Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Soliciting Opinions

Everything going on in my life right now has already been blogged about ad nauseum (like the fact that Landon reverted in his poor sleep habits last night, and JP and I didn't go to bed at a reasonable hour because The Daily Show spurred yet another Obama debate, so I'm really tired, and how I'm freaking out about my unstarted papers and how behind I am in my classes, and that the list of things to be done before our move in 30 days is a mile long, and yeah... the usual mix of whining, stress, and panic), so I am going to ask for product reviews instead.

JP and I will be in the market for a refrigerator, washer, and dryer in a few (rapidly approaching) weeks. I'd like the fridge to be stainless or "stainless look" because the colors in the kitchen are already rather dark and the sink is stainless. I have no preference yet on the type of washer and dryer. I'm intrigued by the front-loading washer option but I've heard they have some leaking and moldy-smell issues, so I welcome all opinions.

Any brands, models, or styles you love or hate? In Texas your fridge is chattel, so all of this stuff is going wherever we go for the next many years (my parents still have their fridge from their first house in 1980!) and we'd like to get good ones with minimal amounts of buyer's remorse. Thoughts on places to purchase these items, especially in Austin also welcome!

36 comments:

  1. I love the note about the fridge being chattel. We have a stainless fridge with a bottom-freezer and I really like it. We also have a whirlpool front loading washer and dryer and I LOVE them- the clothes get so much dryer in the washing machine because it spins out so much of the water that the drying cycle is WAY shorter than in our old machine. (Like 34 minutes.) I can get you precise brand/model info if you want!

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  2. Hehe, when our realtor said that I almost yelled "chattel!!" because I loved that word in property and I was proud to know what it meant :)

    I would actually love the model numbers for the washer/dryer - I've had several people tell me their models got a musty/moldy smell after a while and it sounds like yours isn't doing that!

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  3. I don't remember what the model number was (sorry!), but we used to have a front-loading washer/dryer; they were Kenmore, from Sears, whatever the top of the line was in 2004. They were AWESOME. We never had any problems with leaking, the clothes got amazingly clean, and like the first commenter says, drying took much less time. The doors on front-loaders seal REALLY tightly, so I can see how you might run into problems with mildew if you're someone who runs a load of laundry and forgets to take it out of the washer for a couple of days. I think I did that once and things smelled a little musty - but I just rewashed them, and then dried them RIGHT AWAY, as one probably should anyway. I seriously can't see how you'd have mildew problems otherwise (maybe it helped that we left the door to the washer open/ajar when we weren't using it). We'd never have got rid of them except we were moving cross-country to an apartment without hookups.

    (Hi, my love for front-loaders has lured me out of lurker-mode - I'm going to law school in the fall and so I've started reading law student blogs. Landon's so cute!)

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  4. my washer and dryer make me swoon. they were a splurge. i bought he kenmore he5t steam washer and dryer. I love the steam function. they're great b/c you can do a tiny load and the washer measures how much water to add. love them to death. i've had no problems at all!!!

    I have the GE stainless steel fridge/oven/microwave. all of them are gorgeous. my oven is a convection oven which has CHANGED my life, lol. i also like the fact that the oven has a built in probe.. i simply tell my oven what the internal temperature of the meat should be and my meat is perfectly cooked and succulent.

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  5. all of my ge stuff has been digital read by the way -- i think it's a must!!!

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  6. Sorry, no advice... all our stuff has been from Craigslist or bought from friends!

    Just make sure the ice/water dispenser on the door of the freezer is nice and high. We just happened to end up with a fridge where it will be out of toddler reach for at least another year, but I have friends who have a lot of trouble with their kids playing with the icemaker. Not something I thought of until I saw Charlie heading for the fridge with a cup and then trying to get it in the (too high) dispenser. Phew!

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  7. Apparently, just like New Kid on the Hallway I'm going to come out of lurkdom over my love of appliances!? I've been reading along for a while now. I live in Chicago, have a 14 month old, and was pointed to your blog during The Nightmare. I work full time too and am buying a house, so I totally understand your stress!

    Enough babbling - my 2 cents = Sears! Get thee to Sears. I have the Kenmore HE3 washer and HE4 dryer and love them. They are huge, stackable and work great! One tip for front loaders - do not leave the door of the washer closed. This is what will cause a mold/mildew problem around the seal. Good luck!

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  8. I have a Maytag Epic Front-Load Washer & matching dryer. If there is an option to buy a stacker or shelf (not sure what it is called)to put below it I'd definitely recommend that. My only complaint about our washer is that it sits a bit too low and I wish it sat up higher.

    I'm in Austin. We went to the Lowe's on Shoal Creek sort of near the Arboretum. The people who worked there were so nice to us, they had a great selection in the store and we got free next day delivery.

    Here's the store info:
    LOWE'S OF CENTRAL AUSTIN, TX, #1727
    8000 SHOAL CREEK BOULEVARD
    AUSTIN, TX 78757

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  9. I wish I had good advice on brands, but I don't have much experience in that area. I do know that stainless appliances look so amazing!

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  10. We are pretty cheap. We have a Kenmore range, hood, fridge and love it. Sometimes ol' reliable is best. We also have a Kenmore high effeciency front loading washer and dryer, and couldn't be happier, they are also lovely. It doesn't hurt that my Grandma used her Sears employee discount to get us an extra 10% off. ;)

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  11. I am no help here. I had a brand-new maytag top-loader and dryer (couldn't afford a front-loader back then) and was forced to leave it when we moved because the new house had maytag washer/dryer (didn't matter to Justin that the new house had older washer/dryer...he's still paying for that!). As it is, we always leave the lid to our washer open when not in use to prevent any fun smells. When we built our townhouse, we got appliances through the builder and didn't upgrade too much because DEAR LORD we couldn't stand to watch our mortgate continue to creep up and up. I can tell you that having a dishwasher where the silverware basket does not take up valuable shelf space is a must. Whirlpool has that option on most of their dishwashers.
    http://www.whirlpool.com/catalog/product_feature_popup.jsp?parentCategoryId=74&categoryId=108&productId=710&featureKey=SF20377

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  12. We have higher end appliances in a lower-end house, but it's easily worth it. Bosch dishwasher - you really will not be sure if it's on or not, because it is THAT QUIET, which you can get on the lower end from $700-900. Worth three times the money - cannot emphasize this enough. I can talk on the phone directly in front of the running dishwasher and the other person can't even tell. I've even opened it without realizing it was on! Seriously - we've sold four or five of them now, by having people over to our eat-in kitchen while it's running!!!

    Ditto the Kenmore washer/dryers.

    We hate our nicer GE side-by-side because neither side is wide enough. I love the idea of the side by side style with the two bottom drawers that can be freezer or fridge, depending.

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  13. I don't have any recommendations on brands, but one bit of advice: don't skimp! If you have to do one of those 12 months same as cash things to get what you want, do it! We totally skimped on the washer and dryer and our dryer EATS MY CLOTHES. I HATE IT. I WISH IT WOULD DIE. We got the lower end models because we're stingy and didn't want to spend a ton of good money on something dumb like a washer and dryer, when that money could go to stuff we really want. Big mistake!!

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  14. I don't have advice on washers and dryers. We inherited the cheap-o washer/dryer from the previous owner, complete with a mold problem in our TOP loader. My husband bought something on line to take care of the mold problem and now it is fine.

    As for stove, our house came with a Viking and we really love it. It is a full six burner professional stove with a griddle. I definitely recommend getting a stove with a double oven if you can afford it because it is so nice for big holiday dinners. Our dishwasher and fridge are regular kenmores. We don't have a water dispenser (we use the britta). I have one warning though about toddlers and ice/water dispensers. My 3 year old LOVES the ice/water dispenser at my mother's house and she has a habit of taking glasses out of the cabinet, filling them to the brim with ice and water (or to overflowing) and then walking around the house with full glasses to see if anyone is thirsty. While Landon may not enjoy this pastime, it is a risk you should be aware of ;)

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  15. I love my LG stainless steel fridge. It is so pretty and we got a good price on it at Home Depot. LG also has the best warranty on the compressor. I highly recommend purchasing through Home Depot or Lowes.

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  16. I have had great luck with my Sears Kenmore Appliances. But, most importantly, just go to Sears to buy... You can go to a Sears in Chicago to buy, and they will deliver anywhere in the country. I bought my washer and dryer in Colorado right before I moved to Austin, and they delievered it to me the day after I moved into my new place with no haslte! Plus, they have pretty good financing options and sales all the time.

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  17. The Austin library has consumer reports magazines on file that you can look over to get rating info for free.

    Avoid Sears, check Home Depot for their occasional clearance items, and you might want to look at the Giant Discount Appliances on North Lamar. I don't know if they're actually any good, but they've got "giant" and "discount" in the title, so it's worth a shot. There's also a habitat for humanity re-store on East 7th, but their stock of home items is constantly changing. And don't forget that Frys sells appliances too.

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  18. I can't talk brands, but I can offer my few tidbits of suggestions:

    1) make sure it's large enough for Turkey and mashed potatoes if you ever want to host Thanksgiving.

    2) make sure you can get the burners off nice and easy for cleanup purposes.

    3) ice makers are nice, but the filters they require for the water can be crazy expensive.

    4) make sure you can fit the comforter in the washer AND the dryer b/c there will be throw-up infused comforters that need to be washed when your children have "big people" beds.

    Have fun!!!!

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  19. I'm boring (and cheap) but I've been really happy with my plain, old school Kenmore top-loading W&D. We got the set three years ago, for about $300 apiece, and they are just workhorses (we cloth diapered our baby, so lots of filthy laundry). I know front loaders are all the rage now, but I wasn't interested in shelling out $2000+ for a W&D set.

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  20. Just be careful of the stainless steel stuff with a baby . .. because it scratches like CRAZY. Though now they have some stainless-steel looking stuff that doesn't scratch as much. My friend's kid thought it was fun to "draw" all over hers with a ballpoint pen that didn't have ink in it . . . and while there was no ink left behind the fridge was . . . TOAST.

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  21. In-store customer service at Sears in Austin is seriously lacking. We had much better experiences at Best Buy and Lowe's. I bought a Whirlpool Cabrio HE washer & dryer at Lowe's last week (Earth Day sale!). I am loving it so far. It is a high-efficiency top-loader. I looked at the front-loaders and wasn't really into it. I'm tall and I don't want to stoop down to do laundry, and I don't want to pay an extra $200/each for "risers" that bring the washer & dryer up to my level. Good luck with your purchases.

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  22. We are Sears devotees but I hear that Texans love Fry's (Frys? Fries?).

    DC is non-chattel (and non-state) so we had to leave our brand new appliances behind (boo hoo!!!). We loved them. When we moved to [current chattel state], we purchased a washer/dryer from Lowes and we call Sears for service (best of both worlds!). We got the following:
    GE®
    3.8 IEC Cu. Ft. King-Size Capacity Frontload Washer (Color: White) ENERGY STAR®

    Item #: 212933
    Model: WCVH6400JWW

    AND

    GE®
    7.0 Cu. Ft. Super Capacity Electric Dryer (Color: White)

    Item #: 213978
    Model: DCVH640EJWW


    We have had them for three years now with no problems whatsoever and we do a lot of laundry with an active preschooler and my husband's grimy work clothes. They are low-water and quick-dry machines, which save us energy. The washer also does great cold washes.

    We also have a new fridge, oven and dishwasher, but nothing spectacular. You are probably looking for something more high-end. We splurged on the washer/dryer and went more mid-range on the other appliances.

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  23. P.S. I always leave the washer door ajar between cycles to avoid mildew! I also wipe the inside down with a vinegar/water spray occasionally.

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  24. I think you were asking about front loaders. Anyway, we have a front-loading Kenmore washer and dryer. I love them. The washer is way more energy efficient, and uses less water. I think the clothes get cleaner, too. No problems with leaking or smells. We leave the washer door slighly ajar to keep air flowing.

    Even though the front loaders use less water, the water is cycled through and replaced more often, so your clothes don't sit in dirty water like they do in top loaders. That was my complaint about our old top-loader. When we had really dirty clothes from backpacking, I would open up the lid and notice that the water was gross and dirty during the washing. Even after, the clothes never seemed fully clean. With the front-loader, no problems.

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  25. Ha, excellent catch Anon - I definitely meant front-loaders. It's fixed.

    Thanks for all the advice and opinions so far!

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  26. We love, love, love our refrigerator. It's a french door style with the bottom freezer. It is so nice to have to only open part of it because I know that the milk and the water are always on the right side, etc. We have tons of room, and are not having to stoop to look into the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to see what is hiding back there. Plus it has a great big wide drawer that is perfect for storing a salad bowl or appetizer tray before a party, or pizza boxes full of leftovers.

    We got ours at a Sears appliance outlet - you might look to see if there are any near you. It had 2 scratches, but they were both on the side that in our house would be against the cabinets, and are not large enough to notice as it is.

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  27. I don't know how much of a concern money is, but when my hubby and I got married we went to a "dent and ding" shop in Austin...We got a brand new looking washer and dryer for incredibly cheap. The dryer has a teeny scratch on the side of it and otherwise they're fine! I know they sell refrigerators there too. If that interests you, the store is called "Giant Appliances"...I can get you directions if you need them! :)

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  28. We got all "stainless look" after seeing my mother-in-law's brand new stainless appliances with my nephew's fingerprints all over it. Some brands say their stainless is "finger print resistant" but I don't buy it, and their store models don't convince me one bit. We love our Fridgidaire range/stove/microwave and dishwasher, but I'm not sure 10 months is really long enough to tell. I'm going to email you my password to consumer reports online. Too much information there to pass up!

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  29. I highly recommend joining Consumer Reports online and looking up recommendations-- it's under $10/month and you can sign up, do your research, and cancel. Well worth it.

    I did this and purchased a Kenmore front loader and a non-matching Whirlpool dryer (it was better rated *and* cheaper, and I don't care if they match, even if it drives my mother crazy). I love both like pie.

    I've never had a problem with leaking or mustiness, but I also got a piece of advice that you shouldn't close the door of the washer after washing; leave it ajar so the washer dries out a bit. I've done this and it apparently works. (I see someone else above does the same thing.) I also periodically run a bleach cleaning cycle.

    For what it's worth, I've heard horror stories about Frigidaire refrigerators. I have a completely non-fancy GE that works just fine.

    Good luck!

    True

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  30. You might be interested in this story:

    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080428/COL04/804280375/1081

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  31. I bought all GE appliances. I love my GE Profile Stainless French Door (2 top doors) fridge with freezer on the bottom. I also had the filtered water feature added but it is on the inside so no issue with toddlers playing in it. What sort of oven; slide in, drop in? There is a big difference so make sure you know what type of 'hole' is there. I just bought basic GE Profile washer and dryer because they had a rebate offer . . . the more you buy the more you save. It is going on right now if you check their website.

    http://products.geappliances.com/ApplProducts/Dispatcher?REQUEST=REBATECATEGORIES&PROGRAM=16&SITEID=GEA

    I don't know of a place in Austin . . . I am just north of you but the place I used was a mom & pop shop with great customer service. I am sure there is one in Austin; have you asked your relator?

    Plus the warranty has been good and they are pretty quick getting out to service once you call or schedule online. I bought the extended warranty and it has paid for itself by then coming out two times. Good Luck!

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  32. If you buy a side by side fridge with ice/water on the door, make sure the ice & water dispenser has a lock. I have a Whirlpool Gold and it has a dispenser lock and unlock button. Great for 2 small kids. We also have the Sears Kenmore Elite front loading washer/dryer - the mildew problem is on the seal - cleans easily and stays away if you leave the door open when not in use. Wouldn't trade mine for anything - saves on water and detergent and cuts drying time in half.

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  33. Get the freezer on the bottom, you will not be sorry. No bending to get to lower shelves. You use the fridge all the time, it should be on the top. Ours was from Sears.

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  34. Stainless steel SUCKS TO CLEAN and is impossible to KEEP CLEAN, so consider this when making your purchases, especially since there will be little fingers to leave lots of little marks all over your shiny new appliances.

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  35. LonghornBlonde5/1/08, 7:49 PM

    not sure exactly what your timeline actually is, but Texas is having a sales tax holiday for EnergyStar appliances over Memorial Day. Details here: http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/taxpubs/tx98_836/

    and we have a front load washer and matching dryer; they are the Whirlpool Duet. we got them from Conn's (a regional chain) and have been happy with the W&D. Another option is the locally owned AA Appliances, which is on Burnet around 45th.

    We do leave the door ajar on the washer after the last load for a few hours but haven't had a musty/moldy problem. One thing to note is that they perform best with a different detergent (marked HE) and you need less. Front load machines use less water and that's one reason the clothes come out drier so the dryer also can dry them more quickly (and helps keep the washer from "getting ahead" of the dryer).

    our main fridge is a side x side and if we didn't have a top/bottom fridge and a chest freezer in the garage the narrowness of each compartment would bother me. But I can use those to store additional gallons of milk, keep the beer/soda/juice cold, and stash the frozen foods. I don't eat frozen pizza often but I've heard they're nearly impossible to store in a side x side. if you want one with the ice/water dispenser, my friend's water dispenser doesn't have a Lock button and her toddler has discovered that he can get water from it; her fridge is older so maybe they no longer make them without that, but just a possible pitfall. Oh, and if fridge art is important to you, make sure the SS appliance you get is magnetic since not all are.

    one thing I dislike about my oven is that it's all digital display. This is fine for setting the temp, which changes in 5-degree increments, but I *hate* the timer. You adjust the time by single minutes and there is no fast advance. Since a lot of cooking/baking times seem to be in the 20-40 minute range this is a real drag (you can either count up or count down from an hour, but it's still a PITA). There's a cheap solution to this (we have a separate timer), but I would caution you to think through the functionality of how you use each appliance.

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  36. THere's an article about dishwashers in this month's Cooking Light. I had no idea how high-tech they've gotten!

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