To-Do List: Appliances

Appliances constitute a major investment, which may prove problematic given my budget crunch. The units listed here are all third- or even fourth-round picks because the first few picks were either discontinued or too costly. I could go with even cheaper ones, but that would require making structural changes to the kitchen, so these will have to do:

  • GE Model PHP9030DJBB cooktop
  • GE Model JK3800SHSS combination wall oven
  • GE Model GNE27ESMSS refrigerator
  • GE Model GDT605PSMSS dishwasher
  • GE Model FCM7SKWW chest freezer

Why GE? It started with the wall oven: I'd planned on a combination standard convection and microwave, and needed 27" width (a much "rarer" size), which is rather expensive, and the GE model was the cheapest. So I stuck with the brand for visual continuity. As it happens, most of the GE units are among the more economical, so it worked to my advantage. But it's still a lot of money I don't have right now.

The Humble Washing Machine: A Long, Soggy Saga

It all started with a gift: I was offered a washer and dryer (below) as a "housewarming" gift from a close friend. Unfortunately, the Whirlpool washer I received was a lemon—it failed to function properly right out of the box. It filled with water, immediately drained it (along with the detergent), and then stopped, refusing to do anything else. Several re-starts, unplugging and plugging, water filter cleanings and who knows what all else failed to change its behavior. Which left me with a large bag full of sopping wet t-shirts and underwear that I had to haul to the local laundromat to finish washing and drying. To say that I was seriously miffed would be a significant understatement.

Online accounts echoed the same sad stories as mine, and evidently as many as 15% of their machines are defective—which is galling, because it means Whirlpool doesn't give a rat's behind about quality control. And Whirlpool "proudly" produces these pieces of garbage in the USA, which regrettably makes our country look woefully incompetent. Even if the unit did manage to function properly, it would have been a royal pain to use, as just filling the tub took more than ten minutes. Consequently, if you're considering a Whirlpool Model WTW4816FW—or any other model that looks suspiciously similar, regardless of manufacturer—do not buy it.

So I immediately went on a crusade to find a decent washing machine; unfortunately, the times they are a-changing. While I was growing up, my family had a Kenmore washer that was still going strong after 18 years—just try and find a modern washer that will last half as long! The problem is that everyone has gone to electronic controls because they're cheaper; unfortunately, they're not as reliable as "old-fashioned" mechanical controls. Worse, manufacturers have caught on: reliable machines are not good for business.

The Internet offers a dismal look at the sorry state of affairs: no manufacturer entirely escapes bad news. Even the widely-regarded Consumer Reports has a significant problem: the customer reviews on their website conflict—often significantly—with their own reports. Most likely this is because CR briefly tests new machines, but doesn't use them regularly over a period of years. What to do?

The best I could hope for was just look for a convergence of opinion. The advantages I had were that 1) I knew how to use Internet tools and research this stuff; and 2) my needs are fairly minimal—it's just me and my cats, so I won't be placing the same demands on an appliance as a typical family of 4.3 people. Thus, a slightly less-robust machine might be adequate, but obviously I wasn't about to settle for a dud.

Here are the facts: Front-loaders use far less water—up to 20 gallons or more per load less (even for me with a well, water isn't free, since I have to pay to pump it out of the ground, and then pay to pump the waste water into the disposal field). Also, based on reviews, top-loaders tend to fare more poorly in terms of performance and reliability. So, I'd pretty much resigned myself to a front-loader—which meant rebuilding the platform I'd just removed for the top-loader I was given.

Ultimately the models I settled on were:

  • LG Model WM3500CW washer
  • LG Model DLE3500W dryer

Unfortunately, these cost twice as much as what I'd returned; that meant I had to share the financial burden with my friend—which was not the original plan! But, if I wanted higher-quality, more reliable appliances, that's what I had to do. So, I bit the bullet. The washer arrived on 22 June 2019; the dryer came 5 July. I'd like to have had something other than white, but it definitely wasn't worth over $100 more each just for a color. Besides, they're tucked away in a closet, not sitting in the middle of the living room; who cares if they're boring white?

After using the new-new washer and dryer a number of times, I can honestly say I'm quite pleased with the results. The washer is surprisingly quiet, it cleans well, and saves water and energy in the process. The dryer is, well, a dryer—it works as well as one might hope (I don't think they've changed much in the last 50 years). In the end, I'm actually glad the Whirlpool washer failed, as I can't imagine it performing anywhere near as well as the LG unit. All's well.

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