Shop Products
Houzz Logo Print

Whirlpool Duet failure - advice needed

10 years ago

My Whirlpool Duet washer (WFW9151) has begun ripping up clothes at 2 years old. Actually, it left small holes in maybe 2-3 pieces of clothing over the first two years, but those were so widely spaced and minor that I let it go. Over the past month, the problem worsened so that it is now ripping up one piece of clothing every third wash or so. But the odd thing is that the loads where a piece of clothing is ripped also finish with a large amount of powdery gray material deposited in mounds sticking to the rubber seal. It looks and feels like pulverized rubber, same gray color as the seal. The visible parts of the seal look fine (except for the mold stains, which have appeared despite the fact that I always leave the door open between loads...least of my worries at this point!).

I called Whirlpool yesterday. At first the customer service person said she'd never heard of the problem. Then, after a long hold while she consulted her colleagues, she came back and said it was a known problem with the door glass, which would have to be replaced. She said that Whirlpool would cover the parts, and I'd have to pay for labor. Then she put me on hold again to make the appointment. When she finally came back, it was to tell me that the service company in my area, A&E, declined to do the repair. She said she would search for another service person and get back to me. That was Friday morning; haven't heard anything since and I don't expect to now until sometime next week, given the holiday weekend. But I have heard that A&E is all we have in our area for appliance service....

Has anyone heard of this problem? Is it a likely reasonable solution? The only reason I can think for A&E to refuse to do it is that it isn't a successful repair strategy, and they don't want to be blamed when it fails again.

I don't know how best to proceed, though I also don't know what options I might have. This is my first appliance failure, and almost my first appliance repair! (My previous washer, a sturdy and reliable Frigidaire front loader, had one very minor repair during its 12 years with us.)
Very grateful for any advice!

Comments (11)

  • 10 years ago

    I'm not figuring how anything related to the door glass would cause the bellows to abrade. The newest Duet I've seen is my aunt's which dates to Oct 2012. The clearance between the bellows and rim of the drum is tighter than I'd observed on an older unit ... so IMO contact between the drum and bellows is more likely to occur than any issue related to the glass but there may be something happening of which I haven't heard. Maybe the shape of the glass has been changed to help push clothing away from contact with the bellows.

  • 10 years ago

    Thanks! I was thinking it must be something like that. My guess is that the shape of the glass causes a piece of clothing to sometimes work its way down into the gap around the drum, where it catches and tears. Maybe while it's caught, the drum is tugged out of alignment and a hidden piece of rubber comes into contact with whatever sharp piece the clothing is caught on, and that causes the abrasion. I can't see anything wrong that's visible. By the end of the wash cycle, the ripped piece of clothing has always been tumbled back into the load and not near the gap, so my scenario is just a guess.

  • 10 years ago

    When the Duet was first released in Germany - some ten years ago - the same problem became apparent. Ever since, the door glass had been changed and is much deeper than the US version. I guess, Whirlpool never introduced the deeper glass because it would take away like .1 cu.ft. capacity...

    If you enter your model number on, it'll actually say that the door glass is being substituted by an updated version. Replacing it is pretty simple.

    Here's an older European Duet.


  • 10 years ago

    That's good info, thanks! Since Whirlpool said they'd supply the part (only $43 at SearsPartsDirect anyway), maybe I can do the replacement myself, since A&E won't. But that still leaves whatever rubber part has been pulverized into powder. Though I can't see the damage, it's not minor and no doubt a critical part of the water seal... : (
    Maybe if I replace the glass then I can get A&E out on a service call. I'm just worried I'll call them out for $130 minimum charge, just to find out that my $649 washer needs $549 in repairs.

  • 10 years ago

    You can replace the door seal also. There are videos on you tube that show how it is done.

  • 10 years ago

    Thought I'd post the conclusion to this story.
    I was able to schedule the A&E repair people directly.
    The A&E guy recognized the problem and for $250 he replaced the seal for me and agreed that we should replace the glass ourselves, since we could get it affordably and it's an easy fix. My husband could have replaced the seal, but it took the repair guy quite awhile; he had to take off several cover plates and use his specialized tools, so I was happier to have him do it (in a manner of speaking).
    We ordered the new glass from Sears Parts Direct and installed it easily. We also had to clean the pulverized rubber from the filter and vacuum it out from the drum (where it collected down the holes).
    The washer works acceptably again; the seal also appears to have been reengineered so there is much less of a space for socks etc. to collect. (I noticed that it's even tighter on the newest models.)
    So I guess my $649 washer was actually a $900 washer...oh well!
    No help in the end from Whirlpool. Each day when I called they reminded me that they had '36-48 business hours' to respond. (Took me awhile to get what '48 business hours' really meant...yes...48 hours their business is open, whatever that is. Up to about 6 business days, I guess.) A couple of days after we repaired the washer, they finally said they were ready to make a repair appointment for me. They would cover the parts and I would be responsible for labor, with a minimum charge of $200. Had I been more patient, perhaps I could have saved myself $50 ... to repair what was their design flaw!?! It's odd to me that they would have so little interest in protecting their company's good reputation, but I suppose they've done market research to support this approach. Too bad!

  • 9 years ago

    What was the part number for the straight glass? I can't find it to order, the sears direct one the guy tells me is the slanted glass.

  • 8 years ago

    Hi, It took some digging here and elsewhere, but the solution to this problem is to replace: 1. The bellows for your particular washer (mine was part #w10290499 - look yours up with your model #) and 2. the re-designed inner door glass - part number #W10388315 or #8540428 which are identical and the same for all washers - which prevents clothes from sliding into the gap between bellow and tub. I bought both on Amazon for about $150 and you can even buy the glass used. There are excellent videos on-line (google it) and installation of both glass and bellows is pretty easy if you can use a screwdriver.

  • 5 years ago

    Did your washer always do this? Since new?

  • 3 years ago

    I bought mine in Oct 2012. It did well for about 3 years then slowly past would be completely ripped off, torn, somewhat burnt looking, shredded. 3 years ago I started buying and using xxx large garment laundry bags. They'll tear them before my clothes. But what a PIA! Everything must go in a bag or you will take the gamble of ruining your brand new sheets, your awesome beer tshirt you got in a faraway country, or your uniform for work. Now it's been 8 years. Sucks! I'm going back to top loader. I was told at Albert Lee, that lifespan is 8 to 12 years. So frustrating.