Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another Appliance Review: My New Frigidaire Tumble Action Frontloading Washer!

The Good: Energy and water efficiency! Affordable, Gets clothes clean, Easy to use
The Bad: Does not include high-pressure tube to connect to water supply, Water left in front of unit
The Basics: This Frigidaire Tumble Action Washer cleans clothes with only minimal water and energy and it is worth the buy for anyone with average clothes cleaning needs!

Given that I just bought a clothes washer - three months ago - now seemed the right time to resurrect my appliance reviewing. I've been quite happy with my Frigidaire energy efficient clothes dryer (reviewed here!) and so when I went looking for a new clothes washer, I felt some loyalty to the brand. Indeed, my kitchen has a pretty homogenous Frigidaire look to it, now my laundry room does, too!

After much shopping around, I ultimately chose the Frigidaire P/N 134849000 (0701), model #FTF2140ES front-loading Tumble Action Washer. For those unfamiliar with the basic principles, the front-loading washers have the look of the traditional clothes dryer with clothes being put through a door in the front of the unit, as opposed to the top. As a result, clothes are washed through a spinning motion in the z-dimension, as opposed to an agitating motion in the x/y dimension. In simpler terms, unlike the traditional clothes washer, the Tumble Action Washer does not have clothes resting in the water is has made filthy. Instead, water passes through the dirty clothes, into the drum where the dirt, hair and other matter appears to be filtered as the washer drum spins.

One need not be a disciple of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth to want to reduce the environmental impact one has on the world through such mundane tasks as washing clothes. The Frigidaire Tumble Action Washer, though, is designed to lower the amount of water and electricity used to clean clothes and it certainly lives up on that end.

Let's start at the beginning. The Tumble Action Washer is a medium-sized clothes washer. It sits three feet tall by 27" wide with a front to back depth effectively of almost 28" (the front panel of the washer tub is a clear door that curves outward, adding a little more depth to the front than the unit would otherwise have). The Tumble Action Washer has a 3.5 cubic foot capacity and it runs on a standard 120 volt, grounded power supply.

Despite what might seem like a smaller washer, it holds a decent amount of clothes in it and it has the ability to get full loads quite clean. So, for example, I have washed two quilts in mine at once and both came out clean and free of everything from stains to cat hair. A standard load that does not overfill the drum allows all of the clothes in the Tumble Action Washer to get fully cleaned.

It is worth noting that my Frigidaire Tumble Action Washer was professionally installed - it came included with the price of the unit where I purchased it - so I cannot speak entirely for the ease of setting the unit up. Because my prior washer had had some problems, I already had a high-pressure line attached to the water inlets and outlets. This was a good thing as one was not included in the unit. Instead, the buyer must be sure that connections to the water supply and drainage will meet the pressure needs of the Tumble Action Washer. Any decent place selling this unit will know exactly what one needs in terms of connections and it is better to be overprotected in this area as opposed to under-protectected (and risk rupturing a pipe!). Because I have a very stable floor where this was installed, I did not opt for the overpriced pedestal attachment that could have been purchased with this.

Watching the installation of the unit, though, it seemed remarkably easy and I could see why the installation crew did not need to use the installation guide. This is a pretty straightforward assembly: remove from box, attached tubes, plug in, run. In truth, it is almost that easy (the most complicated thing for replacing an existing washer might well be removing the styrofoam shipping plug from the bottom) and most of the installation manual concerns itself with finding an appropriate place to set the unit up. This is as close to plug and play as a clothes washer might get! The guide is quite well-written and the do-it-yourselfer ought to have no problems installing it, so long as they read ahead for all of the needed materials before starting the project.

Usage is equally simple. The Frigidaire Tumble Action Washer has fairly intuitive controls and after three months of usage, the only function I have not seen fit to use is the time-delay function. Why wouldn't I want to run my washer right now? I don't know! In addition to the Use & Care Guide (a pretty obvious collection of notes on how to take care of the washer) there is a whole cheat sheet with Washer Operating Instructions. In truth, though, this unit, which is controlled by a dial for simple settings, another dial for wash/rinse temperature cycles and a series of push buttons for spin cycle and activation, is a remarkably easy appliance to use. As well, if anything goes wrong, there is a little series of LED lights on the side of the panel that give very easy to understand status reports on what the state of the washer is.

Thus, if the door to the unit is open, there is a light that lights up and prevents activation. As the cycles progress, the light moves down the options from "Wash" through "Final Spin" to let users know exactly where they stand. This is easy to use. Simply open the fluid receptacle door on the upper left to put in the detergent, fabric softener and bleach as needed and push the controls to start. It's that easy. Less than an hour later, poof! Clean clothes.

It is worth noting that the spinning mechanism to the Tumble Action Washer acts much like a dryer and the clothes come out of this washer drier than from most clothes washers. This saves money on the drying process from one's dryer and that, too gives it extra value.

So, what won't you get anywhere else from this product? What should you know before picking this unit up? In addition to being remarkably easy to use, this unit requires special detergents for High Efficiency washers. There is a logo on most brands to indicate ones that will work in washers like this. The reason for this is simple; the washer uses less water than standard washers, so the proportion of detergent to water needs to be altered and that is what the High Efficiency detergents do.

Also not in the manual is the one minor performance quirk of the Frigidaire Tumble Action Washer. Water pools in the front of this unit. The metal drum that spins (where the clothes go) is topped on the door side by a flexible rubbery sealer which keeps water from leaving the washer. Unfortunately, it also has a bit of surface area higher than the drum where water can accumulate. I keep a rag next to the washer just to mop this up to avoid rot or mold and if I am putting a second load in after my first, I always use a piece of clothing to mop up the puddle that invariably accumulates there.

The unit is deceptively quiet during the washing and rinse cycles. Indeed, at first it was unnerving to have this clothes washer because I was convinced it was not doing anything save lighting up buttons on the front of the washer. If it weren't for how clean my clothes always get, I might still believe that.

And then there's the spin cycle. It's not loud, but it does make enough of a sound that if one is in an adjacent room, one is likely to hear the spinning of the drum. The spin cycle works amazingly, though and clothes come out clean and surprisingly close to dry from the washer.

All in all, there is little or nothing to actually complain about about the Frigidaire Tumble Action Washer. It is truly energy efficient. Since replacing my old washer and not altering my cleaning or other electrical usage habits, I have noticed a $5.00 per month decline in my electric bill over the same three months last year! Considering I do one load of laundry once a week, that's pretty extraordinary. Imagine what a full family might save using this!

This is an excellent, high efficiency clothes washer and if one is looking for something affordable and that will actually save time and money on cleaning clothes, it is hard to imagine one that will perform better than this one.

For other laundry-related reviews, please be sure to check out:
Whirlpool WGD5200 Gas Dryer
Whirlpool WED9400S Electric Clothes Dryer
Whirlpool WFW9400S Washer


For other appliance reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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