questionsdo you have any washer and dryer buying advice?

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Look for a local appliance chain in your area. More often than not they'll match prices from the big guys and sometimes beat them. And if financing is an issue they can probably match any kind of low-interest deal from the big stores too.

Plus you're more likely to get to talk to someone who actually knows something about appliances rather than a guy who just shuffled over from the paint aisle to help you. Also with smaller shops you may be able to talk them down on the price of the warranties as well.

The smaller places are hurting these days and they're going to work harder for your business. They're more interested in building relationships with their customers than the big stores to ensure you remain a good customer. Should you need a fridge or oven someday they'll want to make sure they're the first ones you think of when the need arises.

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Try and find one that love you for you and who gets along with your family. If she can cook as well then that is even better! :P

I kid, I kid.

My advice is worry about getting a nice washer and don't worry so much about the dryer. I prefer washers without the pole thing in the middle so that I can fit more clothes in and I feel like my clothes get just as clean. Even if you can afford a front loader I don't know that I would drop the dough on them due to leaking and stinking issues they can have.

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When you have the washer and dryer in your house and are using it, you will forget all about how much you paid and what incentive you followed. I think in some areas you get an energy rebate for Energy Star rated appliances, so there's that, but it isn't from the manufacturer. You probably may like to use it as a power consumption guideline. What you want is to make sure that the machines have the power to do the job you need them to do. In power consumption it is about amperes and wattage. Amperes are how much the unit pulls from the grid. Wattage is how fast it pulls it. You need wattage for the motor to handle the loads you put in it, and the temperatures you want to run it.

Formats: gas or electricity are the questions about the dryer. These days there are steam washers. They seem very impressive to me, if they do what they claim.

With washers and dryers it isn't as much about the purchase as it is the maintenance. You absolutely need to know where it is going to get service.

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measure your doorways. seems like such a simple thought, but the doorway in the middle of my house that things have to go thru to get from one end of the house to the other is narrower than the other doorways. (i learned this the hard way.)

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I have been happy with my LG Front Loader washers and dryers. I do 8 to 10 loads of laundry a day. If you go with front load, make sure you get pedestals. They help your back and are a plus when you have to drain the washer's filter. Also, front load washers should be on a concrete floor. They can transfer a tremendous amount of vibration through a wood floor when they spin up to full speed.

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My only advice when buying a washer and dryer is: Keep it Simple! Simple is cheap, and cheap is easy to fix when it breaks. Don't go for a fancy one with a digital board and 80 different cycles, you probably won't need it! When the digital board goes it will cost just as much to replace it down the road as it is to buy a whole new washer. I'd also steer clear of front load washers, until they get that technology nailed down (leaks, wearing out twice as fest, etc) I won't go near them. We bought a set of GE Washer and Dryer on sale not too long ago for $350/ea. They work extremely well and we are very happy with them! Not to mention the price couldn't be beaten.

As far as sales go just keep up in your local home improvement and appliance store ads and be the judge of the best deal for you. Installing a washer and dryer is easy when all of the hookups are already in place (I can assume they are).

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While not one of the brands you're interested in, if you come and get it, you may have my semi-new washer because I despise it so. We purchased an energy star, water-efficient, agitator-free model (Whirlpool LowH2 something or other). We wanted something that did NOT have the "bubble button" controls. Those have always cracked in the past on other appliances we've owned & this decision limited our choices.
We follow all the directions, use the proper liquid detergents in the correct amounts called for by a low water appliance and continue to be disappointed with the results. I don't think the clothes come out as clean as they did with a standard machine and it does a horrible job removing any pet or people hair, or bits of debris one might pick up by doing yard work.
A cycle takes forever, clothing comes out of the machine heavily wrinkled, sometimes with what looks like soap residue even if no soap was used. I think we'd be better off beating our clothes against a rock in a stream.

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@elforman: I lol'd at the (accurate) description of someone shuffling over from the paint aisle to help. My hesitation about looking for an in-town place is that some of the places I'm currently looking at online might have a week+ lead time before delivery can take place, and I'd like to get everything set up the weekend we move in. (Starting school ten days later and I'd like to have this settled WELL before that.)

@justincredibleg: HA!! :) I don’t want an agitator either. I originally had no intention of looking at front-loaders, but after reading through CR I actually narrowed down my choices to two of ‘em. Can you go into more detail about the leaking/stinking problems? On a related note… @nortonsark: can you tell me more about draining the filter? I’m not sure what that means. And unfortunately, I don’t actually know what the floors are where the laundry hookups are—we don’t live in the area and can’t check it out! Hmm, I may contact the property managers…

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@srfoolishbuyer: Good info. I suppose with the two I was looking at I’m not particularly worried about maintenance since LG and Samsung seem to have decent reputations… but maybe I should be more concerned? I do know we’ll be needing an electric dryer (glad to hear it too… it never occurred to me that gas ones would be pricier).

@moosezilla: WOW, that never would have occurred to me. Once again, I’m regretting the fact that we’re not in the area to check. Maybe I really should hold off on buying till we’re settled there…

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@eraten: See, I wanted to keep it simple! But when I started reviewing all the recommended ones, it seems like everything these days except the most bare-bones models has these digital displays. I’m torn because I have a lot of delicate shirts and our most recent apartment washer just tears them up; I’d like to get a nice, simple set, but I also want to know I’m getting something gentle with SOME options. The agitators have been agitatin’ me!

@lavikinga: BOO! That’s terrible, I’m so sorry! This is my greatest fear for this process, and actually reminds me of a question I meant to ask… what kind of return policies stores have on washers and dryers? I mean what happens if you really just buy a clunker?!

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For dryer look for one that uses rubber rollers, not just a plastic slide(to hold up the front of the rotating drum).
I had to replace those "slides" several times(at an outrageous $30 for the part and a couple hours worth of hard work to replace it).
After the 3rd time(they would last ~3-4 years) I gave up and looked for a brand that used the better style rubber rollers. My model was a Frigidaire(similar to GE) and the models that use the rollers are Whirlpool/Maytag and equivalents. I "think" LGs use the rollers but I'm not positive. The sales sales guy at HD was quite nice and looked up the models schematic on the internet but I just can't remember now, I ended up with a Whirlpool which I really like. I'd suggest NOT a Frigidaire, even the Gallery series that I got used the cheap slides.
Personally I'd prefer a model with mechanical knobs but anything decent(including my new model) use the electronic keypads that while nice are probably costly to replace, if or rather when they go.

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@jjeff: They ARE costly to replace & the main reason we wanted to avoid them. Our first washer lasted almost 28 years, three kids (a set of twins) with one of them LOVING to overstuff the machine with all his laundry. If I can find an old fashioned fill 'er up with water, three or four knob control, but agitator-free machine, I'm buying it.

From what we've been told about "lemons," there has to be three separate repairs with different repair ticket numbers issued for the same problem for it to be called a "lemon" and returned. This does not include three trips to your home for repairs on a repair ticket. In other words, if repairman has to make 3 different trips because parts are on order/not correct part/still not working, it's all tied in to the original repair order. The ticket has to be closed and a new one issued before it's considered a separate trouble call. One could conceivably have someone out to work on the machine over 10 times & it not be considered a lemon.

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Personal ancedote to add to @elforman's point: When my grandmother's ancient refrigerator died, not only was the local appliance store considerably less expensive than any of the national chains that we visited, but the customer service was so much better - both "service" in the sense of delivery, scheduling, etc., but also how they treated my 85 year old grandmother. They knew their stuff: they were career salesmen for this store and had 20 years of knowledge about refrigerators instead of being college kids who had memorized some specs for their summer job.

The local store was 25% cheaper, but my motivation to recommend them to others came from how they treated my grandmother. So definitely give smaller, local stores a chance: in addition to supporting local businesses, you might get a better deal and you'll almost certainly get better service!

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@heyjoie: I definitely recommend waiting until you're in the area and preferably in your new place to make any major purchases. I went through a similar situation and while I don't have major regrets, it would have been better to wait until I was there and had a realistic sense of the space, how I interacting with it, how my fit stuff, etc. Obviously a washer/dryer is different than other furniture, but my general point is that you learn things by being in a space that you can't know until you're there: maybe that will be what @moosezilla said about the width of the hallways leading to where the washer will live; maybe it will be a realization that there's an odd corner so you need a smaller washer, etc. Also, keep an eye out for discounts on appliances that have a small ding or scratch; the discounts can be significant, but the defects are often small - and may even be hidden, depending on your layout!

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Speaking generally, you first need to decide if you want a front loading or a top loading washer. The front loads are more expensive, but are generally thought to be more energy and water efficient. There are some issues (see above) about getting clothes clean (I haven't had a problem). However, if you leave the door shut and don't let them dry out they CAN grow mold. Some new ones have cycles to clean the washer.

If you are not going to be staying in the house for a while another thing to consider is that front loaders are heavier and much harder to move.

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If you have a Sears Outlet in your area, definitely check it out. The deals aren't as good as they used to be but you can still find a good one if you look hard. A minor dent in a washer or dryer can result in a significant discount (we call it the "Scratch and Dent store") but not affect performance in any way - and who looks at your washer?! Selection can be limited, but now you can look online for availability.

I'd also second the motion to keep it simple. Especially if this is your first time on your own and you are renting, you don't know what your housing future holds. It would be a shame to invest a lot of mney appliances that you couldn't take with you in your next location due to some unforseeable reason. I've been in that boat before, and had friends/family benfit from my misfortune.

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If you are looking to save some money you should see if any of the local places have a "ding and dent center". I assume aesthetics are important to you since you want a matching set, but you really only will see the front and top of the washer and dryer so a scratch on the side that you never have to see can save you a few hundred.

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We have a front-load Whirlpool set that is wonderful. After washing a load, keep the door and detergent dispenser open. It also helps to wipe down the door and seal after use. No problems here after 1-1/2 years.

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Washer and dryer all the way.

Front load. We bought a set last year and LOVE them.

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For dryers especially, keep it simple. The technology is very, very basic. It's a motor, a fan, a heating element, a belt that hooks it all together and some electronics that turn things on and off. And none of them are energy efficient. That's just the way that dryers are. Even the extra expensive models with the bells and whistles still dry clothes the exact same way; motor, fan, heating element and belt that hooks it all together. If you're able to deal with a mismatched set, save money by buying a cheaper dryer and go for the extra features on the washer.

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We bought the Samsung front load washer and dryer about 2 1/2 years ago and have had no problems. Like others say, get the pedestals. We got ours from H.H. Gregg, if you happen to have one of those in your area. Also, we keep a tennis ball (because that's what was handy) to keep the washer door wedged open some. We've had no problem with mildew or odors. We checked Consumer Reports and it had the least complaints.

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My experience is a little different from everyone else's, but I hope my 2 cents can help. I have a coin-op front-loading washer and dryer I bought used, after finding a listing/company on Craigslist. The coin-ops are in the basement of my three-family home for my tenants and I to use.

The company I got it from is local, run by friendly guys who know my area, advised me on what price to set, and what reliability to expect, based on estimated use. They get their machines from Mac-Gray, the huge coin-op laundry operation company. Then they refurbish them, and install the latest revisions from the manufacturer (like software, but they are mechanical mods!).

Actually, I bought most of my appliances from Craigslist. You won't get white glove service, but if bribing/coercing friends to help you move appliances frightens you, there are also plenty of people on Craigslist who are insured and will move appliances for you, for a reasonable fee.

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I bought a Samsung front-load HE washer and dryer set last year. It's too early to say much on the reliability, but I can tell you that we looked for weeks before we decided.

The two things about the Samsung model that made up our mind were related to reliability. First, it uses a "direct drive" system. This means no gears or pulleys, and less parts that can break. Second is the warranty. Keep in mind, a warranty doesn't cover all parts of a washer equally. That direct drive system has a 10 year warranty on it. The electronic controls only have about a 1 year warranty.

I'm not happy that I'm stuck with cheap buttons on my front panels. But that's across all brands. All brands seem to use cheap control boards and flimsy buttons. It's only a little more expensive for them to make rock-solid control boards, and use uglier mechanical switches. I would pay $100-200 more for this, but I have no choice.

I need to put the washer on a surge protector, to protect the control board.

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@omnichad: Oh, and I must add - we use the detergent cup from our detergent bottle to prop open the washer door a bit. That lets the inside of the washer dry out and prevent mildew.

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Recommend both Sears Outlet and negotiating one store against the other. Mom and Pop type appliance stores will usually match big box store's pricing and usually offer better customer service. Scrath and dent or floor units are another great way to save. It's your laundry pair, who cares if it has a scratch if that save you a hundred or two and doesn't affect it's use. Floor models you can usually negotiate another 10% off the price.

Agree also with not getting all of the bells and whistles. You'll find you use the basic settings the most.

When purchasing an appliance don't get too hung up on brand names...For example Kenmore is not made by Sears. It could be made by any of the major companies and just branded Kenmore. Same with any of the other brands. Just because it says GE, Frigidiare, etc. does not mean it came off of their assembly line. They all private label for other brands.

You might research the cost to repair different brands/models and the ease of getting new parts.

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WOW, thank you to EVERYBODY for all of your amazing info. I read every comment and this has been -so- helpful!! I think I've been talked into waiting until we get into the area to make the purchase and giving the smaller shops a chance. I'm still aiming to keep it as simple as possible while knowing I'm getting a reliable set (and yeah, for better or worse, my heart is still set on a matching pair). Fingers crossed I can find some good deals when we arrive at our new place!!

Thank you again so much, you guys!