Brother Bob brings us fresh pearls from Whirlpool Tech line on the latest strangeness going on with these Whirlpool VM washers:
Had an interesting call on a Vertical Modular Washer yesterday and I thought I should pass on the info that Tech Line gave me.
This was actually a Maytag M# MVWC425BW0. Purchased 12/28/13.
Compliant: Customer started a wash, left the house, came back home 5 hours later and washer was still running. Later that night she said that as they were watching tv the washer started up all by itself.
This washer was stuck in the "Endless Test Cycle". Tech Line said that this is used to test the washers before they leave the factory.
Tech Line said that if this was a new washer it would simply mean that someone at the factory forgot to take the control out of the Endless Test Cycle. However, he said that for the past year to year and a half they have been seeing these washers putting themselves into the Endless Test Cycle and the Engineers are stumped as to why this is happening.
To turn Endless Test Cycle On or Off:
Put the washer into Diagnostics, turn the dial to the LEFT (counter-clockwise) until the Wash- Rinse- Done lights are on. Push Start. If the washer powers Off you have just taken the washer OUT of Endless Test Cycle. If the washer starts to Fill you have just put the washer INTO Endless Test Cycle.
If the washer powers OFF, unplug for 5 seconds, plug back in and wait 10 seconds, if the washer does NOT start to Fill you have successfully taken the washer out of Endless Test Cycle.
He said that they have also been seeing replacement Control Boards leaving the factory that have not been taken out of Endless Test Cycle. He said that if you replace a Control on these washers to go in and check to make sure that Endless Test Cycle is indeed turned off.
Brother Brnt dispenses some pearls of wisdom on this topic:
kenmore model 417..... made by frigidaire you say you caught the machine filling and draining endlessly?
known frigidaire problem you need a speed board, also called the motor control unit
and yup a bad speed board can do all sorts of flakey stuff another symptom .... timer knob gets stuck at around the 5 o'clock position
another common problem i saw with these machines.... the tub can go out of balance bad enough to smash into the bottom of the timer. Remove washer lid, closely examine the bottom of the timer and where that molex plug connects there, look to see if it looks squashed or out of place
but filling and running the drain pump forever is the speed board for sure frigidaire blamed this on electrical interferance comming from other outside sources, they say they modified later boards to prevent this this was like 10 years ago or so
In this exciting episode, the Samurai shows you how to use the tech sheet schematic to troubleshoot a newer Whirlpool front load washer (one of the new Alpha2 platform washers) that acts like it wants to start but won’t. Watch with shock and awe as I ruthlessly hunt down the miscreant part and guide you through the troubleshooting process both on the machine itself and on the schematic diagram, demonstrating killa troubleshooting techniques that every tech should know. Come with me now on a journey of Total Appliance Enlightenment:
Many important questions have plagued mankind since the dawn of time. Questions such as, "Why am I here?", "Who is God?", and, most importantly, "What causes SUDs and SD error codes in high-efficiency front-load and top-load washers?" Here now to guide us into the truth and understanding of this important epistemological question is Brother Delawaredrew:
Suds errors are often detergent related. It's not so much that the pump doesn't pump suds (although it doesn't) but that the pressure switch can't tell the difference between suds and liquid. So the computer doesn't see an empty tub.
An easy explanation of when computers generate a suds error is that the program has a set time allowed for the drain part of the cycle. For instance many whirlpool front loaders allow 4 minutes. After that time if the cpu has not seen a change in the pressure switch reading the SD or Suds or whatever error is displayed (this is why clogged or bad pumps show Suds) ... some machines will have some sort of suds killing routine that is initiated and some will just stop. If the CPU still doesn't see a change in water level after continued pumping you usually see a long drain code like LD or F01 or F21.
When I see repeat drain errors I first try to tell if it actually is draining at a good rate... if so I will check the pressure hose for clogs by first blowing into it at the switch end. If that is okay test the switch itself (if no fill errors are happening this is less likely) then the wiring. On models with integrated pressure sensors obviously you can skip testing the switch.
About the Cabrio/Bravos/Oasis models - lint, socks and other items sometimes gather at the sump cover and block the pump intake. Also coins and other items can damage the plastic impellors of the pump; decreasing pump rates yet still moving water.
I only get about 30 minutes per call so I have a pretty set method of diagnosis for problems to eliminate common issues. It works for me but we all think differently. In general I go for simplest solution first unless I know that a certain component is likely; like the analog pressure switches and F35 error.
First, lemme start off by saying I love front load washers. I think they offer the best clothes washing technology out there combining low water use with a gentle tumble wash that's easy on the fabrics, making your clothes last longer, and does a very thorough job of cleaning the clothes compared to the high efficiency (HE) top load washers.
We're a family of five with dogs and cats. We've used a front load washer for over 16 years at our house and, aside from routine repairs, have never had any washability or odor complaints. You'll hear some people complain about these issues with their front loader but, in almost every case I've seen during service calls, it's been due to user error-- usually using too much or the wrong type of detergent.
The Economics of a Repair
Okay, so front load washers: rah-rah, go team go. Why have a special post dedicated to front load washer drum bearing and inner basket failures?
Because these failures are usually considered a "total" event (as in "Dude, I totalled my car last night") by professional Appliantologists due of the huge cost of the repair. Not only are the parts expensive (sometimes more than $500) but the job itself can take more than three hours (depending on the particular nightmares you run into) and usually require a second man... or one with a very strong back, though it may not be after completing one of these repairs solo!
Everything is repairable. The question is: does it make economic sense to do the repair?
There are two circumstances where it may make economic sense to repair a failed drum bearing or inner basket support spider:
1. You are going to do the repair yourself, so you're only paying for parts. 2. The machine is still under full or partial manufacturer's warranty and some or all of the cost of the repair will be covered.
So, if you're in a situation where neither of the above conditions apply, wouldn't it be nice if you could positively diagnose a bearing or basket failure on your own and at least save yourself the cost of a service call? Ya sure, ya betcha! And hence, the raison d'être for this post.
How to Tell if Your Washer has Bad Drum Bearings or a Broken Inner Basket
Okay, enough talk. Let's do some basic watching and listening.
1. Broken Inner Basket
The inner basket is supported in the back by a special metal structure called a "spider." The spider has three support members that extend from the basket hub to the outer perimeter. A common failure is for the support members to corrode by galvanic corrosion, eventually weakening the metal to the point that it breaks. Here's an example of what that looks like, this particular washer is a Frigidaire but this is typical regardless of brand:
Here's another example, but this is from a GE front loader:
What you see in these photos is called galvanic corrosion. Various theories abound as to whence cometh this galvanic doo-doo. Some of the more plausible ones include:
- Dissimilar metals used in the support members vs. the basket metal itself. - Certain combinations of hard water and detergents. - Running the washer on a non-grounded or improperly grounded outlet.
Regardless of the cause, which is a whole separate and interesting engineering discussion, if this happens to your washer, your immediate tasks are to 1) properly and positively identify this failure and 2) decide whether to repair or replace based on the economics of the situation.
2. Bad Drum Bearings
This failure usually manifests as a roaring noise during the spin cycle. This first video demonstrates the tell-tale sound of bad drum bearings:
In advanced stages of this failure, you can also diagnose bad bearings manually using this technique:
Ruh-row, trouble in washer-land! These drum bearings are factory-pressed into the back half of the drum. So it's not like you can buy a set of OEM bearings, pop 'em in and off you go. You have to replace the whole drum, at least the back half, with the factory-installed bearings. Problem is that you'll usually find the drive shaft on the inner basket so corroded that you'll need to replace the inner basket at the same time. Double whammy!
If you look around the Internet, you'll find third-party bearings that claim to be a drop-in replacement for the factory-installed bearings. I've not heard of a single case of this repair lasting more than a few months. If you've done this repair and have gotten longer than a year out of it, send me proof and you'll be a rock star.
The reason these third-party bearings have such a dismal reliability record is because the tolerance on these bearings is astonishingly tight. When you consider the pressure and speeds that these bearings need to work in, it's amazing they last as long as they do. These bearings are actually a precision-machined piece and that's why they have to be installed at the factory for maximum reliability.
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