OT Front-Load Washer Woes

I know it's off topic, but nobody seems to be talking about woodworking much anyway.
About a year ago, SWMBO and I bought a new front-load washer-dryer pair from Frigidaire, manufactured by Electrolux. We were highly impressed. Quiet, and the washer spun the clothes so dry that the dryer didn't run nearly as much. Congratulated ourselves on the wisdom of our purchase.
About a month ago, SWMBO began to complain about mildew in the bellows type door gasket. Tried cleaning it with bleach, but it wasn't long until the problem was back. Did some research on the net. It seems the problem is almost universal among front-load machines.
I called the manufacturer to find out what their fix is. They were very polite and helpful. Offered to send me a new door bellows at no charge. Is this something I can replace myself?? Oh yes, you don't need anything but a screwdriver. Instructions are in the package. But I don't want to replace a door bellows every year, how do I prevent the problem? Keep the door open between washes. We were already doing that religously. Then there's a product specially developed to clean the soap residue that's causing the problem. Just put some in once a month. I ordered about a 3-year supply. That was Monday.
Wednesday, two packages showed up at my door from Electrolux. I'm pleased. So, I set about to install the door bellows. I should say here that I'm fairly mechanically inclined. I change my own oil, install brake pads, change a timing belt, adjust valves. I've even rebuilt an engine or two. I didn't feel intimidated by the prospect of changing a door gasket.
The page and half of instructions say it's not even necessary to take the front off the machine. Just remove the circular springs that are holding the bellows in place. Yank the old one out, stretch the new one over the retaining lips. Replace the old springs with new ones they helpfully provided and you're done.
If you take a car tire off the rim and replace it with a new one while the rim is still installed in the wheel well, then you'll have a pretty good idea of what this exercise is like. I decided pretty quick the front panel had to come off.
OK, here's 4 screws holding it on at the bottom, so the screws at the top must be under the plastic control panel. It should just pop off with a little force right? Wrong. I managed to figure out it wasn't coming before I broke anything. I should have known, if you want to take the front off, start at the back! Two screws at the back secure the top panel which slides under the lip of the plastic control panel on the front. After the top is removed, then you can access the screws that hold the control panel, which hides the screws that hold the front in place. Whew.
OK, now all I've got to do is stretch the gasket over the retaining lip on the washer drum. Not too bad, just tedious. Then there's an endless coil spring that must be stretched around the entire circumference of the washer drum to hold the gasket in place. I expected trouble here, so I brought in my 15-year old boy to help. It required all the strength both of us had to stretch this spring over the lip. We had three scredrivers in concert prying the thing around the circle. When you get one part on, the other part jumps out of the groove. I had visions of the spring sending a screwdriver into somebody's head. My arms are still trembling from the effort.
We finally got the whole thing back together and fired the machine up. It seems to work and we don't see any leaks. And it only took 3 hours!
I'm not looking for answers, I just needed to vent.
DonkeyHody "The best things in life . . . aren't things."
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On Wed, 14 May 2008 19:45:45 -0700, DonkeyHody wrote:

I had the same mildew problem on our front load. We were in warranty so the repair guy came out and replaced the gasket. I looked the job over and figured I had better things to do. The fix seems to be leaving the door open. I know you tried that, but it does seem to work for us. We wipe the gasket down with bleach once in a while and run a cup full of bleach in an empty load monthly. The mildew problem is gone. Of course we live in the southwest where things dry out quickly. YMMV if you live in a wetter climate. D. G. Adams
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wrote:

Five years with a Whirlpool Duet and although we leave the front door slightly open (no more than an inch or two), that is the sole concession to any mildew prevention regimen. No bleach, no special cycles, no wipe-downs. We've not had any problem whatsoever.
Humid? Florida?
--
LRod

Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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I suspect that the more often you use the machine the less likely the problem will present itself. We looked a these type washers 5 or 6 years ago and even then there were complaints about the "smell". We had a salesman that indicated that daily to every day use would combat that problem. We passed and went for the Calypso. Shoulda gone with the front load and risked the stink. After 3 years I negotiated a swap out with Sears for them to take their Kenmore Calypso back with $150 and get their best non-Calypso installed.
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4 years ago. The we were told that leaving the door open would hekp. It did. Period.

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RE: Subject:
Get a top loader and the problem goes away.
Lew
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Well, considering that heat rises and top loaders don't have this problem, then the solution is obvious. Some type of air flow needs to be adapted to the front load washer type until all heat is dissipated.
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On Thu, 15 May 2008 23:27:54 GMT, "Lew Hodgett"

immediately after the clothes were removed. Especially after doing dog laundry. Stinky and it is not dog stink. I removed the agitator once and dug some nasty furballs out. Slime and moldy smelling crud. I really needed to remove the drum but I could not get the spud nut off. I dug and pulled all the hair and scum out I could and washed a few times empty with vinegar wash and hot water. That helped for a while.
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Yes, since the door is water tight, it is important to leave the door open between uses to enable the washer to dry out when not used. Our washer, an LG, has a sterilizing cycle that it recommends being used every so often without clothes nor detergent, I can only assume that it is intended to clean out the mould and/or mildew from washer, or to help prevent it from building up.

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EXT coughed up some electrons that declared:

I'm a Brit and we use nothing but front loaders (people like them under kitchen worktops and so forth, plus our houses are comparatively tiny so accommodating a top loader is harder).
To the OP:
I agree with EXT's point above, amongst others. The correct way to treat a front loader is:
1) Leave the door ajar most of the time, as previously mentioned - makes a big difference;
2) As above, use a boil wash (95C/200-whatever F) once in a while (boil your towels or something if you don't want to "waste" this cycle)
3) If all else fails, a bit of hypochlorite bleach doesn't do any harm once in a while but don't over do it or it may weaken the rubber components.
I suppose the problem may be worsened if in a very humid climate, but England's not known for being bone dry. If 1-3 above don't solve the problem, a wipe round the rubber with a rag after each wash might help - particularly try to remove the puddle of water that collects at the bottom of the door seal. I recommend cleaning out the drain filter regularly too, if your machine has one.
HTH
Cheers, Tim
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Thanks to all for the advice and encouragement. We ALWAYS leave the door open between uses and the machine is used almost every day. But the relative humidity hovers around 50% in our house, even in winter. We'll use the cleaning product and try to wipe out the standing water in the door seal. I'm in a much better mood about the whole thing today and I even recommended a front load washer to a friend at work this morning.
Thanks again,
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