Week 2, 2018: Finding reliable, well-built appliances, more coverage coming soon

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 2, 2018

Q. Will you please consider reviewing other appliances? Less than two years ago I purchased all new appliances for my new kitchen. They were supposed to be quality, but I think all of them are cheaply made and difficult to operate. Frigidaire refrigerator handles are loose, freezer shelves fall out. LG stove touch controls are very difficult to operate. Kitchen Aid dishwasher racks are difficult to load, glasses fall over or into others.

-M.S., Bethel Park, PA

A. When I reviewed appliances in the past it was because they were new or novel, like the Panasonic Countertop Induction Oven. I don’t know when I will review a major appliance again, but due to reader demand appliances will be featured occasionally in the column now.

As I expected, the column featuring Speed Queen laundry equipment touched a nerve. I received quite a few emails about Speed Queen specifically and major appliances in general. The Speed Queen correspondence was overwhelmingly positive. Of the few critical emails, one reader had one and was not satisfied with its performance on delicates, saying the agitator does not swish enough, only two times per load. I ran a load of delicates to see for myself, and my own washer swished quite a few times before I got tired of watching it and moved on to other things. A few others suggested front load washer problems with smells and mold can be minimized by leaving the washer and detergent doors open, and by not using too much detergent.

The rest was people stating their intention to buy Speed Queen products, mail from other Speed Queen owners raving about their machines, and a lot of universally negative commentary about the appliance industry. One reader, J.F. of Golden Valley, MN, lamented that he ditched a 34-year-old Maytag pair simply because he thought they were old, and then had what he called, “three of the worst possible washing machine purchase experiences on the planet, with the exception of the infamous exploding Samsungs. I am running, not walking, to buy a new Speed Queen. Don’t even get me started about the new gas ranges.”

A few readers asked if it is possible to get other types of appliances with Speed Queen’s old-school quality, reliability and longevity. I did some research online, and spoke with repair personnel as well as longtime industry veteran Rick Voss of Voss Appliance in Pittsburgh. The general consensus is no, you can’t. I was also advised that the more electronics and complexity in the appliance, the more likely it will break and the more expensive it will be to fix. If longevity is what you are after, you may be better off repairing older, simpler appliances in a lot of instances.

Soon I may be able to say more myself. Within a day of moving into my new home I replaced the early 1980s GE kitchen appliances (which all still worked perfectly) as part of a kitchen remodeling project. I chose a Frigidaire Gallery range based on the look, feel and positive reviews, then added a side-by-side Frigidaire Gallery refrigerator so the stainless finishes would match exactly. Both have worked reliably for five years now, though the icemaker’s poor design often dumps ice into the freezer compartment. (How did that make it past product testing?)

I also bought a Bosch dishwasher that has been reliable, though I miss the perfect drying of a heating element and a food grinder so I don’t have a filter to clean.  These are minor quibbles, and Rick did complement the Bosch dishwashers as, “a solid product that has been out for a while.”

Keep those emails coming, and I look forward to providing more appliance coverage soon.

Questions? Send to donlindich@gmail.com.  Please include your city and state in your email.