Washer Repair Tips
The most catastrophic problem associated with washers is flooding, and that's the also the most obvious washing machine issue you'll come across.
Washing machines come in two basic types: the familiar top loading machine and front loading machines. Top loading washers are of two basic designs: the direct-drive machine made by Whirlpool (also sold by Sears under the Kenmore brand, but still made by Whirlpool) and the belt-driven machines made by everyone else, including the older Whirlpool machines.
Leaks From Your Washer
- Fill hoses not tight at either water supply or at the washer fill valve.
- Restriction in drain pipe causing pumped out soapy water to suds back over stand pipe where drain hose goes in. Verify by filling washer tub with water only (no soap) and advance timer to pumpout washer. If no leaks from this test, problem is with the drain pipe or from using too much soap.
- Tub water injection hose leaking. Most common in the Maytag washer. Water will gush out immediately when water enters the machine. Open front washer service panel and activate washer fill to verify.
- Pump leaking. Most common on older GE/Hotpoints and direct drive Whirlpool/Kenmores. Verify by filling tub with water then advancing timer to pumpout washer while observing pump.
- Tub leaking. Open washer service panel and fill tub with water. Look for signs of leakage all around tub, front and back. Maytags can leak from the tub center gasket, in which case both the seal and tub bearing should be replaced at the same time. Older belt-drive Whirlpool can develop rust holes in the tub which can be reliably repaired using the tub repair kit.
- Washer overfilling. Usually caused by a sediment-damaged water inlet fill valve. Valve cannot close itself when de-energized. Replace fill valve and install sediment filtration on household water supply. Most of the fill valves are 120v valves. The Maytag stack laundry with the electronic control uses a special 24vdc valve. All washing machine owners should install flood control on their washers.
- Restricted water inlet valve flow. Unique to the older GE/Hotpoint washers. Low water flow will case the water from the valve's discharge hose to run back up the hose by capillary action and down to the floor.
No or Sluggish Spin
- Defective lid switch. Gain access to lid switch and ohm test in open and closed position.
- Lid plunger not making contact with lid switch. Most common the Whirlpool/Kenmore washers. Use a pen to manually depress the lid switch (with the lid up). If washer spins, replace or repair plunger.
- Spin solenoid burned out or cut wires (older Whirlpool and Kenmores only). Ohm out solenoid (20-30 ohms). If OK, actuate solenoid with a test cord. Tug on wires supplying solenoid to ensure they are not cut.
- Worn or broken belt drive belt. Look for excessive glazing on the sides of the belt or cracks in the power side of the belt. On Maytags, replace the belt set if they look glazed or shiny on the sides even thought the belts may look OK otherwise. Belts on other brands will be more obviously bad.
- Bad timer contact. On older timers, it's sometimes possible to run an external jumper to replace the bad internal contacts. Usually, however, the entire timer must be replaced.
- Worn drive belt.
- Worn agitator dog cam assembly or drive spindle (Whirlpool/Kenmore dual action agitator). Remove agitator and/or disassemble (if the agitator is dual action) and inspect for wear debris and worn spindles.
- Bad internal timer contact. Locate bad contact and run external jumper or replace timer.
- Worn wig-wag plunger/lifter or transmission mode lever (belt-driven Whirlpool/Kenmores). Observe the action of the agitate solenoid when the machine is in the agitation part of the cycle. If the plunger/lifter slips off the transmission mode lever, replace either the plunger/lifter or the mode lever, as appropriate.
- Open lid switch. Maytags only. Other brands will still agitate with a bad lid switch.
- Pressure switch not sensing water level and switching from fill to agitate cycle. Check for pinched air tube, cracked or leaking air tube connection at the tub. Run continuity and function test on pressure switch.
No Agitate or Spin
- Broken or worn drive belts.
- Worn direct drive coupler (Whirlpool/Kenmore direct-drive machines).
- Defective motor. Install test cord on motor and energize. Alternative test: remove drive belt from motor pulley (or remove motor from direct drive coupler and energize spin cycle. If motor hums then clicks off, motor is bad.
- No power at washer electrical outlet. Test for 120 volts AC.
- Defective pump. For mechanical pumps, remove belt from pump pulley and turn pump pulley by hand in both directions. Pulley should turn freely. If not, replace pump. For electric pumps (new front-access GE washers), fill tub with water and energize the spin cycle. Pull drain hose and watch discharge stream. If stream fluctuates or is meager, replace electric pump.
- Worn drive belt. In this case, washer will not spin either (or will have a sluggish spin). See "No or Sluggish Spin".
- Clogged drain hose. Pull drain hose and watch discharge stream. A good discharge stream will have the same diameter as the hose itself. If less than this, check for obstructions in the drain hose.
Excessive Vibration In Washer or Shaking During Spin
- Washer not leveled properly. Check for play along the diagonal corners of the washer cabinet by applying downward pressure. If there is any play at all, the washer will shake during spin and the legs must be leveled.
- Washer located on a weakened wood floor. Place reinforcing pad on floor under washer.
- Worn damper pads (Maytag top loaders) or snubber pads (Whirlpool/Kenmore direct-drive machines).
Clothes Too Wet at End of Cycle
- Washer not spinning (although it still pumps out). Verify spin visually and, if appropriate, troubleshoot as a no spin complaint.
Spots on Clothes When Removed from Washing Machine
- Chemical reaction between fabric softener and detergent. Test by handwashing a spotted garment in warm soapy water. If the spots come off, they were caused by fabric softener/detergent interaction.
- Transmission oil leaked back into the tub. Test by applying solvent to a section of a spotted garment. If the spots come off only with solvent but not with soap and water, then they are oil spots. If the washer is a GE/Hotpoint, transmission will need to be replaced.
Clothes Torn or Ripped
- Use of too much bleach or bleach not getting distributed evenly.
- Clothes getting caught under agitator. Feel under bottom of agitator for rough spots that can catch clothing.
- Using too little water for the load size.
Clothes Still Soapy at End of Cycle
- Cold water valve clogged with sediment or defective (rinse cycle uses cold water only). See "No Cold Water" below.
- Timer contact defective. Test valve circuit to verify if timer is energizing valve during rinse.
No Cold Water
- Sediment has gotten into the valve from the household water supply and is obstructing flow. If sediment can be cleared from valve without removing protective screen, then do so but this is not recommended because valve integrity has probably been compromised once exposed to significant sediment. Do not remove protective screen because valve could get stuck open and cause a flood. It's always best practice to replace the valve anytime sediment has significantly accumulated at the valve.
- Cold water hand valve at wall turned off.
Washer Completely Dead
- Test for 120 volts AC at washer electrical outlet.
- Timer internal power circuit interrupted. Trace timer circuitry using continuity tests to determine if an internal set of timer contacts are broken. Sometimes it's possible to install an external jumper wire and complete the circuit. Other times, the entire timer must be replaced.
- Washer off-balance switch tripped during imbalanced spin condition. Open washer lid, redistribute the load and re-start the washer.