Aug 25, 2008

Review: Maytag Epic Washer

Earlier this year, we had to buy a new washer. I shared the great deal I got, and promised a review. Now that it's been six months, I have enough info - including data from our electric and gas bills.

The Details

The washer we got is a Maytag Epic (sorry, I don't remember the model number). It's a front-loading high efficiency washer. It holds four cubic feet, so it's large enough to wash a queen size comforter. That was important to me, since with two little kids, we never know when or what kind of emergency laundry will need to be done.

The Performance

One of my concerns with getting an HE washer was performance. Having read that top-loading HE washers don't really get clothes clean, I was a bit wary. But we've had no problems at all.

I like that even though it's a front-loading washer, I can still stop the cycle for the first few minutes and throw in a stray sock or towel that escaped my initial loading. I risk having some water drip onto the floor when I do this, but since the washer is in the garage on a concrete floor, a little bit of water doesn't pose a problem.

I love having a drawer where I can add liquid fabric softener at the start of the cycle. I used to never use liquid fabric softener because I couldn't be bothered to remember to go to the garage to add it mid-cycle. But now that that's not a concern, I find myself using liquid fabric softener exclusively. It smells better, and also seems to be on sale more frequently. (I do, however, recommend against the Target brand, only because the bottle leaks when you're pouring.)

The drawer does pose a bit of a problem, in that water often pools there. Opening the drawer after the clothes have been removed from the washer allows the water to drain out, but of course, I don't always remember to do this. That, in turn, has resulted in a little bit of mildew buildup, though it's easy to remove.

The one thing I absolutely hate about this washer is the timer. When I start an average load, the timer starts off at 40 minutes. Everything seems to go along fine, until the last three minutes. Somehow those last three minutes last four or five times as long. In fact, I've found myself standing in the garage with the timer at 0:01 for a good five minutes, if not longer. It doesn't help that even on the loudest setting, the end buzzer can't be heard outside of the garage.

The Numbers

It's a little harder to find HE detergent on sale, partly because the drugstores don't always carry it - especially in my preferred variety of unscented, uncolored, etc. So my detergent stockpile is not what I would like it to be. This is one area where we are spending a little bit more money than we used to.

Efficiency-wise, the washer has not had enough of an impact to justify the cost. In other words, I would never recommend someone buy an HE washer to replace an older washer that's working just fine. We are using a little less hot water each month, but not significantly less. And our electricity usage has remained the same, since HE washers run longer than traditional washers (presumably they need to agitate longer because they use less water). However, the longer running time of the washer seems to offset somewhat by the shorter running time of the dryer, since our clothes come out less wet than they did out of the old washer. It will be quite a few years, however, before we recoup the cost of the washer in hot water savings.

The Bottom Line

Overall, I like our washer. But I wouldn't recommend it, simply because of that darned timer. If that wouldn't bother you, though, then by all means, this is a reliable washer at a good price (especially after rebates).


Anonymous said...

I also had noticed the timer discrepancy on my front-loading HE washer. I think if the load is unbalanced, it will not start the spin cycle until a balance is achieved, so the timer seems to suspend itself. If you're really concerned about saving as much as possible in utility costs, you might considering washing in just cold water. I used to be the sort who wanted to "sanitize" my daughters' clothes in hot water, but I've since abandoned that in the interest of cost-cutting.

Pheobie said...

I so love your blog and the reviews you do. I nominated you and your hard work for a blog award!

Unknown said...

I don't have this particular washer, but what looks to be a similar type of front loading HE washer (Frigidaire Affinity). We've only had it since early June, but other than the timer issue (which honestly, I don't think I would have noticed as I just haven't been in the same room as washer as it finishes up) I totally agree on your points. We needed a washer/dryer for our new home, and wanted Energy Star/HE front loaders. But if there had been ones left by prior owners, we would have spent the money on other, like curtains or an actual bedframe...Do you get a musty smell from the metal drum sometimes? I have had to do at least 2 loads without clothes, just with white vinegar in the wash to decrease that mustiness. I will be trying your idea to help get the leftover water from the detergent & fabric softener drawer and see if that helps. Have you found a good place to get the HE formula of detergents? I am on the last bit of the huge ALL from Sams Club last has lasted through the sumemr. Thanks for sharing your review!

MetaMommy said...

I've found the best deal for unscented Tide for HE washers at Target, so I stock up when I go. It's definitely not as cheap as other detergents because it's seldom discounted (I really stock up when it is), but a bottle lasts for a good while. I never fill the cap to level 3, but to level 1 or 2. Otherwise, I notice the wash is too sudsy.

Amazon carries the same detergent, but it's definitely more expensive than Target. That said, it's delivered to your door step. A real plus.

Lisa said...

Thanks for the info! My husband and I were considering replacing our 11 year old washer and dryer with a HE one. Nothing is wrong with our current appliances, we thought we'd be saving power and water. Perhaps just a front loading washer and dryer is what we need, not neccessarily the HE one.
It's nice to have a review after the product has really been tested.

ladygoat said...

I'd also recommend playing around with the HE washer options. For example, my HE washer has a quick cycle that's about 15 minutes shorter that works just fine for the lightly soiled clothes, which is a good portion of my laundry, since I work in an office and don't tend to get all that dirty.

Also, my HE washer has an "extra spin" option which takes out much more water out of the clothes, which means I use the dryer for a much shorter time, which has a bigger impact on electricity use than the electricity used by the washer itself since my dryer is old and probably inefficient.

Another plus of HE washers is that they are generally easier on clothes, so they may last longer. I've noticed a lot less lint coming off of my laundry.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Danielle - On the musty smell, try leaving the door open for a while after you've done your last load of the day so the inside can dry out. Also, if your washer has a rubber lip at the front, don't forget to check under periodically, as small items like baby socks can get trapped there. On detergent, if there is a sale at the drugstores, I'll pick some up, but it usually isn't the color/scent-free kind, alas. I agree with MetaMommy, though, Target usually has the best regular price on HE detergent.

@Ladygoat - I'll take a look at the options, thanks!

@Yune - Maybe it's because we have pretty hard water, but I've found that cold water doesn't quite get our clothes entirely clean. :(

First Step said...

We bought our Maytag front-loading HE washer about 5 years ago when we moved to our current home. We made the choice to go with HE because water costs substantially more in the town where we were moving, and we needed to cut down on our usage. With the help of the washer, we cut our usage by about 3000 gallons/month, which saves us about $25/month.

I'm not sure how the electricity cost factors in for us because we used an electric dryer in our old house, and we use a gas dryer now. Our clothes take less time to dry, and as ladygoat said, our clothes are lasting longer because they don't get beat up by the agitator. My t-shirts used to last only a year, and now I have some that still look ok and are about 3 years old.

For the detergent, I've found good deals at Food Lion on Gain HE. I recently paid $7.99 for the 100 oz., and I have a rain check in case I run out when it's not on sale.

Michelle said...

Regarding the small baby socks that get stuck under the rubber lip... I have a 4 & 5 year old and their socks still get stuck in there. Check it frequently or better yet, use one of those mesh laundry bags with the zipper for the little things. I've had the repair man out twice because I've gotten an error F02 (BTW, F stands for failure, not good). The washer stops running and when the repair man come out he's found that the socks have gotten pushed through the line with the water and then got stuck somewhere where the water drains and the water couldn't drain properly. I now use the bag each time.