Thursday, January 31, 2013


Originally published in the Observer Eccentric Newspapers

Here are just a few of the many emails I have received on the subject of today’s washing machines. They are typical of the comments I receive in person. Patrick writes: Can you recommend a reliable washing machine mfg. That really washes clothes. I purchased a top loader a few years ago only to discover that its sole purpose is to be a federal government agency mirage. It doesn't clean but does knot and wrinkle everything. This is a fraud! How do they get away with it? These are Rube Goldberg machines that take an hour to do nothing, but they sure do save water. Where are the class action lawsuits to sign up for? Mary writes: Your recent article in the O&E newspaper was so informative! We are about to purchase a new washer and dryer but have some serious doubts about their quality. We have talked to salesmen in stores, and researched each machine online and we are more confused than ever. The dryers are so large now that we will have about 2 inches from the wall when the door to the dryer is open! You have written about the lack of water in the new washers. That scares me a lot. I don’t have time to redo laundry that comes out of a washer still dirty. Also, one of the big things with the new washers is the locking lids! Whose “not so bright” idea was that? I hope that my husband will be able to take that lock off the new washer. Diane Armstrong, a noted author and columnist in Timmins Ontario dedicated a whole column to the subject of clothes washers. She writes: About ten years ago, the Green Movement came into being. We were told to cut back on water usage and electricity or natural gas. Why, in the interest of saving water and utilities, don’t the manufacturers to back to the Suds Saver? They already have the blueprints. But this would be logical. Good Grief!! Consumers must buy and use a product to clean a machine whose initial purpose is to clean? What’s wrong with this picture?

A few columns back I informed you about this recent invention that mounts on the wall behind the washer where you hook up your cold water line. This product allows you to wash clothes with little or no soap and use only cold water. There is a whole video presentation on this product and if you’re interested you can go to I saw the video, didn’t believe it but had one shipped to me. I have been washing clothes for 2 weeks now and that’s a new venture in my life. I just can’t believe it but it works. It’s made washing clothes an experiment for me and the results give me the confidence to write about it. This may be the best invention since the microwave oven. I took a 6 year old Carhart jacket that has never been washed and it came out clean as can be using no soap and only cold water. I washed several other jackets and I was pleased. I took a green T-shirt and covered the backside with blueberry juice and mustard. I let that dry for 4 hours and then washed it with no soap and cold water. All that stuff just plain disappeared. I did about 10 of my under shorts and all that stuff disappeared as well. Not only that, but the clothes smell so good and fresh. Suffice it to say that this old guy who is such a skeptic has been made a believer and it will take a team of horses to remove this from my home.

To my knowledge I don’t know if there is anyone selling this product in the area and even if it was sold around here, this column cannot be used as an advertising format. I can tell you it will be soon available at retail locations in the appliance business. I expect this product can save between 3 to 5 hundred dollars annually, depending on how many wash loads you do per week. Isn’t it a shame that the appliance manufacturers couldn’t build this product directly into the design of a new washing machine? I bet that sure would stop a lot of complaints from unhappy consumers. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Broken Wig-Wag

Name: Robert
City: Canton  M I

Inquery Type: Appliance repair question

Comments: My 20 year old Sears cloth washing machine will not spin the drum when discharging.  It makes a bad noise.  I think it could be the transmission?????

Hi Robert, Nice to hear from you.

You may be correct about the transmission but there is part called the Wig-Wag that is more prone to fail. It's a double solenoid that fits on top of the transmission and puts the unit into agitate or spin. It moves a couple of cam bars which activate the transmission. There is a lot of movement down there and it is very common for a wire to break. You can call my son Mark at 734-953-6991 and he'll talk you through it or come out and fix it.

Regards,  Joe Gagnon. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Multiple Appliances with Problems

Name: Ann
City: canton

Inquery Type: Appliance repair question

Comments: I have 3 appliances with problems.  Our 13 yr old Kenmore washer doesn't spin unless we give it a push.  I think it's the motor but don't know for sure.  My 7 year old Bosch dishwasher isn't draining properly even after cleaning accessible drain in the basin.  My 7 yr. old KitchenAid gas range has a power burner that isn't igniting properly and when it does, the flame is very low.  We used to be able to clean under the burner cover but that doesn't seem to work anymore.

Hi Ann Marie, thanks for the note.

I believe the washer has a worn out clutch assembly. On the dishwasher you need to check the drain hose to make sure there are no kinks in it and check the connection on the garbage disposer. Remove the hose and clean out the spout where the hose connects to the disposer. Clean it out with a table knife. The range may have a need for a regulator and should be checked out before buying any parts. Regards,  Joe Gagnon. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Consumer Question: Safely moving a freezer



Comments:    Hi  joe     W are moving  a deep freezer   just want to know can I put it on its side will it leak oil ? And how long do we let it sit before I plug it in.
Thanks  a lot Joe   

Hi Maurice, thanks for your note.

You can move it in any position as long as you do no damage to any of the tubing. I suggest you move it in the normal position because if not, you may affect the alignment of the lid which will result in a poor door seal. You cannot get an oil leak because this a sealed system. You must let it sit in a normal position for a least 2 hours before you plug it back in. The oil must be sure to migrate back to the bottom of the compressor or you can destroy the compressor.

 Regards,  Joe Gagnon. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Consumer Question: Faulty Dishwasher Agitator

Name: Joe

City: whitmore lake
Inquery Type: Appliance repair question
Comments: I have a Kenmore washer that doesn’t agitate on the bottom, sounds like something isn’t connecting properly, any comments.

Hi Joe, thanks for your note.
I believe you have a two piece agitator that has 2 plastic dogs between them. The dogs need to be replaced. Take off the top cap and remove the center bolt that holds the agitator down in place onto the transmission. Take the whole agitator to a parts store where they will take it apart and install the new dogs. Please let me know how you make out.
Regards,  Joe Gagnon. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Consumer Question: Dishwasher not cleaning dishes

Name: Gary

City: Alllen Park

Hello Joe,
I have a Kenmore Elite dishwasher 5-6 years old.  I has been a good performing machine with no history of problems until the last few days.  My dishes simply are not cleaning well at all, especially the items in the top tray.  i clean it periodically with one of the commercial products available at the hardware store, but not helping any more.  Any suggestions you can suggest would be much appreciated.  I know you have a DIY cleaning procedure using Tang powder.  Do you think that this could help my problem?  If so could you explain how to do the cleaning procedure.  Anything else you could suggest would be greatly appreciated.


Hi Gary, thanks for your note.
I would ask you to make the spray arms are clean and clear of any debris that might be plugging up the holes in the arms. Very common problem. I also need you to make sure there is plenty of water in the bottom of the dishwasher. Turn it on and let it run for 6 or 7 minutes, shut it off and open the door and check the water level. Let me know what you find please.
Regards,  Joe Gagnon.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Consumer Question: Washer doesn't get clothes clean

Just wanted to start out by saying, I love your column, it's my favorite item to read in the observer.  Now the problem, for the past year or so, when I do laundry, some of my clothes come out with what looks like grease stains on them.  They are predominantly on solid color cotton/fleece material.  These clothes do not have these stains when they enter the washer, but after I retrieve them from the dryer, I have to treat and re-wash.  So, bottom line is, I really don't know if the problem lies in the washer or dryer because it doesn't happen every time.  I have researched on the internet, and saw the familiar causes, commericial fabric softener, which I haven't used in about 10 years. I use white vinegar as my fabric softener.   Dryer sheets, again, haven't used in 10 years.  I use the blue balls with nubby's on them. The other possibility I've read about is oil being deposited from the washer.  My washer is going to be 20 years old in April 2013, it's a kitchen aid top loader and up to this point, have never had any need for service on it, it's been great!  Have wanted to get new washer because of stains, but after reading your articles and speaking with many people who have front/top loader HE machines, I am now on the fence.  At this point, I'm seriously thinking of having the washer refurbed, realizing that it will probably cost me the same as a new washer and keeping it as long as it can run.  I just watched that video on the purewash eco-friendly laundry system, and I've emailed them to purchase one. So, in conclusion, do you think it would be a wise investment to refurb the washer and keep it or purchase new?

Can't wait to hear from you,

Hi Jill, thanks for your note and the kind words.
You’ve stated your case very well which leads me to say: Your washer is most likely the culprit. Transmission oil is coming up the shaft and into the tub. A qualified technician could rebuild this washer at a cost of around $500.00 but I do not recommend you go that route. The reason I say this is simple.

The metal in this machine has been affected by all these years of use. You have corrosion factors that will be disturbed when you start the rough procedure of taking it apart. Some areas are prone to leak after it is put back together which won’t be covered by any kind of warranty and in the end it will turn into a waste of your money. I suggest you look at the Speed Queen top load washer which is made the old fashioned way without electronics. Look at my web site and go to Joe’s Picks. It is only carried at a few dealers in the area and you will see them on my website. Thanks again for your comments.
 Joe Gagnon. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Washing Machine Report

Dear Appliance Doctor,

Your recent article in the Observer/Eccentric newspaper was so informative!  We are about to purchase a new washer and dryer but have some serious doubts about their quality.  We have talked to salesmen in stores, and researched each machine online and we are more confused than ever.  The dryers are so large now that we will only have about 2 inches from the wall when the door to the dryer is open!  You have written about the lack of water in the new washers.  That scares me a lot.  I don’t have time to redo laundry that comes out of a washer still dirty.  Also, one of the big things with the new washers is the locking lids! Who’s “not so bright” idea was that?  I hope that my husband will be able to take that lock off the new washer.

Do you recommend any specific washer/dryer?  We are most interested in a Whirlpool top loader since it is made in the USA. Are we better off with a washer with an agitator?  You have helped us in the past at the Home Shows and now we could use your expert help again.

We have a 12 year old Maytag that has never been repaired correctly.  It tears the clothes and leaves black marks on them.  We have a 26 year old GE dryer that has given us great service and I really like it, but when we remodeled our kitchen a couple years ago, we bought all GE appliances and have had nothing but constant repairs on all of them!  So GE is not on our list of laundry appliances.

Thanks so much for reading this!  I hope you continue to write your great column and help us all with your expert advice!


Hi Mary,
Thanks for your note. You are a great writer who says a lot in a short time. Writing for a newspaper does not allow me to use the column as an advertising forum. Yes I do have opinions on who makes the best washer and gives the consumer the best bang for the buck. Go to and hit Joe’s Picks and you will find 2 appliance stores that sell Speed Queen made in Ripon Wisconsin. Look at them and know that they are made the old fashioned way. They also have an agitator and give you control of the water temperature and level. Please let me know how you make out. Regards Joe Gagnon. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Consumer Question: Leaky Dishwasher

Name: Robert

Comments: Hello Mr. Gagnon,
Subject: Leaking Dishwasher, Model # DU840CWDB5, Make: Whirlpool.

I, want to hank you in advance for your assistance.
I, love your Saturday Morning Show.

Question:  Can the Motor and Pump Assembly be replaced on this Dishwasher ?  In your opinion, is this a likely place for a leak to develop ?

Observation:  I, notice the leaking only occurred when the machine was filling with water, when the motor driving the pump started the leaking stopped. I, also noticed what appears to be a water stain on the body of the pump leading to the area where the motor shaft enters the pump.

Thanks again for your assistance.

Hi Robert, thanks for your note and the kind words. The pump and motor can be replaced on most dishwashers. What kind of unit do you have. What you have seen is a sure sign that the seal on the motor shaft is bad and water is leaking down the motor. It can also leak into the motor and when it hits the windings, the motor is shot. Some dishwashers can also have a shaft seal replaced depending the model and make. Your can call my son Mark at 734-953-6991 and he'll look up your model number and advise you. Regards Joe Gagnon.