivery, purchase appliances and review the transaction without setting foot in an appliance store.  This allows people to purchase used appliances in a familiar and relaxed environment while buying from sellers they can trust. Buyers also save hours of driving all over town and often appliances can be delivered the same day if ordered early enough.

Great used appliance sellers not only provide an excellent experience, but they are on the front lines of choosing which appliances are worth being refurbished and kept in the system, and which need to go to the scrap yard to be recycled.

We are excited about the future of the appliance industry. Things can and are changing. When new startups like ApplianceSwap begin by asking what is best for buyers, sellers and best for the environment, good things can and will happen.  

Have you seen the quality of your appliances change over the course of your lifetime?

48 COMMENTS

  1. I was just talking about this very same thing with some friends — how old appliances used to last forever and the new ones don’t.

    have learned my lesson with these types of items — I just keep ’em till I need to replace ’em. Including my furnace — every time the furnace guy comes to tune it up, he tells me it’s old (so what) and inefficient (my gas bill is only $38 per month and I live in Wisconsin!) and I should buy a new one. I refuse to until it breaks — I have been burned too many times with all these newfangled things!

    • Hi Jules, that’s very wise of you! If it’s older and only needs occasional repairs (usually just maintenance on wearable parts) then by all means just have it repaired! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ryan,
    What struck me as I read this article is the wealth of knowledge you have related to appliances. You are really the go to person about appliances. Thank you so much and much continued success.
    Alena/DallasTX

  3. Ryan… This is exactly what we have just been going through. Our ten year old LG washing machine started leaking. Ended up needing three new parts… all were apparently leaking at the same time! A service call and parts purchase later… $330! Almost enough to warrant buying a new machine instead. And yes, it’s rusting. But our ten year old Maytag refrigerator is another story. Works perfectly… had it service about five or six years ago for a couple minor problems and it’s been good since then. But now the bottom hinge of the refrigerator door is rusting. Actually, it’s the door that’s rusting, not the hinge…Mao eventually the door will fall off its hinges! Problem is… they don’t make that door anymore! And even if they did, what would it cost to buy it, ship it to Hawaii and have it installed? Or possibly I could find a used one somewhere. Still the same scenario tho, Even if I installed it myself, it would probably run more than the refrigerator is worth. So we have a top of the line refrigerator freezer that works fine, but will have to be replaced because the door will eventually fall off! Ridiculous! Great article, BTW. Mahalo. Mick

    • 10 years is pretty good for those front loaders, LG makes the best front loaders hands down, you made a wise purchase.

      Of all the places in the US, Hawaii is probably getting it the worst when it comes to the affects of the poor manufacturing techniques they are using. The rust problem out here on appliances compared to the mainland is probably 5x worse.

      We are going to start working on creating a buying guide resource that combines reviews from people and re-sellers all over the country and see if we can separate the good from the bad when it comes to these machines and manufacturers.

      Email me a picture of the door, I will try to keep an eye out for it at the appliance graveyards here 🙂

  4. What a great value appliances were to the consumer back even 30 years ago. A household could buy a basic white refrigerator for around $500 bucks and it would work for 20+ years. Nothing these days can match it. $2000 for a fridge – crazy!

    Who makes the best top loader washer? I’m thinking of going back to a top loader if / when my front loader wears out.

    Out Kitchenaid dishwashwer has been good. Amazingly, we have made it over ten years with front load Whirlpool washer and dryer, but we have to leave the washer door open to dry out. Our Fridedair dishwasher that came with the house was junk, as was the Frigedair side by side fridge we used to have. We bought a GE branded Bosch side by side stainless steel fridge from a “scratch and dent store” and have had problems with the icemaker. It overflows water that freezes in the bottom of the compartment.

    • Best top load washer right now is Speed Queen. You can view them on Amazon and check to see if you have any distributors locally.

      Looks like you have been making pretty good appliance purchase decisions lately! Well done, just takes a bit of research. Have a great day!

  5. Hi Ryan,

    My wife and I occasionally have to go to a laundromat for her comforter as it’s too big to fit in our washing machine at home.

    We notice that these washing machines and dryers from Dexter seem like really high quality – built to last and built to be used for possibly tens of thousands more cycles than a regular washer since they’re designed for commercial use.

    If money wasn’t an object (as I’m sure they’re way more expensive) would you recommend one of them for their reliability?

    • Commercial laundromat equipment is built to last much, much longer than consumer grade machines. If you can get your hands on a good working set, and have the room, do it! Better yet, if you are able to talk and find the local repairman for the laundromats, ask them what machine they would recommend and that is easiest to maintain.

  6. I purchased a Fisher/Paykel Top Loader Washer and Top Loader Dryer in 2008. I have paid for (supposedly)new barings for the gas dryer and now the washer needs a pump. I am seriously thinking about just letting the both of them go and get a combination that is easily accessible for repairmen. I have been without both units for 6 months…Question: what is your take on the Fisher/Paykel Washers and Dryers?

    • Fisher/Paykel can be good, and operate pretty quietly. However, access to parts is difficult and they are very expensive to repair. So I don’t recommend them. Top loaders new I would go Speed Queen or LG.

  7. Up front- I am a manufacturing/production engineer who has expereience in various industries but not the actual appliance industry. You have a “perfect storm” of value engineered appliances and owners who no longer have the mechanical skills to even attempt to fix the units. Just as you have found that washer/dryers can be fixed with a little knowledge, most owners don’t even have the knowledge of what mechanical tools are because general mechanical shop is no longer taught in most schools.

    So the appliances have been “value engineered” to remove un-seen over- engineering (~engergy inefficent~ motors, thicker metal,switches requiring assembly, etc ) and replace that with more bells/whistles or in this case LED lights, digital read outs, modular switches, etc. Then, for example, in an analog contact switch, there might have been wider tolerances that allowed the switch to keep functioning even with debris and moisture fouling where as the same functioning digital switch has tighter tolerances and no ability to continue to function with debris/moisture problems.

    The solinoid switches for water functions on refrigerators ( refill ice tray/ provide cold water) might have been rebuildable years ago but now are a complete replacement unit. But that is a “cheap and easy” replacement compared to say a newer digital control board which might be easy but not cheap resulting in the scrapping of the appliance.

  8. Ryan

    We’re about to move into a townhome [new construction] and have discovered the builder has put in a dryer vent that runs nearly 60 feet. Our local appliance repair guy as well as our home inspector both say our mid to late 90’s era Whirlpool dryer won’t push the air out that far and we’ll have problems. We’ve been in touch with the city building inspector who confirms the dryer vent is not compliance with building codes. There is talk of using a booster van. What is your take on this? If we purchase a new dryer, which is the best brand in your opinion? Thanks! You do consumers a great service with this blog.

    • Hi Gino, yeah at the very least you will need to get an inline fan, but it will need to be a special one that can handle the lint etc that will be coming down. They are a bit heavier duty than the ones that move exhaust from a bath fan.

      Either that, or move the washer/dryer to another location in the house/garage if it’s at all possible.

      The architects that designed homes to have the washer and dryer smack in the middle of the home where it’s impossible to vent them are foolish.

  9. If I wrote a blog post about newer appliances it would probably be much more scathing than this article. I think you’ve been generous in your assessment of how good newer appliances are. I see currently manufactured new appliances as 2-5 year machines, before they’re ready for the recycler sadly. Who knows, maybe there will be someone who comes along and champions a new consumer oriented line of appliances that will save the industry from it’s trend of utter worthlessness 😉

  10. Hi Ryan,

    What is your opinion on the new Samsung Front loader washer and dryers? I know they have been around overseas for a while but only about 10 years in the states.

  11. Same holds true for lawnmowers and snowblowers. The older tors will outlast the new ones any day. And dont even get me started on the new Briggs and Stratton motors with the plastic carburetors and cheap Chinese fuel line that disintegrates and plugs up the carbs.

    Look at the gearbox on a john Deere snowblower from 1986 and compare it to the ones now, its a joke.

    • It’s sad. Especially because most people have no idea how to work on the machines nor what to look for when desiring to buy quality ones.

  12. Hi Ryan, I can get a Whirlpool washer and dryer that has been a garage for 20 years. It was about 1 year old when it was stored. Do think it is still good and if so what should I check before bringing it home. Thanks for any info.

    • Hi Janet, it should be fine. On the washer, look under the washer after the load to see if there were any leaks from a possible seal that failed etc, but I don’t think you will find any. Dryer should be just fine.

  13. Excuse my bad english, Not only appliance is bad i been hvac & comm-refrigeration contractor for around 30yr, most common problem with today hvac & ref is leaking issue, especially in evaporator coil, it got worst sense intro of R410 new refrigerant,seen many new installed units leaks in 2 too 4yrs lucky maybe 10yr, It’s all piece crap now days.sometime i feel like don’t want a do install new a/c anymore because customer thing is my fault.
    a/c units
    30 year ago= last 15-30yr
    15 year ago= last 10-15yr
    today= 2-10 yr

  14. I have a front load Kenmore washer from 2006. It runs still with mild noise. Repair
    man says needs replacement of bearings will
    cost 600 or so.Should we buy new? Also do
    you discuss pros /cons of side
    load elsewhere?

    • I wouldn’t fix that machine. Replace with a top loading Whirlpool made machine or if you really want another front loader, buy a used one for 1/2 the price that the repairman is quoting. Hope that helps.

  15. Great article and I learned a lot and was reminded of even more. I curbed buying new stuff quite a few years ago because of this very thing.

    Image or ignorance over substance.

    It is such a joke on people that want to save the planets or at least LOOK like they ARE by buying NEW efficient stuff instead of refurbishing, repairing and buying great used products that in the long run will save them and the planet much more.

    Maybe the APPLIANCE INDUSTRY NEEDS TO LEARN WHAT THE USA CAR MANUFACTURERS LEARNED WHEN EVERYONE STARTED BUYING JAPANESE BECAUSE OF PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE IN THE INDUSTRY?

    One this its kind of ironic we would want to buy used (2 to 5 years old) equipment knowing that its crap after 3 to 5 years? I still get my moneys worth but maybe its time to start an retro-appliance business if there are still good part for repair.

      • I’m sure its coming. Kickstarter and indiegogo revolutionize these things.

        If your really into parts, you could probably source this project yourself with some clever friends.

        I’d buy a fridge that would last 30 years. At a premium any day.
        People are buying shitty fridges that tell you what your missing, but expire in 5 years anyway.

        • That would be very cool. It’s all about timing, right place, right amount of help etc and I think it could be pulled off. I’ve got another project or two in the pipeline but have definitely been thinking about it and totally agree with you!

  16. Please be aware that many of the facts in your article are inaccurate and you completely ignore the impact that government regulation and consumer behavior have on how these machines are made.

    Your lists of the brands Whirlpool and Electrolux own are completely inaccurate. Some of them are true, but Whirlpool does not own Sub-Zero, Viking, Crosley, etc. Electrolux does not own GE, Haier does. While it is true that only one US manufacturer remains (Whirlpool), there are many, many brands that sell in the US.

    The government provides the energy consumption guidelines, and they have made efficient machines costly to produce. These regulations are similar to what the auto industry experienced in that the mandate is to produce these machines, but consumers do not want to pay for the upgrade that comes with the new technology.

    The biggest problem with the industry, however, is that appliances don’t cost much more now than they did back in the 1950s. A washer then cost around $199, and that same starter model is in every Sunday ad in 2016 for $299. Top mount refrigerators, coil top ranges, etc.

    You should do a bit more research before pushing a narrative that manufacturers just make them to be of poor quality so you have to buy them more often to take advantage of an imaginary lack of competition.

    • Hi Melissa, in the article I stated that Whirlpool “owns or makes”, I should have made that more clear. Whirlpool does not own Kenmore obviously, but they made their washers and dryers for over 20 years. Whirlpool owns Amana and Amana was making Viking refrigerators in America, for example. Also, this post was written in 2012, and Electrolux did own GE until June of this year when they sold to Haier. Thanks for the heads up to update the post!

      The government provides the guidelines, but it’s the manufacturers responsiblility to put out a good product. If they put out a garbage product, they cannot blame the government, only themselves. If they need to raise their prices, so be it. They should be ashamed at the quality of their machines and if they have a problem with the regulations put on them, they certainly aren’t saying anything to the public about it!

      I agree costs haven’t gone up over the past 60 years for the prices of these machines. But you failed to mention the improvements in the manufacturing process that has made it much cheaper to produce machines than it used to be, so they have partially balanced themselves out. Also you didn’t mention the outsourcing of manufacturing to cheap labor around the world. If they need to make more money, then they need to raise their prices, not lower their quality. Or if they are going to lower the quality, they should be required to put a label telling consumers the dishwasher they are about to buy will be broken in less than 3 years and that it’s a disposable dishwasher.

      Also, and I’m not questioning your knowledge of appliances, but some of the corners they have cut fall into only saving a few dollars per machine, yet shave off several years off the life of the machine. Refrigerator seals are a perfect example. Do you blame consumers for the manufacturer saving a few dollars on the junk seals that fail several years before other components?

      Imaginary lack of competition? Go to HomeDepot’s website and look up sub $300 dishwashers. Who owns all those brands? Lots of brands, but only a couple of manufacters. There used to be competition before the mass consolidation of appliances makers.

      Lastly, I don’t apologize for calling out the appliance manufacturers. They alone are responsible for their products. What you are saying would be like Apple computer making excuses for a crappy product. What do they do when they make a crappy product? They apologize! http://fortune.com/2016/02/18/apple-apologizes-releases-update-to-fix-broken-iphones/

  17. Don’t the regulators get a big share of the blame for requiring energy efficiency that drives up prices and makes the machines less reliable?

    If everybody is building junk, why doesn’t one of the manufacturers decide to build high quality machines, and blow the competition away?

    • Look at Speed Queen. They make the best top loading machines on the market right now and you can’t find them anywhere. That’s what making a high quality machine gets you! haha I agree the regulations are bad, but it’s not just the compressors related to freon type that are failing. All sorts of parts are failing that used to not fail. Everything has been reengineered more poorly to not last as long. You can go down the list of every component in a refrigerator and see obvious ways that quality has been purposely reduced.

  18. I have no doubt that the reason why more players don’t enter the appliance industry is the phone book of federal regulations you must comply with in order to mass produce a home appliance.

    Though there’s no doubt the older ones are better. I just picked up a whirlpool fridge from 1995, it’s near mint in appearance, and runs perfectly.

    And I just got a roper dryer that’s maybe 5 years old, it has a bad timer, and I’ve noticed other newer Whirlpools with weird problems I can’t track down, that I chalk up to a control panel problem, and end up parting out the machine, so you’re not wrong on the reliability problem, I’m just not seeing any blame pointed at the regulators, and they deserve some. It must be all that time you’re spending in socialist Hawaii.:)

    • Regulators to get a lot of the blame, but who do you think gets the regulators in their positions in the first place? There are only a few major appliance manufacturers that must have significant lobbying powers. I dont think the big manufacturers make very much money when their appliances last a really long time. They want them to die at a certain age so they can sell more appliances. If they all do the same thing, then the brands will seem indistinguishable. Right now, if you ask 100 people, everyone will have different opinions as to which appliance company makes the best machines. That’s exactly what they want. That way they can get away what they are doing with little reprecussions.

  19. My 5-year old Sears Kenmore (built by Whirlpool) toploader just died because the transmission broke through the plastic basket that supports it. I luve alone and probably only wash about 5 or 6 loads a month. It’s ridiculous that a nachine would only last for approx 300 loads of washing. I bought a used analog Whirlpool for $160 and it’s working fine. As someone that worked in the environmental field for 40 years I am appalled that we have regressed so far. People used to have appliances repaired – even down to small appliances like toasters. We have become a consumption driven society as evidenced by having to have the newest iPhone on the market. With today’s technology we should be able to build appliances that last 50 years – not 5.

  20. Your blog is spot on and very helpful. I came upon it while Googling “failed drum bearings” — the hidden problem with a sparkling LG front loader I stupidly bought on Craigslist (the only bad experience I’ve had with CL). LG has an carve-out in its warranty for that known problem, which totals the machine. Prior to that I had a 1991 Whirlpool that finally gave up the ghost. Back to old-fashioned for me. My question is about the 2011-2012 Whirlpool washers (the ones with a silvery panel, but no LED). Some reviews I scraped up weren’t positive. Should I go with the prior model, the Whirlpool Estate? Any other tips for IDing the age of a washer and dryer?

    • The silver control panel Whirlpools are great machines. If you have a link to a pair that you are looking at in particular, send it to me and I will let you know what I think. Another way to id the good machines is to get their model number and make sure it has a big metal clutch, plastic coupler, agitator dogs etc. Those are parts from the older direct drive washers that I recommend. Hope that helps!

  21. Great article. I’ve been repairing appliances a few years myself. I still swear by the direct drive washers. When I recommend new though I use speed queen, since they now make top load washers for in home use and I’ve only read great reviews about them

  22. I’m happy to have a Kelvinator with the original 25 anniversary model paper label still on the inside of the door. One of the electrical parts is stenciled with a date of 1943 on it. I use it everyday and wouldn’t trade it for anything new.

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