Thread Number: 71894  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
Washing Machines That Use Gas For Heating Water
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Post# 951192   8/1/2017 at 22:58 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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While common enough in Europe for both domestic and commercial use, outside of a few older units (Easy had a wringer washer one could equip with a gas heater, and of course some combo W&D machines no one bothered nor has since.

Seems to me in areas of the country where gas is favored over electric for heating say dryers, the same fuel would be useful in washing machines that self heated water. So why have American appliance makers largely avoided? Liability worries? Design issues?

Post# 951204 , Reply# 1   8/2/2017 at 03:51 by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

The impression we got from reading the experience of people here that had such machines is that the machines rusted much faster than the ones that used electric heat.

I also have the impression (uncorroborated) that the safety requirements for equipment like that got much more expensive to implement and/or fix. One wouldn't want an open flame in an area that also might have oil/grease exposed when the transmission leaks etc.

Most of the (admittedly very) old washers with gas heaters tended to be top-loading horizontal axis with all the mechanism on one side of the drum and the flame under the outer drum, a lot of the machines didn't even have an arrangement to connect to a chimney, for example. I even saw pictures (taken by friends/family) showing some truly old washers from around 1900's or so that used wood or coal fire under the outer drum to heat the wash water in European installations, apparently the women in the building would get together in the basement on laundry day, some would prep the clothes, some would build a fire and get the water going, the washer was completely manual, users would let it wash for a while, remove the clothes with tongs and put the next load in, while other people would start rinsing the load etc.

On one hand, I admire the fact (if true) that a dozen or so residents could all get together and help each other, many hands light work and all. It's the kind of community one tends to aspire to. On the other hand, the cynic in me finds it hard to believe things were so "peaceful" and I tend to think people swallowed a lot of stuff they didn't want to just to keep the "peace", because I've seen buildings where folks can hardly get it together enough to run their loads thru the washers and dryers without causing trouble like leaving loads way past the time the machines stop, or other stuff (like say, leaving a pen inside a pocket, thus causing trouble for the next users).

   -- Paulo.

Post# 951214 , Reply# 2   8/2/2017 at 05:11 by ozzie908 (Lincoln UK)        
Servis did a twin tub

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Which had gas heat it was available in the early 60's from the Gas shop. I have never seen one in the flesh but have found the odd picture I believe they were made for people who did not have the wiring capable of running the 3kw heater but who had a gas tap in the laundry from say the old wash boiler we had a lot of gas ones back in the day.


Post# 951221 , Reply# 3   8/2/2017 at 06:13 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

Why bother with a specific appliance with water heating capability when you had a 30 (40, 55, ...) gallon water heater 10 feet away using that same gas...and a nice knob on the bottom to raise the temperature. Believe one or another of the WH brands (AO Smith?) had Laundrymaster as the brand of their water heaters.

Post# 951224 , Reply# 4   8/2/2017 at 06:33 by mrb627 (Buford, GA)        

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with modern laundry rooms inside the living space instead of in a utility room off the back of the house, ventilation would be an issue, I suppose...


Post# 951232 , Reply# 5   8/2/2017 at 07:35 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Don't Forget Home Dishwasehrs That Heated Water With Gas

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The Preway 180 Dishwasher

Post# 951233 , Reply# 6   8/2/2017 at 07:38 by henene4 (Germany)        

I don't recall ANY automatic on the EU market sold for household use that ever used gas for heating. None.

There were verry verry few gas dryers with a verry short revival in the early 2000s.

Further gas heating is kind of problematic to construct. You can't just place a burner under the tub; that space is usually taken up by the motor.

On modern industrial machines, they usually use some sort of recirculation to move the heating system away from other parts in the machine. At least that is what Miele does AFAIK.

AFAIK combos just used their dryer air stream or radiant elements as heating. The fans were running non-stop anyways for the most part.

Post# 951235 , Reply# 7   8/2/2017 at 07:48 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        
Gas dishwashers

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I wish I still had the ad from the 1959 BH&G 'Kitchen Ideas' magazine because in it was an ad or a feature kitchen which showed a Whirlpool gas dishwasher.  I have never seen another ad for one and I have a sneaky suspicion that the one I saw in the ad was a prototype that never really went into production....  Other than the Preway that John mentioned, I can't think of anyone else who actually made a gas dishwasher.  

Post# 951238 , Reply# 8   8/2/2017 at 08:08 by henene4 (Germany)        
Nother thought just jumped into mind

Burning gas produces significant amounts of H2O. Mixing extremly high temperatures, steam and oxygen can cause rapid corosion. Thus proper venting would be verry important.

Post# 951242 , Reply# 9   8/2/2017 at 08:16 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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I can't remember a European washer either that was heated with gas. But I'm only familiar with the northern European market. Perhaps in other parts of Europe some manufacturer tried it. Overhere there was less need for such a machine I suppose with 220V - 240V as the standard voltage.

Post# 951247 , Reply# 10   8/2/2017 at 08:31 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

 I think American washer manufacturers were sort of tuned in with central hot water supplies as a given when designing modern appliances. If you will remember, CU threw a wet blanket on the idea of combos heating water, stating that while it might be a temporary, expensive solution to a shortage of hot water (perhaps because so many of the units with supplemental water heating were doing it with electricity) the better thing to do was to increase the supply of domestic hot water which was probably heated with gas. They did not put two and two together and realize the economy of point of use water heating in the machine nor did they stop and think that the two machines with the best washing ability were the KM and WP which held the timer from advancing until the water was at the right temperature. Unfortunately, the gas burner cone in these machines was located against the sump of the outer tub so there was a lot of water heating by conduction through the porcelain and that same heat was against the porcelain during the dry cycle with no water on the other side of it which resulted in the degradation of the porcelain which resulted in rust-through and the demise of the machine. Also, the gas combos were vented, which washers are not so they were set up to deal with the products of combustion which washers are not.


What I always did with my combos was wash and dry a load of colors first then, when the machine was hot from drying that load, wash a load requiring hot water which all of the hot porcelain kept hot.


I have thought of a mini recirculating heater on the scale of something like a hot tub heater with a pump moving water from the machine through the boiler and back to the washer but it would discharge the waste heat into the room which would not always be welcome. Integrating that with a washing machine's timer would present challenges and the liabilities of having something like this being controlled by the user presents far too many liabilities for any manufacturer.

Post# 951260 , Reply# 11   8/2/2017 at 10:03 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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"I don't recall ANY automatic on the EU market sold for household use that ever used gas for heating. None. "

Well then dearie hang onto your hat, because their obviously was at least one such machine. Made by Phillips for the French market.

Post# 951261 , Reply# 12   8/2/2017 at 10:09 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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There we have it! Great find! I remember seeing a picture of that model, but not with the text. Apparently that is indeed a machine heated with gas.

Post# 951265 , Reply# 13   8/2/2017 at 10:16 by keymatic (Surrey.U.K)        

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Hi Austin,

That Servis Twin Tub you are referring to was the Servis GasAire Mk31 - produced around 1964.


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Post# 951308 , Reply# 14   8/2/2017 at 15:41 by Whispermatic (Guildford)        
Gas heated Hoovermatic.

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Hi Laundress,
I have a Hoovermatic heated by gas that my family had in France. It is model 3301G based on the Hoovermatic 3301L available in Europe and is the same except for the heating system installation.
I posted about it last year. (link below) In fact I've just started the restoration again as I have been distracted by other machines and cars. My family used it in the kitchen - there was a gas tap on the wall that the rubber pipe was simply pushed onto. Seemed perfectly normal to me, even though I was given the fear of death (literally) if I should be caught touching that tap. Which of course made me want to...
Oddly enough we also had the standard 3301L too which I still have. Later on that was replaced with the late 1970s one with orange details but that too was electrically heated. My grandmother said the 3301G was the best machine she ever owned. Certainly when it runs it is quieter than the newer ones and seems incredibly well made. Not sure why we had both types of the same machine! Apologies to those who replied to my original post to whom I didn't answer - I've only just found your replies when I copied the post! I will post the photographs of the heating system in the next few days when I find the card they are on.
Be seeing you,

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