"HE" washer using tons of water (literally)

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555
Location
MN
Thread starter
About a year and a half ago, our 20-year-old Kenmore toploader called it quits. That thing was a champ, washing probably 15 loads a week. (Who knows how much water it used, though.) We replaced it with a Maytag HE toploader from Lowes. It was the large capacity model, approximately 4.3 cubic feet. Right from the start, my mom didn't like it. She was having trouble getting things clean on the "normal" setting, plus the thing takes forever. She also complained of deposits left behind on darks. So when I was home for Christmas break, I took over laundry trying to find a solution to its problems. I ran loads (using minuscule amounts of HE detergent) and watched the water meter as I did so (no, nothing else in the house used water). "Normal" was hit or miss, but was the fastest setting. One small load came out to 17 gallons, about as expected but another medium-full load came out to almost 50! This cycle usually takes around an hour and a half. And both of those cycles were with the auto-sensing fill; "Deep Water Wash" is disabled with Normal. I tried a load on "Powerwash" and enabled "Deep Water Wash"; it took over 2 hours but used nearly 63 gallons of water! "Bulky/Sheets" used 56 gallons to run a full load on auto-sensing. Does this seem like too much? I could perhaps forgive the over-use of water if clothes came out clean, but they often do not. 50-63 gallons seems extreme and is likely more than our old model. (Just for fun, as for the "tons of water" in the title, it is using 2000 pounds of water per 5 loads!) Except one load, each has used 50+ gallons of water. This doesn't seem quite right for a HE machine, does it?
 
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1,070
Location
Maryland
If you are using 50 gallons of water that should not be. Should be 15-20 for a normal load. How many times is this thing re-filling during a wash load. Is water meter correct? Is there a toilet intermittently running? Do a toilet tank dye test to be sure.
 
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5,124
Location
Atlanta,GA
If you shut off all water usage is the meter still running? If so then you obviously have a leak. Top load HE washers, imo, are a horrible compromise due to the lack of a center agitator in any case does the washer have an 'auto-sensor' for determining cleanliness? If so that might be a possible explanation. Powerwash and Deep Water Wash will use a lot of water regardless. One option for your mother is to buy HE detergent which has phosphates. Lastly contact the manufacturer about the water usage. The unit might be defective.
 
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1,137
Location
canada
I have a may tag HE top loader as well , i'm not on metered water so can't verify the volume of water but its slow as you state and uses a lot of water , i poured five, five gallon pails of water and it brings it to the water line on the large to super, load size. so on a wash plus rinse cycle its roughly fifty gallons of water. the only water savings i see is on the normal cycle on my washer as the rinse cycle is a spray rinse only so it doesn't fill with water to run the rinse cycle.,
 
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945
Location
Virginia
I have never thought about how much water a washer uses, but 4.3 cubic feet is just over 32 gallons. So, it looks like the numbers are adding up to what i would expect for the various load sizes you mention. ie, a full load using 50 gallons for a soak/wash/rinse cycle seems about right given the size of the washer. shrug
 
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8,117
Location
New England
We hated our old LG HE top-loader. I was skeptical of the tiny little agitator at the bottom, but the reviews were really good and it had a ten-year warranty on the direct-drive system. Unfortunately, things never came out clean enough unless a ton of water was used (using the equivalent of your "deep water wash" setting, though I can't recall what it was called, since this was several years ago.) The tank also needed a few "clean tub" cycles over the years 9or whatever the cycle is called to clean only the tub itself without clothes), because it would develop a smell. We left the lid open most time between cycles, but the lid was vented. The vented lid and basement dehumidifier should have kept the tank smell-free, but that wasn't the case. Even though it was only a few years old, we let it convey with the condo when we moved into our house. I haven't measured the water usage with our new Samsung front-loader, but it appears to use much less water when I observe the cycle (listening and marking the fill and drain times, for instance.) Even on the express setting, our clothes come out more consistently clean. It has also been several years since we moved in and bought the front-loader, and we haven't had any issues with stink, buildup or leaking of the door gasket. We leave the door open after each cycle and have a dehumidifier in the adjacent basement bathroom, set at 45% RH. I've run the "clean tub" cycle (or whatever it's called) a couple of times over the years, anyway, though I don't notice a smell. I only do it, because it's a PM listed in the OM, along with cleaning the drain filter and supply screens, which only show a little bit of stuff in them.
 
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24,425
Location
Central Florida
Zero problems with a basic low cost non HE top load washer. OP's complaint reminds me of public restrooms where you get a slow drizzle of water when trying to wash your hands. smirk
 
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171
Location
NV
Originally Posted by Mr Nice
Zero problems with a basic low cost non HE top load washer. OP's complaint reminds me of public restrooms where you get a slow drizzle of water when trying to wash your hands. smirk
This my approach as well. I worked in the laundry appliance controls industry for 16 years, including the time period when domestic appliance makers were switching over to HE front loaders. Still not a fan. Laundry has always been a compromise between resource consumption, wear and tear on fabrics and getting your clothes clean. The newer front loader machines ,IME, do not strike a good balance. I rock a low line Admiral top loader with agitator. By using some common sense in fill level selection, temp selection and and cycle time selection you can still be pretty thrifty with resources and get your clothes clean with a cheap top loader with agitator.
 
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4,103
Location
SW Ohio
I'm positive that the HE rating only applies when you use the "auto sensing" water level option. If you use any of the other water levels, you've overridden the HE aspect. We bought an HE, top-loader about 5 years ago. It didn't have an agitator and didn't have a water level option. Our water usage dropped 25% and remained like that so I believe they work. Problem is, it died and while we replaced it with another HE (I suspect all washing machines are HE nowadays), this one is 4.3 cu ft vs 3.8, has a proper agitator (a "requirement" of my wife), and (4) water level settings. I'm not looking forward to our water bill now....
 
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1,480
Location
Northeast Nebraska
Not sure about the water but an hour and half to wash a load, is this normal? I've never timed our old top load Maytag but I know it's no where near that.
 
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4,103
Location
SW Ohio
That does seem like a long time but if so, it gives you time to dry a load of laundry, fold it, and put it away !! I think modern appliances have soooooo many cycles to "optimize" cleaning that it leads to these times. Our dishwasher's standard cycle is 1:59 (not kidding, it has a digital readout) or a "short" cycle of 60 minutes. The shorter cycle only uses a few less gallons of water though for running half the amount of time.
 
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840
Location
Texas, USA
Had a basic Maytag toploader for years, could take full control over the water level by manipulating the water level switch. You could fill it to the rim if you wanted to. When it bit the dust, we bought a fully-electronic GE super capacity. Huge stainless drum that we thought would be good for washing a lot at a time. Wrong. When set on anything besides "BULKY ITEMS", it uses so little water that the clothes are just agitated in a puddle. Nothing was getting very clean. So, we just leave it on the bulky setting, and "deep rinse". It still only fills the drum about halfway. When I have to wash something big, I wait for it to finish filling, then pour a five gallon bucket of water in, and turn it loose. What a PITA. Called an appliance repair guy. He looked up the schematics and determined there is no way to adjust the water level switch, like you can on some washers. So I'm seriously considering installing a "Y" on the water supplies and adding a section of hose so we can manually fill the tub without having to use a bucket. Hate to say that I look forward to this one dying so I can replace it with something I can have more control over.
 
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8,117
Location
New England
Originally Posted by JunkdrawerDog
Originally Posted by Mr Nice
Zero problems with a basic low cost non HE top load washer. OP's complaint reminds me of public restrooms where you get a slow drizzle of water when trying to wash your hands. smirk
This my approach as well. I worked in the laundry appliance controls industry for 16 years, including the time period when domestic appliance makers were switching over to HE front loaders. Still not a fan. Laundry has always been a compromise between resource consumption, wear and tear on fabrics and getting your clothes clean. The newer front loader machines ,IME, do not strike a good balance. I rock a low line Admiral top loader with agitator. By using some common sense in fill level selection, temp selection and and cycle time selection you can still be pretty thrifty with resources and get your clothes clean with a cheap top loader with agitator.
What makes you say that about the front-loaders? More wear and tear on clothes, because of the sloshing around? An "Express Wash" on my Samsung front-loader (tap-cold, highest spin speed, minimal detergent) is only 26 minutes and works for 99% of our washing needs. Let's face it, most of the clothes we wash aren't that dirty. The only thing that kills me (cost/environmental-wise), is that my wife wears her clothes just about once before washing; whereas, I go by smell and duty-cycle. In the winter, if I sit on my kiester all day in a cold office, I can go for a few days on the same pair of jeans. The only time I wash my jeans after one use is in the summer and I have to spend a good portion of my time down on the stinkin' hot deck-plates. If it don't stank, it don't need a drank, I say! I take that back. The only other thing killing us now are the two messy toddlers we have... My dedicated dirty clothes (for crap jobs at work, outside and dirty work at home, etc.) are all hand-washed in the large bin in my basement. The oily/nasty clothes are ONLY hand-washed and never see the washing machine. They just need to be clean enough to wear the next time and I don't want to contaminate the washing machine with these types of clothes.
 
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1,417
Location
Winnipeg MB CA
Yikes, that water usage would get really expensive here! We pay about C$0.007/litre (that is, about 7/10 of a cent) here, so call it US$0.02/US gallon. Fifty gallons/load = $1 just in water. Figure five or six loads per week = c. $25/month just in water. That would be close to half our total water bill. (Maybe that's realistic, but we also use water for washing, for cooking, for cleaning, for the toilets, and for the garden in summer. Would those all add up to as much as doing the laundry?) Sounds like something's wrong with the washer, or, as others have said, perhaps there's a leak elsewhere.
 
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3,566
Location
Somewhere
That could be correct. Especially when you figure they have to fill that tub with water to get any type of agitation without an agitator or a way to tumble them. Top loaders have always been a horrible way to wash clothes. Probably great when detergents were bad and you needed lots of them to get things and not have stuff redeposited but with modern detergents you really don't need much of each to get things clean. We switched to a front loader about 20 years ago (wow, its been that long) and couldn't be happier. Dirty clothes come clean and we can wash bigger things. It uses a small amount of water no patter the load. It does take time - about an hour for a normal load but we're doing like 9 pairs of jeans (that come clean) so the time is about even. I've put some nasty stuff in there (detailing rags) and they come out quite clean. Not perfect but it does great getting all that junk out. I was reminded how poor top loaders are when I was at a campground last summer with some dirty jeans. Nothing too bad - normal mud on a few pairs plus some shirts. Put them in the old school Speed Queen and 1/2 of them came clean. Back in again to get the rest of the dirt out. Never would have happened in our front loader.
 
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2,072
Location
America's Dairyland
My guess is you're still using too much detergent. Residue left on darks is a clear sign. Modern washers sense the excess suds during the drain and will add another drain & fill to remove it. It's possible you're also overloading it. The clothes should be fluffy only up to the max capacity of the machine, as defined in the manual. Front loaders are more efficient by nature if this is your concern. They also wash better. They best analogy is when you wash your hands, do you fill the sink and dunk them? No, you run your hands under the water and they get cleaner faster, using less water. FWIW, my front loader uses about 12 gallons per load and takes about an hour on a full load. The speed setting uses 6 gallons and takes 35 minutes and is for small loads. They typical non-HE top-loader before 2012 used 55 gallons so if your machine is even close to that consumption something is wrong. You need to record how many d&f cycles it does and how much water per fill.
 
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1,028
Location
Iron Asylum
I use the quick wash setting on our HE Samsung front load washer. It's a 27-minute cycle and seems to do an effective job of cleaning our weekly laundry.
 
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5,988
Location
Houston, Texas
Originally Posted by Mr Nice
Zero problems with a basic low cost non HE top load washer. OP's complaint reminds me of public restrooms where you get a slow drizzle of water when trying to wash your hands. smirk
You can thank all the people who leave the sinks running when they leave. Same with the automatic on off meter
 
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5,988
Location
Houston, Texas
What is considered a full load? As much as you can fit in without packing it? I find mine shakes a lot if you run with half a load. It will be out of balance and constantly restart a cycle when it sense it's shaking too much. I'll be sitting downstairs and it sounds like big foot is dancing around up there. Reason why I don't leave the house with the washer on.
 
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