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Sunlight Appliance

How to test a Whirlpool Direct-Drive Washer 3-speed motor & capacitor?

8 posts in this topic

Hello all,

 

A long time ago I was at a client's home repairing her Whirlpool Gold washer that would not initiate any cycle. Apparently, someone had done work on it before and did a bad connection job at the capacitor. I repaired that issue and tonight I got a call from my past client with the "do you remember me?" intro.

 

Turns out that her washer is working intermittently. By that I mean sometimes it agitates, sometimes it just hums and smells like something is burning; sometimes it spins, sometimes it hums with a burning smell.

 

Just from her telling me these symptoms over the phone it sounds like the motor to me. Maybe she has something jammed in the pump or between tubs, but I have always wanted the down and dirty know-how of

 

1. checking windings to verify a bad 3-speed motor and

2. verifying the condition of the related capacitor.

 

I don't know how to check these capacitors, so if someone could tell me I would be grateful. Is it possible to do with an ohmmeter only?

 

If the capacitor is bad, is it possible to bypass it to check the motor? How?

 

The model number tag has been pulled off this machine for some reason. So, sorry about that.

Edited by Sunlight Appliance

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Need appliance parts? Call 877-803-7957 now!

  With a simple multimeter, you can do a basic static test of the capacitor. All this tells you is if the capacitor is shorted or not. Basically tells you if it's bad but not necessarily if it's good. You should first short the capacitor out with a screwdriver to make sure it doesn't have a charge on it that could damage your meter. Set the meter to read ohms and place the probes across the terminals. Initially, it will be a short circuit and read zero or very low ohms but it will quickly charge up so the reading should be increasing in ohms value. It's best to do this with an analog meter so that you can see the meter needle swing as it charges up rather than seeing a bunch of increasing numbers on the digital meter.

 

capacitortest1.jpg

 

 

  To get a better indication of the condition of the capacitor, many multimeters have a capacitor check function that will read the value of the capacitor. Something that just an ohmmeter cannot do. Here, I am showing this type of meter reading a capacitor from a GE machine. It is showing 47.39 microfarads which is within tolerance of the 45 mf capacitor.

 

capacitortest.jpg

 

  The problem with these static tests is that you are only using the low DC voltage of the meter to test the capacitor while in actual use, they will have 120vac across them. I have a piece of test equipment that will do full dynamic testing of capacitors that place full rated voltage across them and check for value, leakage, and ESR (resistance). This can find problems that a multimeter cannot. Most tech's don't have this type of equipment and really don't need it. If it doesn't look like it's been cooking, doesn't smell bad, isn't shorted (seems to charge ok with multimeter), it's probably ok. Best to just carry a couple spares to do a quick swap check anyway. You cannot bypass the capacitor as the motor needs it to start. You can however, disconnect the capacitor, apply power to the motor and quickly start it by hand to see if it functions. On Whirlpool motors, the capacitor is switched out of circuit anyway as soon as it gets going.

 

  As far as the motor windings, overload and switch, you can do some basic ohmmeter tests. For the Whirlpool motors, you should read 4 to 7 ohms across the start winding (yellow and black wires), 3/4 to 2 ohms across the high speed windings (blue and white wires), 1 1/2 to 3 ohms across the low speed winding (white/violet and white wires), and 1 1/2 to 3 ohms across the extra low speed winding (white/orange and white wires). You can check the overload switch between the white/black and white wires which should read dead short (zero ohms). With the motor switch in place, you should read short (zero ohms) across the red terminal and black wire (start winding switch) as well as the same across the orange terminal and blue wire. You must remove the switch to further test the switch mechanism. With the switch removed, you should have open circuit between red terminal and black wire and open between orange terminal and blue wire and dead short between orange terminal and violet/white wire.

 

  Power applied to a motor that won't rotate can be bad on the motor windings and capacitor. The capacitor is only meant to be in circuit for just a second or two til the motor gets up to speed. It is then switched out of circuit by the motor switch. If the motor won't rotate or the switch fails, the capacitor can quickly be destroyed.

 

Eric

Edited by fairbank56

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  The likely problem in that thread is the motor switch start contacts are sticking or the motor centrifugal mechanism is hanging up intermittently. If the start winding circuit isn't opened after the motor starts, it's going to blow the capacitor.

 

Eric

Edited by fairbank56

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Wow. Thank you. Just, wow. I love answers like this. Best thread ever.

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I don't feel any smarter after reading this thread  :blink:

 

 

Takes awhile to sink in

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When doing the ohm readings on the motor, don't forget to turn the meter to the highest ohm setting and then put one lead on the metal motor case and then the other lead to each motor wire lead. Shorts to ground, in the begining stages, happen as the motor windings loose the thin layer of varnish on the coils. Also, don't forget about the bearing itself as a factor in stalling motor; if the rotor shaft can't turn freely or there are begining shorts, then the motor will manifest some of the same problems as a failing cap. 

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