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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Wash
March 26, 2012 8:22 PM   Subscribe

Long wash times and wet clothes with a Samsung front-loading washing machine -- please help!

I bought a Samsung front-loading washer a few months ago -- it's a model WF350ANW like this one, all-white chassis with the steam feature. The problem is that it often takes way too long to wash a load.

Example: yesterday I ran a load of three towels and six or seven shirts on the Delicate cycle (one of the shirts needs to be washed cold, and the Normal cycle won't do cold). The washer said it would take 45 minutes, but I timed it at well over 90, and the clothes were still wet in the end. It often seems to get stuck at "11" or "7" minutes for what seems like ages, but there are no other obvious symptoms or error codes.

This happens all the time... not with every load, but I've timed some of them at over two hours! I called Samsung and they sent someone out to level the machine and replace the pressure sensor and circuit board, but it's still doing it, so I figured I'd ask the hive-mind before I call for an RMA number. Any suggestions?
posted by vorfeed to Technology (17 answers total)
 
Note: this is the first non-laundromat front-loader I've used, so I might be doing something stupid. I'm using HE liquid soap as instructed, and there's no way I'm overloading the washer (if anything, I might not be putting enough stuff in there, but it seems to happen with larger loads, too). Moderator, please soap me!
posted by vorfeed at 8:26 PM on March 26, 2012


This sounds like a computer glitch. I would call whoever is responsible for your warranty about it. Don't even entertain with them the possibility you're doing something wrong -- just describe how a 45 min cycle takes 90 min.

As a POI/anecdata, we have a Samsung front loader too although I think it's a different model. A month or so after we got it, it wouldn't start because it thought the door was open. Every other load! We'd have to turn it off and sing to it and I don't know what. I finally decided this was not normal and it turned out to be a common problem, as far as what the warranty people said. THe motherboard had to be replaced.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:36 PM on March 26, 2012


Sorry, I see that you've already called the Samsung people. I would recommend following up as you've said you're considering..... I don't mean to make it sound like our prob was all taken care of in one step.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:37 PM on March 26, 2012


We have one, too. We love ours although the front door seal needed to be replaced within a few weeks. I think it was a fluke as it has been fine now for almost a year. 45 mins takes 45 mins.
posted by bz at 8:54 PM on March 26, 2012


My experience is that when a front loading machine gets stuck near the end of the cycle, it is sensing that the load is unbalanced in some way, so that it isn't able or willing to spin up to full speed to spin the water out of your clothes. It will try a bunch of times, slowly rotating back and forth in between to try to redistribute the load, before finally giving up and running at a lower speed (hence your wet clothes). So either your machine is sensing a real imbalance or somehow the sensor is faulty. Since they've already replaced the sensor, I'd check the level again (many front loading machines need to be dead-level, maybe the tech didn't quite get it right). One other thing to double check is that you removed all of the shipping bolts that hold the drum in place - there are often a handful on the back of the machine. Otherwise, there probably isn't much you can do.
posted by ssg at 9:40 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a former appliance salesperson, a couple of ideas come to mind. However, if Samsung can't answer your questions I don't know what the issue is. I'm guessing you've already gone through these issues with them, but I'm going to list them anyway just in case.

- Front load washing machines take longer than top loading machines, but your dryer cycles should be much shorter. Are your expectations aligned with that shift (I suspect they are since you're referring to the machine estimated time to completion)?
- The dryer time is cut down because front loaders uses much less water and spin the water out at significantly higher rpm. So if the clothes are coming out wet I wonder if a) the washer is using more water than it is supposed to, b) the washer isn't spinning as fast as it is supposed to, or c) the spin cycle isn't happening.
- Check your manual to see if the Delicate cycle also reduces the maximum rpm. That might result in wetter clothes.
- I'm not sure about that model, but it may be extending cycles beyond their ETA due to a bad soil sensor (it thinks the clothes are still dirty so it washes them again) or maybe a moisture sensor that is noticing that they aren't dry enough and so extends the spin cycle. Rather than noticing what the screen says, you may want to pay attention to what actions (wash, rinse, spin, etc.) it goes through, how many times it does them, and how long they take individually.
- Also note how much water it is using. Generally front loaders should have just enough water to reach the bottom of the glass window.
- You wrote that you're using HE soap, which is good, but how much of it are you using? If you are using too much soap that could be screwing with its sensors as well. Soap residue is equivalent to dirt residue, which means wash the clothes again.

On preview, front loading machines should never be unbalanced, unless they were damaged during delivery or installation. They should never be laid on their side, for instance. They can have problems if they aren't perfectly level, however.
posted by postel's law at 9:57 PM on March 26, 2012


Actually, now that I think about it I think you have to lay the machines on their side to install the pedestals. Maybe it's that you shouldn't lay them on their side after removing the shipping bolts. I've been out of the business for five years, my memory is fuzzier than it used to be.
posted by postel's law at 9:59 PM on March 26, 2012


FWIW: I've had this problem with a Bosch frontloader and a GE frontloader: in both cases, the culprit was the detergent. I use Tide HE, but if you use some types of Tide HE, or too much of it, it clogs up the machine, which it interprets as dirt or damage. This has caused me problems with drying more so than washing, and sometimes results in very very long cycles. I had this problem with Tide HE Febreze, which I eventually just stopped using.

Try running some cycles empty (just water, no clothes or soap), and try cutting back on the amount of soap you use, or change to an unscented no-additive soap. That may fix your problem.
posted by Susan PG at 10:11 PM on March 26, 2012


Thanks, guys! Here's a followup:

The machine is definitely not dead-level (nothing in the house is!), but it doesn't wobble when you shake it or when it spins, and two different repairmen re-leveled it and then said it ought to be fine. I'm not sure what else I can try with regards to this, as the floor itself isn't level... maybe I'll have a friend come over and see if we can shim it?

- Front load washing machines take longer than top loading machines, but your dryer cycles should be much shorter. Are your expectations aligned with that shift (I suspect they are since you're referring to the machine estimated time to completion)?

Yeah, 45 minutes is fine -- it's just frustrating because I can never tell how long it'll take beforehand, which means I have to set aside a two-hour block for every load.

- The dryer time is cut down because front loaders uses much less water and spin the water out at significantly higher rpm. So if the clothes are coming out wet I wonder if a) the washer is using more water than it is supposed to, b) the washer isn't spinning as fast as it is supposed to, or c) the spin cycle isn't happening.

The spin cycle is definitely happening, but sometimes it takes ages to get going. It tends to flop the clothes around for minutes at a time first. The repair guy said this is why he replaced the pressure/load-balance sensor, but it's still happening.

- Check your manual to see if the Delicate cycle also reduces the maximum rpm. That might result in wetter clothes.

Yes, Delicate does put it on "low spin". I should have mentioned that the washer doesn't always leave the clothes wet, either -- the long-cycle thing happens very frequently, but the wet-clothes thing only occasionally (in this case it might indeed be because I washed towels in a low-spin cycle). The delays happen on the Normal cycle too, though.

- I'm not sure about that model, but it may be extending cycles beyond their ETA due to a bad soil sensor (it thinks the clothes are still dirty so it washes them again) or maybe a moisture sensor that is noticing that they aren't dry enough and so extends the spin cycle. Rather than noticing what the screen says, you may want to pay attention to what actions (wash, rinse, spin, etc.) it goes through, how many times it does them, and how long they take individually.

I just watched it through a Quick Wash (with no clothes, however), and I guess a watched washer never delays, because it was only three minutes slow. If anything, it seems like it hesitates a bit going into the spin cycle...? I'll try it again with some clothes tomorrow.

- Also note how much water it is using. Generally front loaders should have just enough water to reach the bottom of the glass window.

That's about as much water as it uses.

- You wrote that you're using HE soap, which is good, but how much of it are you using? If you are using too much soap that could be screwing with its sensors as well. Soap residue is equivalent to dirt residue, which means wash the clothes again.

I use Seventh Generation Free & Clear HE soap, and not very much of it -- I only ever fill it to the first line on the cap. I'd be shocked if I were over-soaping it.

Thanks again!
posted by vorfeed at 11:02 PM on March 26, 2012


Try a larger load. When you have a smaller load, the clothes tend to make a small but heavy clump that prevents it from spinning efficiently, and as ssg notes, it will juggle until it finds a good, even distribution of the clothes, or it will eventually give up, which is probably why you're getting long cycles and an inefficient spin. A bigger load is more evenly distributed in the drum, so less juggling.
posted by sageleaf at 11:42 PM on March 26, 2012


Another thing that comes to mind is that if the pump that empties the water isn't doing its job, the clothes will be far heavier than the machine expects and will have similar problems. We have a Huebsch (sp?) commercial one, and it does a variable spin thing where it spins very slowly at first until the bulk of the water is removed, and then speeds up as the clothes get drier (lighter).

If the pump isn't able to empty the water, it will do what sageleaf suggests.

I would also suggest trying a few loads with clothes of similar fabrics. I can imagine a scenario where three heavy towels and some light shirts might have a hard time getting balanced. Try just towels or just shirts. Just to rule that out as a possibility.

Anyway, keep calling Samsung until it works right. Take videos of the machine so you can show the tech the problem, just in case it refuses to misbehave when they are there.
posted by gjc at 2:41 AM on March 27, 2012


I'm not sure what else I can try with regards to this, as the floor itself isn't level... maybe I'll have a friend come over and see if we can shim it?

If your floor is so un-level as to be beyond the range of the machine's own screw feet, try that for sure. Pieces broken off an old cork tile are what we use for this job at our house.

Also, over-soaping a front loader is actually staggeringly easy to do. See what happens if you run a full load with no detergent at all. If it works, try half your usual amount.
posted by flabdablet at 4:10 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my experience, putting cotton towels in a delicate load is an exercise in frustration: the towels soak up a huge amount of water & the delicate setting means that the washer often can't manage to evenly distribute them around the drum so then the drum is out of balance & the spin cycle fails to start correctly as it spins up & then stops when the washer detects that the drum is out of balance.

I would separate out delicates from your other washing & put them on their own wash. The idea is not to stuff everything that needs cleaning into the washer & then set the machine according to the lowest tolerance garment in there, but to divide the washing by type and set the washer appropriately to the type of washing you put in it.
posted by pharm at 5:45 AM on March 27, 2012


My experience is that when a front loading machine gets stuck near the end of the cycle, it is sensing that the load is unbalanced in some way, so that it isn't able or willing to spin up to full speed to spin the water out of your clothes.

I've had this happen, and you can see it and here it -- at 7 or 11 minutes, you hear it start to wind up, then a click and the drum spins down. It then does a couple of back-and-forth sloshes to try to redistribute the clothes and tries the spinup again.

Two of the big three causes are mentioned -- not enough clothing, so it can't spread out enough to balance, and an unlevel washer. I noticed that back-and-front level was much more important than side to side, so if it's nose down or nose up, that might be an issue. You need to have enough clothing so that it can balance on spinup -- basically, when it starts to spin, the clothing at the very bottom doesn't move, but the clothing at the top of the pile falls over when it starts to spin, and it distributes around the drum.

I hadn't thought about the problem with one or two big towels in a load of shirts, but yeah, it would have to hit perfectly to spin correctly. What I'd do is try to wash a full load of shirts. If that spins up fine, then try a full load of towels. If both those work, it's the mixed workload. You either need more towels, less shirts, or just do them separately.

The third thing that I ran into was sheets that get twisted up. My solution was to throw in a towel, which seemed to help them not twist and would often form a counterweight. This worked with the much larger sheets.

Big professional units -- I'm talking steam-fed units taller than we are -- actually have active balancing systems that pump water into and out of pockets around the drum to get the balance right for spinup.
posted by eriko at 7:34 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did you check the front filter? You can sometimes have an issue if you do not clear out the front filter (the one behind the second panel). I had a load that would not drain and that was the culprit.
posted by jadepearl at 6:07 PM on March 27, 2012


I levelled the washer -- it's still not quite dead-level (this is surprisingly hard to achieve with a stacked washer/dryer on an uneven floor!) but the bubble is well within the center lines in both dimensions. I also tried running a large load of just shirts, running it without soap, checking the front filter, and running it on different cycles, but no dice. It still hesitates for up to 20 to 30 minutes before entering the spin cycle. I called the repairman again; we'll see what he says.
posted by vorfeed at 11:30 AM on March 30, 2012


Update: I never could get the washer to finish on time. Samsung's customer support never gave me an RMA number, either -- I got the idea that they consider this a "that's the way it is" kind of deal, which seems ridiculous given the cost of these washers. Fortunately Lowe's agreed to swap the washer for another model, so I picked out a plain-jane Maytag top-loader that washes clothes in exactly one hour every time.
posted by vorfeed at 11:04 PM on May 8, 2012


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