Thread Number: 36939
Wash Tub Life Span?
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Post# 549417   10/14/2011 at 22:10 (4,604 days old) by whirlcool (Just North Of Houston, Texas)        

We have a 1993 Whirlpool TL machine. I noticed in the owners manual is said never to use harsh additives or vinegar in the washer because this will shorten the lifespan of the porcelain wash tub and cause increased wear on the clothes.

How do you tell if your wash tub is worn? I see a lot of people here have washers from the 50's and are those wash tubs causing excess wear on the clothing washed it them?

We do use vinegar in our rinses, but I don't see any difference to the wash tub. But then we only add the vinegar to the rinse cycle after the washer fills and begins agitation.

So how do you know if your porcelain wash tub needs attention or is worn out?

Post# 549419 , Reply# 1   10/14/2011 at 22:24 (4,604 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        

only time i ever saw any damaged washtub on a WP was on my '93 24"DD when i got it
-center post of the washtub was rusted out just under the nut and loose on the
shaft. The washer centerpost also had some deep rust "scabs"...A dump grab '97
roper provided replacement parts in perfect shape...

Post# 549421 , Reply# 2   10/14/2011 at 22:49 (4,604 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

launderess's profile picture
Sadly much of the damage to the a porcelain wash tub is going to be underneath between the two tubs. Unless you are willing to take apart/take out the tubs on a regular basis and inspect for rust and or other damage there isn't much you can do besides normal preventive measures.

Post# 549432 , Reply# 3   10/15/2011 at 00:06 (4,604 days old) by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        

arbilab's profile picture
You can soak your skin or your salad in vinegar so I just can't see it attacking porcelain unless their process was known to leave gaps like at the edges of holes. Which it probably does as I've seen not-that-old Whirlpools with rusted/corroded tubs. IOW they knew their product was JBA, just barely adequate.

On our old Westy slants, EVERYthing else on the machine would fail before the tub porcelain did. Those machines supported a family of 6 for years at a time with only a timer here, a spinclutch there, and one boot. I don't recall even a watervalve failing. Tub integrity just wasn't an issue.

I don't know of it being an issue with Maytags either. Or even Easy Spindriers. So what's the deal, Whirlpool? If you can't withstand diluted vinegar, what CAN you do?

Post# 549454 , Reply# 4   10/15/2011 at 05:53 (4,604 days old) by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan and Palm Springs, CA)        

jamiel's profile picture
Issue with vinegar and breakdown of porcelain is on the backside of the wash basket...the perforations are poked into the sheet of steel leaving the "points" from the piercing exposed on the backside. The basket is then enamelled, but only a thin coating sticks to the "points". It's generally OK with water/alkaline solutions (i.e. porcelain doesn't break down), but soaking and/or acidic solutions will break down the thin coats of porcelain, leading to rust spots and floating rust particles which are caught by the clothes.

Post# 549459 , Reply# 5   10/15/2011 at 06:55 (4,604 days old) by Kenmoreguy64 (Charlotte, NC)        
Worn porcelain

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I am not sure what vinegar would do to porcelain, but I have seen worn porcelain in a few KM & WP machines.

In my 1967 Kenmore 24-inch washer, the tub that KM included for this model was the entry level blue porcelain version. This blue tub had the least amount of protective coatings on it. I don't think this blue tub was used much longer, but the glassy surface is worn off, exposing metal in some places, which have rusted. If I were to ever use that washer, I will have to replace the basket. Better baskets with either the blue/gray speckles, or the all white porcelain, have thicker coatings.

In another example, my 1977 Kenmore 70 large capacity washer was used to wash mop heads at some sort of school or other public facility. A combination of the mop heads and the cleaning solution used didn't attack the agitator so much but they literally wore the top surface of the porcelain completely off BOTH the wash basket AND the outer tub. If you've ever had a chance to examine the old continuous cleaning ovens of the 1970s and 1980s (not sure when they went away), they were NOT smooth and shiny, they were rough and almost like fingernails on a chalkboard when sliding racks in and out. The 77's wash basket is exactly the same...where water and load touched the porcelain, there is no original surface left on the original tubs, leaving a rough, scratchy, very unfriendly surface behind, much like a dirt road as it would compare to a newly paved one.

Does that make any sense?

One final thought - if I understand correctly, many powdered detergents of the old one cup formulas of the 1960s thru 1990s used light sand as a carrier or base. I have often wondered why some machines have shinny, glossy porcelain baskets, and others not so much anymore. I've been figuring that heavy use of these "sandy" detergents simpy over time wore off the glass-like top coating. Am I off-base there?


Post# 549759 , Reply# 6   10/16/2011 at 10:52 (4,602 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        

combo52's profile picture

Any brand washers porcelain finish can be etched by certain combinations of chemicals that might come in contact with them. I have seen tubs in any brand washer you can name that had this problem. It basically stems from some type of misuse. Yes vinegar can etch porcelain as can many different acid cleaners and even urine from soiled diapers stored in the washer with out being washed promptly. The roughened surface can cause more wear as clothing is passing over it. There is no cure for this other than replacing the tub.

Post# 549769 , Reply# 7   10/16/2011 at 12:02 (4,602 days old) by whirlcool (Just North Of Houston, Texas)        

Could a wash tub be ressurected by having it powder coated? Or maybe painted with an epoxy type of paint?

Yes, that is very clear. Thanks for the explanation.

Post# 549951 , Reply# 8   10/17/2011 at 08:45 (4,602 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

One of the fastest ways to spot wear to the porcelain is to leave a load of white clothes in the washer for a few hours after the cycle is finished. Where the fabrics rest against the drain holes, they will develop little orange circles because inside the holes is where the coating is thinnest.

Yes, porcelain can be damaged by acids. Poecelain is basically glass fused to metal and acid will eat up glass under the right conditions.

Post# 551328 , Reply# 9   10/22/2011 at 21:45 (4,596 days old) by wringersteve ()        

I'm thinking about the porcelain tub on my Maytag wringer here. It's in pristine condition, and obviously there are no drain holes, but I'm wondering if modern powder detergents and liquid chlorine bleach would do damage. Would a liquid detergent be gentler on porcelain? Would a cheap one-cup detergent like Trend do damage as well? I like my machine and want to keep it as nice as I can for as long as I can, but I don't want to be afraid to use it for its intended purpose either.

Post# 551344 , Reply# 10   10/23/2011 at 01:02 (4,596 days old) by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        

arbilab's profile picture
Detergents absolutely do not attack porcelain. Sodium hypochlorite on the other hand, attacks everything it can. Including cotton, if you didn't already know.

I no longer use bleach, don't even own any, it's too destructive and toxic. It can't attack SOLID porcelain like a toilet bowl. But COATED porcelain like washtubs, has microcracks and bleach CAN attack the underlying metal.

If you are preserving an antique coated porcelain tub, I would forego bleach.

Post# 551386 , Reply# 11   10/23/2011 at 10:50 (4,595 days old) by DirectDriveDave ()        

Wouldn't bleach only possibly cause damage if not diluted first? Our 21 year old wash tub has no damage on it.

Post# 551389 , Reply# 12   10/23/2011 at 11:27 (4,595 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        

combo52's profile picture

LCB will not hurt porcelain at all but will attack the underlying metal if it can get to it. Many may remember that Sears always said never to allow water with bleach to remain in there washers more than 30 minutes to prevent tub damage.

Post# 551412 , Reply# 13   10/23/2011 at 15:13 (4,595 days old) by wringersteve ()        
...for Combo52

Thanks for the info about LCB. Oxygen bleach won't hurt anything, right?

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