Your Place: Bacteria could cause smelly washer

Posted: August 31, 2013

Question: The last few weeks, when I do a load of laundry, the water that is discharged smells like rotten eggs. I don't think the odor is coming up from the drain, because that doesn't smell.

I have always cleaned the machine according to the recommendations, but when I do this now, it doesn't help. Subsequent loads don't trigger this smell, just the first load.

Do I need a plumber or repairman?

Answer: You didn't say whether you have a front loader or a top loader.

If it is a front loader, I'd guess that the smell might be coming from built-up bacteria around the sealing. You may have to clean it after the last load each time, so there is no buildup.

We have a Bosch front loader on which we spent more than twice the cost of a top-loader, and have not been pleased with it.

We do leave the door open when it isn't in use, to ensure that the interior, as well as the door boot seal, dries out each time.

I think the biggest problem we are having with it, however, is common to all front-loading washing machines.

Periodically, my wife notices that some of her clothes are stained after washing. She runs the machine empty using Affresh washer cleaner. That seems to solve the problem until the next time.

I'd still call a plumber to check the drain. It may not be the source of the odor, but you never know.

Q: We have a two-story home with two air conditioners. They are Trane units, replaced within the last five to 10 years.

We started a yearly checkup program for the air-conditioning three years ago.

The business comes in the spring and flushes out the system, and replaces one of the filters upstairs at a cost of about $49 per filter.

I usually change out the filter downstairs almost monthly. If the freon needs replacement, they do that.

They are here about an hour. The yearly cost is $349 for checking the two. If a part needs replacement, they give us a 15 percent discount on the part.

We are in our late 60s, and live in hot, humid Louisiana.

Is this plan necessary, or should we do without the yearly checkup?

A: Having spent three, four-day November weekends on business in New Orleans since 1997, I know how important air-conditioning is to you folks, and that you make use of it much longer every year than we do here in Philadelphia.

The fact that you need two units to keep your two-story house comfortable in the heat and humidity is proof of the need to keep them operating efficiently. Their workload is heavy and they will not last long without regular, proper maintenance. So you need to have your units looked at by a professional annually.

Here in the Middle Atlantic, where we make more use of what Philadelphians call "heaters" but everyone else knows as furnaces, we have lists of companies that compete to provide such services.

I would suggest that you shop around for quality service at a reasonable price, because you are paying too much by any standard.

I lived in a house with an ancient furnace, converted to oil from coal. I contracted with my oil provider to clean the furnace each year for $75.

I popped into the basement once when it was being cleaned. The man was running a vacuum cleaner for noise, but actually was outside smoking.

I got a new oil company, and cleaned the furnace myself.

That's not for you. Hire a professional, but at a competitive price.


Questions? E-mail Alan J. Heavens at aheavens@phillynews.com or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.

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