Putting an end to an endless washing machine cycle

We found a fix for the 4-hour cycle time on a reader's washer

Published: December 2014
Distribute the load evenly when you're doing laundry.

Wednesday is wash day at the home of Joya and Lewis Fevola on Staten Island in New York. Usually they do six large loads. But when their new LG high-efficiency (HE) top-loader took four hours to complete one cycle, wash-day Wednesday became Thursday’s nightmare.

Fed up, Lewis contacted the customer-service department about the appliance (model WT1101CW) they bought about seven months earlier for $629. It was “consistently out of balance,” he recalled. “It completely filled the tub with water numerous times to rebalance the load.”

The company sent a technician to level the machine, but the problem persisted. Told that he would be charged for the next service call, Lewis did what any savvy consumer would do: He ranted on Twitter and sent an e-mail to LG’s CEO, but to no avail. Then he wrote to us.

Consumer Reports tested this LG washer in 2013 and found that it was very good overall, including cleaning, and that the loads didn’t become unbalanced. But of the 81 user reviews posted on ConsumerReports.org as of November 2014, 33 cited imbalance issues.

Check our buying guides for washing machines and dryers.

We contacted LG for an explanation and spoke with John Taylor, vice president of communications. “LG has sold hundreds of thousands of these washers in the U.S.,” he said. “The service repair rate for an imbalanced load is less than 1/10 of a percent.”

HE top-loaders spin faster than washers with agitators to extract more water and cut down on drying time; that can result in load imbalance. Taylor told us that LG updated software on its HE top-loaders made as of December 2013 to better identify that potential problem. Rather than going into spin, the machine flashes an alert to tell owners to rebalance the load.

The next day, LG sent a tech to the Fevolas’ home for a software update, but Lewis says that the problem wasn’t fixed. So another tech installed a new circuit board and rotor, at no charge. “Amazing!” Lewis said weeks later. “It hasn’t become unbalanced once.”

What does that mean for you?

If your HE top-loader, agitator top-loader, or front-loader has imbalance problems, check the manual for proper loading and machine leveling. (Taylor suggests washing similar items together in LG HE top-loaders, such as towels in one load and sheets in another, distributing evenly.) If problems continue, contact customer service. A software update for LG machines might be the answer—and it’s covered by the warranty. “Units outside the warranty period are handled on a case-by-case basis,” Taylor said, adding that the same applies for parts and labor.

Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the February 2015 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.


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