A stacked front-load washer/dryer is a great space-saver – particularly in a small home or condominium. The problem with a stacked unit does become apparent pretty soon when one of the units ultimately breaks down.
Some repair companies will not work on stacked units or will charge extra to send two service people to your home. Yet others will require that you unstack and re-stack the units yourself.
If a stacked washer or dryer cannot be repaired, replacing one out of the two units would seem straightforward. However, more often than not, the particular model is no longer in production. Getting a similar model from the same manufacturer does not guarantee it is backwards compatible stacking-wise.
Even if you find a unit that is compatible your headaches have just begun…
Most appliance companies like Sears, Best Buy, HHGregg and Home Depot will not touch stacked units that are not deemed “compatible”. Even if you pre-clear that the new model should be compatible with Sears or Home Depot when you order, the installer may refuse to stack at the time of delivery when seeing the old units. For liability reasons the installer may choose to not re-stack mismatched units. If, due to some rare alignment of the stars they agree to stack they will want a new stacking kit to be ordered.
Some companies will not re-stack units at all. They will only install the stacked units if you purchase both units at the same time.
So what to do? To replace one mismatched unit and take advantage of haul away worst case you would need to; a) unstack the broken unit yourself, b) get the new stackable unit delivered c) make sure you have the correct stacking kit, it it exisits d) restack the unit yourself. Re-stacking the unit for your own home this may not be a big deal. If you are a landlord and this is your rental there is another factor to worry about.
If you are a landlord, imagine this: after some time the new dryer you (or a handyman you hired) stacked on top of the old washer works itself loose and falls on your tenant or their child or their dog. Whose fault would that be? I would say good luck explaining to the jury that you decided it should be fine and safe to put the 100lb “dryer deathtrap” on top of the washer even though both Sears and the installer said it wasn’t safe…
Moral of the story? Only buy stacked units if you really need the space. Be prepared to replace both units when one of them ultimately breaks 2-10 years down the road. The $600 repair may be worth it even if you could replace the unit for that amount. Consider a unitized washer/dryer combo at about $1200-$1400 instead.
(and yes, I run into this issue over and over again with stacked units in homes we manage…)