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Washing Machine Diagnostic and Repair Guide


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#1 Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 09:37 AM






Washing Machine Diagnostic & Repair Guide

Problem
Possible Causes

EEK! My washer is leaking!

  • Your fill hoses might need tightening at either end.
  • I've seen where poor draining in the standpipe causes the sudsy water to back up and overflow, making it look like a washer problem when, in fact, it was a plumbing problem.
  • Maytags can have problems with the water injector leaking.
  • A pump might be leaking. You gotta open it up and see.
    On Whirlpool/Kenmore direct drive washers, the pump is down in front and you'll need to remove the cabinet to check it out.
    On old-style GE/Hotpoint washers, the pump is down in back and you'll need to pull off that back panel to check it out.
    The pump on Maytag washers is down in front and you'll need to pull the front panel off to check it out.
  • The tub might be leaking. How can you tell? Right, you gotta open 'er up and look at it. Crystal balls don't work too good.
  • The new-style GE's (which suck out loud) are bad for the infamous spin-during-agitate problem. This makes a mess because it sloshes water out of the tub all over the frikkin' floor. The only cure is to replace the brake package but, man, you might as well go ahead and replace the whole transmission. Prevention is the best thing here: avoid GE like the plague and buy only Maytag or Whirlpool laundry equipment.
  • The fill valve has crud caught in it making it stick open. Replace the fill valve and install sediment filtration on household water supply. More details on this here.
  • Very restricted water flow through the valve. This problem is unique to the older GE/Hotpoint washers. Low water flow will cause the water from the valve's discharge hose to run back up the hose by capillary action and down to the floor. This is a tricky one to catch, Hoss. Takes real kidneys to spot this one.
The washer doesn't spin or, if it does, it's real sluggish.
[/*]
  • No spin at all: the lid switch is fried. Whaddya do? You test it with your meter.
  • In the Whirlpool/Kenmore washers, a common problem is that the lid plunger stops making contact with the lid switch. Use a pen to manually press the lid switch actuator (with the lid up, duh). If the washer spins...well, you know the rest.
  • Older (belt-drive) Whirlpool/Kenmores: the spin solenoid is burned out or has cut wires. Ohm out that solenoid (20-30 ohms) and test with a test cord. Make sure the wires are intact by giving them a little tug. If this is OK, you may need to adjust/replace the basket drive.
  • Newer (direct-drive) Whirlpool/Kenmores: worn out direct drive coupler.
  • The drive belt has had it. 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 though the belts may look OK otherwise. Belts on other brands will be more obviously bad. Here's how to replace the belt on older Whirlpool/Kenmore belt-drive washers, and on old-style GE/Hotpoint washers.
  • Timer is fried. 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. The only way to confirm is to use your meter and wiring diagram.
It fills OK, it just won't agitate.
[/*]
  • Drive belt could be worn out--see above.
  • On the Whirlpool/Kenmore dual action agitator, the agitator dog cam assembly or drive spindle could be worn out. If the agitator just wobbles around when you turn it by hand, you need to replace the dog cam set.
  • The timer contacts for the agitate cycle could be fried. Time to blow the dust off that meter and read that wiring diagram.
  • On belt-driven Whirlpool/Kenmores: wig-wag plunger/lifter or transmission mode lever could be worn out. You'll need to look at 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.
  • On Maytags only: the lid switch could be fried. (Other brands will still agitate with a bad lid switch.)
  • Pressure switch is fried. You'll need to ohm out the contacts on it. How you gonna know what you're looking for in the contacts if you don't use the wiring diagram, too?
  • The air tube connecting to the pressure switch is pinched or you pulled it off by accident when you where tearing the thing apart because you didn't have a clue about what you were doing.
It doesn't agitate or spin.
[/*]
"Fool thing won't pump out and I got a tub full of stinky water in the washer. I'm gonna die! EEEK!"
[/*]
  • Pump's fried. If it's a belt-driven pump, you can tell by feeling how stiff it is to turn. For electric pumps, hook up a test cord and run it. Pull drain hose and watch discharge stream. If stream fluctuates or is pathetic, replace the pump.
  • Again, worn drive belt. In this case, washer won't spin either (or will have a sluggish spin).
  • The drain hose is clogged (usually with panties or nylon stockings, ya hey). Pull drain hose and watch discharge stream. A good discharge stream will have the same diameter as the hose itself. If less than this, it's time to play find the panties.
It sounds like a helicopter's taking off and the whole house shakes when the washer goes into spin.
[/*]
  • Try leveling the washer, genius. 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.
  • You have brilliantly located your heavy-ass washer on a floor that would be condemned for structural weakness if a building inspector saw it. Try placing reinforcing pads or pieces of plywood on the floor under the washer.
  • On Maytag top loaders: worn damper pads.
  • On Whirlpool/Kenmore direct-drive machines: worn snubber pads.
The clothes are still sopping wet at the end of the cycle and take forever to dry.
[/*]
  • Ain't but one thing: the washer's not spinning (although it still pumps out). "Oh no, I know it spins." How do you know it spins, Sherlock, did you bother to actually see it spinning during the spin cycle? Don't you think that'd be a better idea than shooting your mouth off at me?
"That washer put oil spots all over my clothes. I'm gonna sue!"
[/*]
  • Take a chill pill, Prudence, it's probably not the washer's fault (unless it's a GE/Hotpoint). Now, get ready to have your little mind blown: most of time, spots on clothes are from a chemical reaction between the fabric softener and the detergent. Oh sure, don't believe me, go hire a lawyer, I don't give a rip. But you might unbunch your panties just long enough to do this little test: try handwashing a spotted garment in warm soapy water. If the spots come off, they were caused by fabric softener/detergent interaction. I know, I'm a genius. But talk is cheap--thank me with your wallet, not your lips.
  • Transmission oil leaked back into the tub. This is most common with the older GE/Hotpoint washers. 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 you do have a GE/Hotpoint washer, take it to the dump and buy a Maytag or a Whirlpool.
"That horrible washer ate holes in my clothes! I'm gonna die!"
[/*]
  • Try using less bleach, Nurse Ratchet.
  • Your clothes are getting caught under the agitator. Feel under bottom of agitator for rough spots that can catch clothing.
  • You're using too little water for the load size you're running. Look, if you want to save water, get a front-loading machine. Otherwise, fill that sucker up and pollute all the water on the planet in the process.
Clothes are still soapy at the end of the cycle.
[/*]
  • Your cold water valve is clogged with sediment. Rinse is done with cold water. No cold water, no rinse.
  • Fried timer contact. Less likely but possible. Check the valve first, Hoser.
  • Itd be a good idea to check your water hardness, too.
I don't get no cold water in my washer.
[/*]
  • What, are you from Brooklyn and it's your birthright to talk like a moron? I think you meant to say, "I cannot get cold water to flow into my washer." There, doesn't that sound better, y'blockhead?
  • Sediment has gotten into the valve from the household water supply and is blocking the flow. Replace the valve.
  • Cold water hand valve at wall turned off...no, I'm not gonna say it.
The washer is completely dead.
[/*]
  • No power at the outlet...DUH!
  • Timer is fried.
  • Washer went off-balance and tripped the off-balance switch. Open washer lid, redistribute the load and re-start the washer. Wasn't that a lot quicker than getting on-line, finding this website, and listening to my abuse?
[/*]
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