Man has problem with small laundry loads

November 9, 2012 9:19:41 PM PST
Most appliances now on the market are designed with energy efficiency in mind, but front-loading washers may have a flaw. And one Bay Area man points out it can stop everything on laundry day.

You know what can happen if you overload a washing machine. It can be disastrous. Well it turns out you might have a problem if you under load one of these new washers.

Richard Hanlin showed us what happens when he puts a small pile of socks into his front-load washing machine.

"It will shut down if this load is too small a load," said Hanlin.

Hanlin noticed his new Kenmore washer sometimes stops in the middle of a cycle, leaving a lot of water in the drum, and he has to re-set the machine.

"And I accepted this, and I thought well I got to put up with this, only to find out in the literature in very small print, that this is endemic to this machine," said Richard Hanlin of San Francisco.

Here's what he found in the service guide. Hanlin said, "In the very smallest print it says load too small."

It says an unbalanced error message could mean the load is too small. Too small? Does that mean he can only do laundry if he has a lot of it? Hanlin didn't like that idea.

"And so I called Sears and I said, 'Hey, listen, I wish you had said something because I might not have bought this machine," said Hanlin.

He says sometimes it handles small loads just fine, other times it stops. He just wishes he'd known the potential limitations.

"So I called 7 On Your Side," said Hanlin.

We contacted Sears which makes Kenmore appliances. The company explained what happens with a front load washer. It said, "Small loads tend to clump to one side, and may cause the drum to bang against the cabinet in the spin cycle. The machine is designed to correct the imbalance by reversing the spin. If that doesn't work, the machine stops and you get the error message."

The solution? Kenmore says add more clothes.

Hanlin shows us what happens with that small load of socks. It shakes noisily during the spin cycle, then slows down and this time, the machine does complete the load. Still, Sears wanted Hanlin to be happy with his washer.

"He says hey come down and pick out a new machine," said Hanlin.

Sears let him swap his machine for this new front load Kenmore washer with a special setting just for small loads.

"I'm thrilled, I'm thrilled. Hey, I like the new machine," said Hanlin.

So far Hanlin says the new machine has done small loads without a problem. It's not just Kenmore, but other front load washers also can be more sensitive to unbalanced loads, so you should wash items of similar weight as well as color in the same load.

We'd like to thank Sears for letting Hanlin swap out his washer.


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