Saturday, August 16, 2014

Whirlpool 5810 Top Load Washer tips and thoughts

Timer in our 14 year old  Whirlpool washer gave up to ghost. The washer would perform all cycles when advanced manually but would not advance by itself. In retrospect I should have paid $140 for a new timer but what done is done.

We bought our previous washer at Costco and had a very good experience. So for the new one we went to Costco as well. I read fair amount of reviews on Costco site and on Whirlpool site and we decided to go with 5810 high efficiency top load suite. On the Whirlpool site this washer (5800) has a lot of positive reviews but I think they are bogus. When I tried to post negative review after initial experience with this washer Whirlpool never allowed it to appear. I posted one on Amazon instead.

This washer works completely differently from a normal agitator washer and takes a lot of getting used to. Initially we did not like at all how this washer cleans clothes and even considered very seriously to return the suit. After reading some more information online and looking at Consumer reports issue that rated this washer #20 from over 100 different models, we decided to give it a try and to keep the washer and dryer.

Appearance

The suite looks nice and we did not have any problems with appearance and controls. There are many different modes and buttons and you need to read a manual to understand all of the controls.
One thing I wanted to note are glass lids on both washer and dryer. If you are not careful with your things, there is a good chance these lids will be broken. This is confirmed by a few reviews I found online. The lids are expensive to replace - over a $100.

Detergent

This washer requires HE detergent, which in of itself is not a big deal. We have been using HE detergent for years so we did not have to switch. However the washer is very sensitive to the amount of detergent. In the normal washer there are few preset levels of water and one can easy workout how much detergent to use for each level to get a working concentration. This washer detects amount of laundry and adds the amount of water it thinks is right. This method makes it really hard to guess how much detergent to use. You basically need to guess by the amount of dry laundry. I would start with 1/4 of your regular use and slowly increase the amount until you get the right concentration. It is better to use too little detergent than too much. If too much detergent is used the washer creates a lot of  foam and can not complete the cycle. It forces you to manually engage the rinse cycle to rinse out all of the detergent. You may have to repeat manual rinse cycle few times to remove all of the excess detergent. This in my opinion completely negates all of the water and energy efficiency.

Amount of water

This washer, being a HE washer, uses very little water. For washing part of the cycle, aside from detergent issue, it is not a big problem. For rinse cycle it is a big problem, especially if you use too much detergent. The amount of water used during the rinse cycle cannot possibly  be enough to wash out detergent, especially if too much is used. Even adding an extra rinse cycle does not help with left over detergent. You would need to run several rinse cycles manually to get rid of excess detergent. That is why it is very important to use the right amount. There is also so called "spray rinse" which effectively translates in to squirting some water in to the middle of the spinning drum while laundry is stuck to the sides. As you can imagine this rinse does not rinse anything at all. However if you turn on "Fabric Softener", the spray rinse is replaced by the "normal" rinse in all modes. And by normal I mean putting barely enough water to make your laundry wet.
The only mode that uses a lot of water is "Bulky Items". This mode, however washer seems to add almost full tub of water even if you put one sock.
There is a "Deep Water Wash" mode which adds a little more water but it is still very little.

Spin cycle

There are two spin speeds on this washer and also the setting without spin at all. You can use this setting to wash items that would bring washer out of balance - snickers, bags or shower curtains.
The high speed spin leaves laundry very dry and wrinkled. If you air dry your laundry, high speed spin will not work for you. Your laundry will come out very wrinkled and will need ironing. If you use dryer, high speed will make your laundry dry in less than 30 minutes, which saves time and energy. Saved time is a wash however, no pun intended, as the time is consumed during the wash cycle instead of the drying cycle.
The low speed leaves laundry dryer than our old washer but it does not wrinkle laundry nearly as much as the high speed does. It is better to use low speed for non-iron garments.

Fabric Softener

The Fabric Softener button changes "spray rinse" to a normal rinse for all cycles. I am not sure if it adds more water for rinsing but "Eco Monitor" led shows decreased efficiency when fabric softener light is on. It is now permanently set for all our cycles  even though we never use fabric softener. The rinse is better when the fabric softener mode is on.

Soak cycle

The manual is completely wrong on using the Soak cycle. It recommends adding detergent, running the Soak cycle, then adding more detergent and running a wash cycle. This sequence immediately creates too much detergent situation. My recommendation would be to add more than usual detergent during the soak cycle and do not add any detergent for the wash cycle or add very little. The soak cycle just drains water and does not spin the laundry, leaving most of the detergent in the laundry and creating a lot of suds when more detergent is added.

Recommended cycle

With our old washer we used mostly normal cycle and gentle cycle for pretty much every load. The 5810's normal cycle is not very usable, unless you have very lightly soiled laundry and use very little detergent. Our new "normal cycle" is "Deep Water Wash" which adds a bit more water and rinses much better.
For bedding we use "Bulky Items", which works in an interesting way. It starts the wash cycle before there is enough water and keeps adding water for the duration of the wash. It actually works OK for bedding and large items. The only problem is items that tend to float. Because there is no agitator, there is nothing to pull item under water so some items need to be turned over half way through the wash. Pillows would be one example.

Problems

This washer sometimes leaves parts of the item completely dry! How is this possible you may ask? The absence of agitator and the extremely low water use is the cause of this issue. Because there is no agitator, the items can not rotate properly through water and because water is so low some of the items can't even get completely wet. If you think that I am lying, here is the picture:
This is a Kirkland Signature dress shirt which is treated to repel water. The marked part of the collar is dry. The picture was taken after water completely drained at the end of the Deep Water Wash cycle. This part of the collar stayed mostly above the water and never got submerged.Even Deep Water Wash did not help! You can click on the picture for better look.
There are 2 other problems related to this:
- Washer does not wash stains well so you must pre-treat stain and almost completely remove all stains before washing.
- Washer does not rinse our detergent well as described earlier in this post.

Dryer

The dryer that comes with 5810 washer is actually pretty good. It works well and fast, probably because of the washer. It has censor and it can stop at different  levels of dryness. It also has manual cycles which allow you to use it as a regular dryer. Filter located in the front of the dryer and is easy to clean. We like that dryer very much.

Conclusion

Initially we hated this washer with passion. After a while we got used to all the quirks and we do not hate it as much. We still don't like it but we do not hate it anymore. Only time will tell how reliable these washer and dryer would be. My previous machine lasted 14 years with 2 repairs - lid switch broke and was fixed with some epoxy, and agitator dogs wore out and were replaced for $4+shipping. If this suite does as well I would be very surprised.
If you are on the market for washer and dryer, I would not recommend this model or any top load high efficiency models. There is something wrong with washing your laundry in a gallon of water, no matter what the manufacturers or the government wants you to beleive.
Speed Queen seems to be the choice for top load washers, although it looks like something out of the 50s and weights a ton. I have no experience with these, but reviews for the Speed Queen washer are all positive. We seriously considered it but at the end decided to give Whirlpool a try.
There are tons of bad reviews on the Consumer Affairs site for Whirlpool Cabrio models. Just use your favorite search engine to find them.