Monday, October 4, 2010

A Rare Miss From Whirlpool! The Whirlpool WGD5200 Gas Dryer Is Just Cheap!

The Good: Inexpensive, Easy to clean.
The Bad: My experiences illustrated it was utterly ineffectual.
The Basics: A drastically underpowered and underperforming Whirlpool clothes Dryer, the WGD5200 Gas Dryer is not worth the buy!

Ahh . . . new dryers, a phenomenon most of us only go through twice or three times in our lives, if we are so lucky. I love clothes dryers, but I am in no position or mood to replace the one I own. However, on my trip to Michigan two months ago, I had the opportunity to help the person my wife and I were staying with with their new clothes dryer and the experience left me deeply disappointed in one of my favorite brands: Whirlpool. I own a Whirlpool High Efficiency Clothes Dryer and have loved it for over a year and a half now. However, our friend was simply looking for an inexpensive dryer and when we arrived, our arrival was quickly followed by the arrival of his new Whirlpool WGD5200 Gas Dryer.

This is a 7 cu. ft. dryer that the buyer wanted originally because it was gas powered (natural gas being inexpensive in his area of Michigan) and it had pretty large capacity. His laundry philosophy is that he wants to spend as little time on laundry as possible and he wants to spend as little money as possible on a dryer. To that end, he used the cost of use and cost of the dryer to make his decision to buy the WGD5200. I had never heard of or used this particular model and I watched as the unit was installed - which was nice, not having to do it ourselves.

The WGD5200 was ridiculously easy to install. The location had been prepared ahead of time and there was an exhaust port for the air right behind the dryer. As a result, as soon as the dryer was connected to the gas line, plugged in and the exhaust port directly connected to the outside, it seemed like our day was going to be pretty simple. The fact that we did not need any ductwork to connect this to the outside exhaust port impressed me. The dryer's exhaust pipe is scalloped to indicate it belongs inside the pipe. It's a male lead into a female exhaust pipe fitting. It fit perfectly in the exhaust port and we were ready to go with our day. On a lark, the proud new owner of the dryer said, "Let's do a load of laundry!" That was fine with me as my wife and I had driven quite a bit and taking a few hours to relax suited me just fine.

We should have quit while we were ahead. After doing a load of wash, we stuffed a load of whites into the dryer and activated the machine. The WGD5200 Gas Dryer is intuitive to use. It has a dial for the various durations of drying cycles - both timed and based on how wet the clothes were. There is the Wrinkle Shield, which we did not need to use because we were there paying attention to the laundry. On the right side of the dryer were the temperature controls, like Hot for whites, Warm for Delicates and "Fluff" (no heat). Turning the temperature dial and setting the time control is all one needs to do to set the dryer running. When the dials are set, simply press down the button on the top right of the control panel and the dryer fires to life.

I was all prepared to be impressed when the Whirlpool WGD5200 shut off after fifty minutes with the automatic drying time setting. I commented on how that seemed quick to the new owner and he smiled smugly, opened the dryer and tossed me a towel, a horrified expression blooming on his face as he did. As he threw the cloth, he realized what I realized moments later when it hit me in the face: it was still wet. It was not that the WGD5200 had left the towel damp, it was still very wet. Both my new friend and I were baffled that the lint trap was filled with lint, but none of the clothes seemed particularly dry.

So, we reset the dryer and made sure: the dial was to hot, the other dial was the longest duration. We even checked the load: it was less than forty pounds of wet clothes. The maximum capacity on the dryer was 100 pounds of wet clothes. There was plenty of room for our load to move around and plenty of room for air to move through the load. Fifty minutes later: the clothes were still wet, though less sopping than before. Now, our host was looking embarrassed and to save face, I suggested that it might be a sensor problem and that we should put the laundry on a timed cycle. So, seventy minutes later, we opened up the dryer and . . .the clothes were still pretty wet. Having eliminated pretty much every option I knew and recognizing there were no gas leaks in the house, we gave up for the night.

The next morning, my friend called the place he bought the dryer and later in the day, it was replaced. It came out as easily as it went in. We took the wet clothes from the night before, which were more damp than sopping now, and we tried again. The long story short is that it didn't work, either, and a repairman sent from the company was unable to diagnose the problem. Air was moving everything was properly attached and the load was balanced. Yet, the air in the units did not heat up.

Our friend decided to ditch this unit and ironically, I sold him on the dryer my wife and I have at home, save the gas model. (It worked.) So, I was left to contemplate this model. The WGD5200 Gas Dryer was easy to use, quiet when it ran and was exceptionally easy to clean the lint trap out of (simple open the front door, which folds down, and pull the filter up and out to clean). However, our experience with two brand new units illustrated that they did not get clothes dry. At all. As a result, this became an easy panning for a product from Whirlpool!


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© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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