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Anyone had success repairing washing machines?

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9:19 am
October 26, 2010



posts 456

My front-loading washing machine just died mid-cycle! The power is on, but nothing happens. This is after I spent over $300 about three months ago having a small electronic component replaced.

Here I was trying to do the right thing and repair rather than replace the machine and I'm back at square one. I suspect that this time the motor has died.

Has anyone out there had much success with the repair of front-loading washing machines? Mine is 11 years old, which doesn't seem very long. Is this all we can expect from washing machines these days – planned obsolescence? What should the normal life cycle of a washing machine be? Frown

11:29 pm
October 26, 2010



posts 456

From speaking to a couple of shops in Fyshwick that specialise in repairing whitegoods and selling reconditioned washing machines (I found them listed on the TAMS website under Recycling and Waste), it sounds like there is little point trying to fix a washing machine that has already been fixed once without success).

Second hand washing machines sell at those shops from $290. I think a problem for anyone going down that track is that warranties are only for 3-6 months. Also, while one may feel virtuous buying a second hand machine instead of a new one so as to "reuse" whitegoods, it could well be that the brand-new ones are much more energy efficient than the old.

Anyone out there have a view about the pros and cons of the two options?

10:06 pm
October 30, 2010



posts 456

Having done a bit of research since my last post, it appears that these days washing machines last 10-15 years, so my machine's life of 11 years is right in that range.

Most of the environmental impact of a washing machine is during its period of use rather than in its manufacture and disposal (check out the graph of a washing machine lifecycle at http://www.ami.ac.uk/courses/t…../0109_lct/)

So it looks like the best strategy for someone whose washing machine has broken down and is over ten years old may be to buy a new, more energy and water efficient machine (see also an article in G Magazine online "What to do with old appliances and white goods" by Rebecca Blackburn on 3 Sept 2009).

Okay, well how do you pick the most water and energy efficient washing machines available now? For water efficiency ratings, check out http://www.waterrating.gov.au/ and for energy efficiency ratings, check out http://www.energyrating.gov.au/.

The only problem is that some of the brands receiving high energy efficiency ratings don't necessarily receive positive customer reviews. See http://www.productreview.com.au/ and also the Choice Survey of its members' experience with the reliability of their washing machines.

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7:17 pm
November 3, 2010



posts 60

Funny you should mention this – it's a hard call I think replacing white goods or cars and, personally, I don't think that necessarily succumbing to the pressure to replace 'old' with 'new' is always the best option, but I can see how much our system of consumption reinforces it.

Canberra must be one of the most unfortunate parts of what is already a country where we have, first, a declining base of tradespeople able to mechanically fix broken items and, second, a limited base for the manufactures that can provide parts at all. I'm stuck in a similar situation with my watches – I have about 5 of them, I don't want to buy a new watch, but either getting the battery replaced under pressure for my dive watch or for the perpetual motion watch to be serviced would cost an absolute bomb. The so-called 'jeweller' even said it wasn't worth my while to service one watch and that it would be as cheap to buy a completely new one. It's really quite pathetic and depressing.

The people I know who replace parts in machines like this are usually people who 'stockpile' the parts. They're generally older men who keep the old bits in the expectation they'll have to do a repair some day. You could try either http://www.allclassifieds.com.au 'The Trading Post' or the services directory at the back of 'The Chronicle' to unearth these sort of blokes.

The problem is that you could buy a new machine, at a sale, for less than 50% more than the cost of repairing your existing one, so there is the incentive we all face to get something new in the hope it will last another 15 years without trouble. I've had my top loader repaired once, I constantly cross my fingers it will last the distance.

However, I had the amusing vision recently when visiting a Canberra revolve of a Buddhist monk (I kid you not) and an elderly Vietnamese/Lao or Cambodian man stuffing a fridge into their van. Being immigrants, they were obviously looking for a bargain. Sure, the fridge isn't the latest energy efficient one, but they were giving it a second life. Good environmental karma I thought. You could always buy second hand…again?

9:29 pm
November 4, 2010

Canberras Sustainable House

New Member

posts 1

Great Post Marea 🙂

This is a really important area as we move to a low carbon world.There is definitely merit in repairing products rather than purchasing new. We did it with a 15 yr old microwave recently!!!! It cost us more than a cheap new unit, but it is going fine – it's all about Walk'in the Talk!!!

There ARE some ultra low energy and water consuming appliances available on the Australian market. Many of them come from Europe, often Denmark and Germany. The energy savings can be in the vicinity of 75++%. The energy savings of these high efficiency appliances will rapidly outstrip the embodied energy involved in creating the said new appliance, even if it has had a oneway, once in a lifetime journey from Denmark!!!

At Canberra's Sustainable House I conducted an energy audit and we replaced three aplliances. The refrigeration replacements produced the most spectacular results and we are close to our target of 4KWh/day total household energy consumption.

For us water consumption is critical because we are NOT connected to the ACT Water Network, despite the fact we are located in a suburb in the heart of the Nation's Capital. Every litre of water we use has an associated energy cost because we use pumps to deliver water to the outlets. I know what the energy cost associated with every litre of water we pump and it makes me mindful of water use. As Canberra's population has increased and our catchment yield reduced ACTEW is now pumping more water than previous. The water that is sucked from the Murrumbidgee at the Cotter Bridge comes with an energy cost also. So this is an issue Canberra's need to get up to speed with. Perhaps ACTEW could post some energy consumption figures here related to pumping water from our rivers for potable drinking water purposes?

At Canberra's Sustainable House, there is also the obvious issue of managing a limited water resource when you have a tank with a finite capacity and a fickle climate that appears to be drying in the long term. We chose a low consuming front loading washing machine. My analysis determined our new laundry appliance to have a water consumption figure of 50% – 70% lower than previous front and top loading machines we had used.

The front loader we now have installed is a dream to use and like the ultra low consumption refrigeration appliances the performance is actually superior to the previous run of the mill appliance that one might purchase from one of the big white goods stores.

More to come in the next post.

Just how much energy does a Front Loader use? Should you connect to the hot or cold tap? And can you turn an old washing machine into an Apple Cider machine?Cool

7:41 am
November 11, 2010



posts 456

Dear Quetzal and Canberra's Sustainable House, thanks for your very useful posts. It was a hard call about whether to go for a second hand washing machine or a new, very energy and water efficient machine.There were good arguments supporting both options.

In the end, and as the dirty washing continued to pile up, I opted for one of the most energy and water efficient washing machines available with a good warranty period.

My unsuccessful experience trying to fix the old one, and the evidence about the higher environmental impacts of washing machines being during their period of use rather than in their manufacture and disposal, were the deciding factors.

Canberra's Sustainable House – I'm intrigued about your reference to turning an old washing machine into an Apple Cider machine. When can we hear more???

8:02 pm
November 11, 2010



posts 30

Maynor and Cochran in Fyshwich supply repair parts at very reasonable prices. I recently replaced a washing machine drive belt on an old Hoover we got second-hand 20 years ago. It was amazing the old belt had worked as long as it had with chunks missing. The solenoids that open and shut to let the water in die eventually and again the replacement part was quite cheap and easy to swap-that might have been 10 years ago. Once the machine started to leak. It turned out an internal hose had rubbed a hole through. Again a new hose was quick, easy and cheap to swap over. 

11:52 pm
November 11, 2010



posts 60

I'm going to thank Peter C for that bit of advice about someone who can supply parts in case of need. 

12:12 pm
December 30, 2010


New Member

posts 1

Hi Marea and Nick, I am now looking to replace a very bad top loader and I was wandering if you could please let me know which machines you ended up purchasing. I am hoping this will save me a lot of time doing your research over. Smile Cheers

11:29 pm
December 30, 2010



posts 456

Post edited 12:18 am – January 2, 2011 by marea

Hi Tamara, I ended up purchasing the same washing machine as in the Energy Australia and Sydney Water Smart Home in Sydney , namely, the Miele W1611 Novotronic.

It has an energy and water efficiency rating of 4.5.

I'm really happy with the washing machine so far, but it's early days.

I would still suggest you check the links to the reviews I referred to in posts earlier in this thread before making your decision.Smile

2:33 pm
July 25, 2012


New Member

posts 2

marea said:


Having done a bit of research since my last post, it appears that these days washing machines last 10-15 years, so my machine's life of 11 years is right in that range.


Sadly, planned obsolescence seems to be the name of the game for all appliances we buy these days. But having said that, you can't complain too much about a decade of service.

12:08 am
August 8, 2012



If buying a new machine, be aware of what cycles actually let you do. Re front loaders: 

Many machines won't allow a cold wash on any cycle…. 30 degrees is the coolest. 

All the machines that I could get info on a few years ago diluted any hot water input and reheated the water electrically within the machine…. not so good if you have solar or instant gas hot water!

None of the machines would let you do a short gentle hot wash (useful for clinic sheets, or bed-wetting or ill or sweaty people, or whatever).

Most machines would not allow you to start part way through the cycle, for just spinning hand washed things, for instance.  Also, I find that if I use washballs (the rocks in a plastic ball) instead of detergent, then starting at the third rinse of 5, bypassing the wash entirely, is plenty to get things as clean as the wash plus 5 rinses with detergent. It takes much less time and half the water, and all water can go directly onto the garden.

I looked for ages for a machine that would do what I wanted, and eventually got a second hand one the same as the one that died. Probably less energy efficient for equivalent cycles, but more energy efficient for me because it allows more control, and therefore for me less time and water and clothes/sheets/towels wearing out.  Very happy!

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