Amana ALW780QA Washing Machine

4 ratings (4 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating: Very Good
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The Washer's Tale

Jul 10, 2002 (Updated Jan 28, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Very Good

  • Ease of Use:
  • Durability:
  • Ease of Cleaning:
  • Style:

Pros:Capacity, it's quiet.

Cons:Must use a laundry bag for small items; essential belt prone to breakage.

The Bottom Line: Amana ALW780QA: after only 4 years, reliability is an issue.

UPDATE (01/27/04): The same stupid belt on this washer just broke – again – this past weekend. The machine only has a three-year warranty, so repairs (which could not be concluded any earlier than 4 days after I reported the break to Amana) will cost us roughly $300, including parts and labor.

This, for a “commercial quality” machine I use once a week for 2-3 loads and never, never – especially after the earlier belt issue – overload. And no more of those pesky baby socks get caught, either, as I bag all small items before loading them. I’d hate to be the commercial establishment relying on this machine to take care of my business. The belt that drives the agitator is completely unreliable and prone to breakage every couple of years, absolutely necessitating a service call and professional visit as it cannot be replaced and reattached without dealing directly with the motor.

Our repair list: rubber belt, main bearing, hub seal assembly, idler assembly. All with just average, if not gentle, use.

So, you’re looking at another $300 every two-three years just to keep the machine running. Forget it. If you’re looking for a long term washing machine, look elsewhere. GE and Kenmore both make some nice, reasonably comparable, appliances.

Read on to see the original review!

…Go get some water, / And wash this filthy witness from your hand. 1

Just a little over 3 years ago, while I was pregnant with our first child, my husband and I decided that we should purchase a new washing machine. The one we had worked just fine, but it was loud, small, and tended to wobble. As we were about to add another loud, small, wobbly thing to our household (the anticipated baby), I wanted to both minimize the decibel level, and increase our washing capacity with a reliable appliance for as reasonable a price as we could manage. After doing much shopping, checking out Kenmore, Hotpoint, Maytag, and Whirlpool, we finally settled on the Amana ALW780QA Softsound Commercial Quality Washer.

Why The Amana ALW780QA?
What a deal of brine / Hath wash’d thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline 2

They had the best combination of features and specifications we wanted for the price we could afford, and we knew them to be a reputable company. Primarily, I wanted large capacity top loading machine, and this character’s 3.3 cubic foot stainless steel tub was the largest on the market at the time. The size alone easily cut the number of loads I did per week in half. Further, I needed both a Delicate and Hand Wash cycle that would clean our more fragile clothes without shredding them. Cycle selections include Regular, Perma Press/Knits, Delicate, Hand Wash, and Soak, with a toggle switch for an Extra Rinse option (for particularly messy loads – like, say, toddler spew – or for those with detergent allergies). I also wanted the ability to control the water level in the machine, so we really looked for an appliance with variable water level control. It seems self-evident, but large loads need more water, while small loads require less – some manufacturers still haven’t grasped this concept. We try to control our water consumption and use just what we need, and I wanted a washing machine that would fit in with our mindset. The Amana ALW780QA had just come on the market in the last couple of weeks, and it was everything we wanted and more, so we purchased without hesitation.

Our Experience
She hath no tongue to call, nor hands to wash; / And so let's leave her to her silent walks. 3

The Good:I cannot say it enough, I love the super-large capacity of this machine! We went from 6 loads a week for two people, to 2-3 loads a week for 3 people, depending on the weather and the number of times we changed the baby’s clothes. Even at our peak usage, when our son was newly born and peeing or spitting up on everything, I managed to keep it to 7-8 loads a week. And it’s quiet! I could actually run the machine during naptime or at night without waking the entire household. The Delicate and Hand Wash cycles are a miracle – easy enough on our finer clothes and sweaters that I’ve been able to completely give up washing bits and pieces in our tub, saving my knees and back from the crippling effects of wash day. The Automatic Balance system means no more hungry, wobbly washing machine roaming my hallways, stalking me. If I don’t manage to get just the right ratio of jeans to towels, or whatever, the machine takes care of it for me, and it stays where I put it to do that! I really, really like this machine. It is a vast improvement over the dinosaur my husband and I had during the first years of our marriage.

The Indifferent: I have to periodically wash the fabric softener dispenser or it clogs and refuses to drain. I’d rather not do this. Also, the instructions state that you shouldn’t add laundry to a load already in progress – at least not after the water finishes pouring into the tub, as this could interfere with normal operation. ??? Now, I know I shouldn’t go adding dirty laundry to partially clean laundry halfway through the cycle, but why should raising a lid and tossing in the sock I found under my son’s bed interfere with normal operation? The instruction seems a little alarmist to me, but I’ve never chanced ignoring it.

The Bad: Only a few months after we purchased the washer, we noticed a burning rubber smell and a fine haze of smoke emanating from the laundry room. It was my beloved new machine, oozing the most atrocious odor and emitting this strange cree-ing sound from the depths of the tub. We called for service. A man came out the very next day (good) and told us that the tub had somehow gotten stuck and that a belt had burned out as a result. (It turns out one of our infant son’s baby socks had gotten caught between the tub and the bowl, causing the tub to stall and eventually breaking the belt. We have since learned to put tiny baby socks and other accoutrements into a mesh laundry bag.) He’d order the part from Amana and fix it as soon as it came in. We waited six weeks for this little bit of rubber (bad).

It turns out the model was so new that Amana hadn’t even made replacement pieces yet, much less shipped them to distributors, so we had to wait for the manufacturer to make us a replacement belt. I was extremely annoyed that Amana forced us to wait for them to make a new belt, rather than taking a belt out of an existing (but unpurchased) unit and sending that to us, but they said that was against their policy. We did eventually get the belt, and have had no problems with the washer since then, so here’s the lesson: Do not buy brand-spanking-new models from Amana. Wait for the product to age enough that distributors have replacement parts in stock. This should take about 2-3 months after the product is introduced to the market; after that period, I’d say you’re pretty safe.

Size and Energy Consumption
Stoop, then, and wash. How many ages hence / Shall this our lofty scene be acted over 4

No stooping here! At 43¼” H x 26⅞” W x 29½” D, our Amana ALW780QA nicely compliments my average (for a woman) height. Some very tall people – like that actor who played Lurch in the Addams Family movie, or most basketball players – may find a bit of a stoop still a necessity, but the majority of us should be very pleased with the distinct lack of bending over this machine requires.

Now, Amana could stand to improve the product in terms of energy efficiency. With an average use of 897 kilowatt hours a year, this model comes in at the high end of the efficiency spectrum (177kWh – 1298 kWh). Of course, this number is based on eight loads of clothes per week, and I haven’t often had to do more than three since our son finally grew into his diapers.

General Specifications
No more, I say! For that I have not wash'd / My nose that bled, or foil'd some debile wretch. 5

To sum up, we quite like our Amana ALW780QA and would happily buy another model. Though the belt breaking and replacing it was a royal pain, it’s the only serious problem we’ve had in the three years we’ve been using the machine. Energy efficiency could be improved, and having to wash the fabric softener thingy is inconvenient, but the washer’s large capacity and versatility mean fewer loads for me, and that means my efficiency as a busy wife, mother and person improves. I highly recommend the product to anyone interested in a large capacity, reliable washing machine!

Colors: Available in White (ALW780QAW) or Bisque (ALW780QAC)
Dimensions: 43¼” H x 26⅞” W x 29½” D
Electrics: 120v, 9.8A, 60Hz; UL Listed
Features: 3.3 Cu. Ft. Super Capacity Plus with Easy Access Opening
 Stainless Steel Tub................Two Speed Motor.......640 RPM Spin Speed
 Variable Water Levels.............Extra Rinse...............Handwash Cycle
 12 Cycle Selections...............Four Water Temperature Selections
 Bleach Dispenser...................Flex Vane Agitator with 210° Agitation Stroke
 Self-Cleaning Lint Filter...........Exclusive SteadySpin™ Balance System
 Sofsound™ Quiet Package......Self-Adjusting Rear Leveling Legs
Service: Call 1-800-843-0304

All quotes from William Shakespeare
1. Macbeth, Act II, Scene 2
2. Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 3
3. Titus Andronicus, Act II, Scene 4
4. Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1
5. Coriolanus, Act I, Scene 9

Recommend this product? No

Amount Paid (US$): Around $500

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