Ultimate Fix-It-Yourself Manual: Large appliances--Washing machines

.Despite its many settings and cycles, a washing machine is a simple device that does just four things:

it mixes hot and cold water, agitates this water with detergent and soiled clothing in a large tub, rinses the clothing in fresh water, then spins it damp-dry.

Electromagnetically controlled inlet valves regulate the mixture and flow of hot and cold water into the tub. A motor and transmission (gear assembly) drive an agitator to wash the clothes, then spin the inner basket to “wring” them out. The motor may drive the transmission directly, as in the model shown here, or by means of a belt. A pump recirculates the water through a lint filter during the wash cycle, then empties the tub before the spin cycle. A timer and selector switches control the sequence.

If a machine washes poorly, make sure you are using it properly (see Use and care, below, or your owner’s manual). Before opening the machine to make a repair, unplug the power cord, turn off the faucets, and drain or bail out any tub or hose water.


  • Drain hose
  • Water-level switch
  • Water-level air
  • Temperature selector switch
  • Timer
  • —Vacuum break
  • —Lid switch
  • —Water inlet valves
  • —Bleach dispenser
  • —Agitator
  • —Driveshaft
  • Self-cleaning lint filter
  • Transmission
  • Start switch
  • Motor
  • Capacitor

Note: Details of repair and disassembly may vary, depending en appliance model, It your washing machine differs markedly from this model or the belt-drive washer shown --see Appliance repair basics.





Won’t run

No water

Fills slowly

Water too hot or too cold

Won’t empty

Leaks on floor


Won’t agitate

Won’t spin

Noisy or vibrates too much

Power off at outlet or faulty power cord

Faulty lid switch

Faulty motor, capacitor, or start switch

Faulty timer

Kinked hoses or clogged inlet screens

Faulty water-level switch or timer

Faulty lid switch

Faulty inlet valve

Faulty temperature selector switch

Faucets partly opened or low water pressure

Kinked hoses or clogged inlet screens

Faucets not open equally

Faulty temperature selector switch

Faulty inlet valve

Kinked drain hose

Faulty agitate/spin solenoid (belt-drive model)

Faulty drive belt (belt-drive model)

Clogged or faulty pump

Leaky hoses or loose hose fittings

Clogged lint filter

Faulty tub gasket

Leaky pump

Faulty water-level switch

Stuck inlet valve

Faulty lid switch

Faulty timer

Clothing caught under agitator

Faulty drive belt (belt-drive model)

Faulty agitate/spin solenoid (belt-drive model)

Blocked or seized pump

Faulty transmission

Wash load unbalanced or too large

Faulty lid switch

Faulty timer

Faulty drive belt (belt-drive model)

Clothing caught under basket

Faulty agitate/spin solenoid (belt-drive model)

Faulty transmission or clutch

Wash load unbalanced or machine not level

Broken agitator

Worn transmission

See General Troubleshooting.

Test and replace

Test and replace. Or have serviced.

Test and replace

Straighten hoses; clean screens.

Test and replace

Test and replace

Test and replace

Test and replace

Open faucets fully. Have pressure checked.

Straighten hoses; clean screens.

Open both faucets fully.

Test and replace

Test and replace

Straighten. Or replace.

Test and replace

Adjust or replace belt

Clean or replace

Replace. Or tighten fittings

Clean filter (see owner’s manual).

Replace gasket

Replace pump

Test and replace

Test; clean or replace

Test and replace

Test and replace

Remove agitator to free clothing

Adjust or replace belt

Test and replace

Free obstruction or replace pump

Remove and have serviced

Redistribute load or remove part.

Test and replace

Test and replace

Adjust or replace belt

Remove basket to free clothing

Test and replace

Remove and have serviced

Redistribute load. Or adjust legs.

Check and replace.

Remove and have serviced

[Degree of difficulty: Simple Average -- Complex --- Volt-ohm meter required]

Gaining access:

1. Remove screws at bottom of control panel. Then swing panel up and back. (On some machines, control panel swings forward and may have screws at top or sides.)

CAUTION: Unplug machine before accessing any internal part.

2. Disconnect the electrical harness plug by squeezing side tab and pulling plug apart. Then remove clip at each rear corner: insert a screw driver into clip’s turned-up front end and pry it back to dislodge clip from hole in cabinet.

3. Tilt cabinet forward and lift it off washer base. Be careful not to snag hoses or other parts when removing cabinet. (For access to belt- drive washers, which usually have a lift-up top and a rear access panel.)

Control panel --- The timer controls the fill, drain, agitate, and spin cycles. Along with the temperature selector switch, it also opens and closes the hot- and cold- water inlet valves. The water-level switch turns them off when the tub’s water reaches the set level; before testing it, check its air hose for deterioration or a loose connection. Check all controls for corroded terminals; clean with emery paper. Unplug the washer before opening the control panel.

Testing the timer and temperature switch:

To test timer motor, take off leads. With VOM on RX100, probe leads. Look for reading of 1,100 to 3,000 ohms. To test timer fully, see ---

Test tempera ture switch as described in Testing a se lector switch; test terminal pairs indicated on chart on wiring diagram.

Testing the water-level switch:

1. With VOM on RX1, probe all possible pairings of the three terminals. Look for zero reading on one pair, infinity on others.

2. Disconnect air hose from tub. Test each pair again while blowing into tube until you hear a click. Look for zero reading on different pair.

Water inlet hoses and valve:

Water flow or temperature problems can often be traced to the water inlet hoses or valves. But make sure your water heater is supplying water that is hot enough. Also make sure the water has sufficient pressure. If the pressure seems low, ask your water company to test the incoming supply or have a plumber check for an obstructed pipe. If you have a well, check its gauge. Most washers require 30 to 80 psi (pounds per square inch) of water pressure.

To remove and check hoses …

To clean screens, use small screwdriver to carefully pry their edges from ports. Use a socket that just fits inside ports to push screens back in.

Test inlet valve solenoids with VOM on RX1. Remove leads and probe terminals. Look for reading between 100 and 1,000 ohms on each.

To remove vacuum break, often necessary to make other repairs, unhook it and remove the hose coming from inlet valve.

To remove inlet valve, unclamp and take off hose to tub. Then unbolt valve from cabinet. Unscrew solenoids. Disassemble and clean valve.

Disassembling agitator and basket:

If you just want to remove the agitator, you needn’t open the cabinet. But if you want to remove the splash guard and tub as well, you have to open the cabinet and remove the vacuum break and any other obstructions or connections. A two-piece agitator held by a recessed bolt is shown here. Many are a single unit held by a nut or bolt under a cap. Some have a side screw. If the agitator or tub is difficult to remove, apply penetrating oil and tap the edges with a rubber mallet.

1. Lift off softener dispenser or pry off agitator lid. Take out internal cap. Remove stud and seal, using socket wrench with extension.

2. Lift out agitator top, then bottom. Check & clutch assembly in top ---for wear; re place if needed. Many agitators are a single unit.

3. Remove splash guard by opening tabs (or prying off metal clips with a screwdriver). Replace gasket under guard if rotted or cracked.

4. Wearing safety goggles and gloves, remove locknut with hammer and drift punch (or use a spanner wrench). Don’t hit the basket.

5. Remove basket by carefully lifting it straight up. Lint filter is inside or under the agitator in some models. Clean or replace it if necessary.

Removing the tub:

A failed gasket around the agitator driveshaft can cause leaks. To remove the tub and replace the gasket, first remove the agitator, splash guard, and basket. Then unclamp and remove the drain hose and water-level air hose from the tub.

If the metal drive block is difficult to remove (Step 2), heat it slightly with a propane torch, then tap it upward with a hammer. If the tub is stubborn, apply a mild solution of soap and water to the center driveshaft.

1. Wearing safety goggles, use locking pliers to remove springs at bottom of tub. Label spring brackets; unscrew brackets and tub from frame.

2. Take the metal drive block off the agitator shaft. If block is stubborn, heat it with a propane torch and tap upward with a hammer.

3. Rock tub side to side and pull up. Squeeze gasket and push it out bottom. Push in new gasket from bottom. Soap shaft to reinstall tub.

Testing the lid switch:

This safety switch turns off the machine when you open the lid. The switch shown and its wires are a single component. To test it, open the control panel, disconnect the harness plug on the switch wires, and probe the terminals in the plug. To replace the switch, remove its mounting screws and pull out the switch and wires as a unit. If the lid switch has regular slide-on terminals, disconnect the wires when testing the terminals.

Test lid switch with VOM on RX1. Probe terminals (except green ground wire) in plug. Look for zero reading with lid closed, infinity when open.

Servicing the motor components:

The motor drives the drain pump and, through the transmission, the agitator and basket. To reach the motor on most models, first remove the pump.

The capacitor helps the motor start. If it fails, the motor won’t run. If the capacitor is not mounted on the motor, look for it inside the control panel. Discharge it before testing any part.

The centrifugal switch distributes power to the start and run windings on the motor. If it’s faulty, the machine won’t start. To test it (Step 3, right), you need to identify the terminals that are paired; check the wiring diagram. A terminal is usually coded with a letter indicating its wire color ( For example, BU for blue, W for white, or V for violet).

If you can’t isolate the source of a motor problem, take the motor to a repair shop for fuller testing. If you have to replace the motor, the new motor will usually come with a new centrifugal switch and a new capacitor. If the internal parts of the transmission are faulty, have them serviced.

1. To test capacitor, discharge it. Take off leads. With VOM on RX1, probe terminals. Look tor zero reading slowly moving to infinity.

2. Remove centrifugal switch. Take off harness & plug. Remove mounting screw and take switch off. Then pry off and label motor leads.

3. With VOM on RX1, probe terminals shown as U switch pairs on wiring diagram. Look tor zero with lever in, infinity when out (or vice versa).

4. Test motor with VOM on RX1. Clip a probe to white lead. Clip other probe to other leads in turn. 5. Look for reading of 1 to 20 ohms on each.

5. To unmount motor, remove screws on retaining clips, pry clips open, and pull motor out. Some motors may be mounted with bolts.

6. Check couplings on motor and transmission, and rubber isolation disc between them, tor damage. Remove them and grommets tor reuse.

Removing the drain pump:

1. With a pan or towel underneath to catch water, pry open retaining clips with a screw driver and pull pump off motor shaft.

2. To remove hoses, squeeze clamps with pliers £ and slide clamps up hoses. Carefully twist hoses off pump. Reverse steps to replace pump.

Replacing the transmission and clutch:

1. Remove agitator and tub pump, and motor. Lay washer on its back to unbolt transmission.

2. Pull out transmission and attached driveshaft. Unbolt and remove motor mounting plate; save tor reuse.

3. Pull thrust bearing off shaft. Pry off retaining ring, and slide clutch off shaft. Re-assemble in reverse order.

Common variant: Belt-drive washers:

Many washers, especially older ones, are belt driven. On some models you can reach the belt or belts by simply laying the machine on its back; no parts are in the way. To replace the belt on the type shown here, several parts have to be dismantled. But tightening belt tension is fairly simple. Before changing a belt, unplug the machine, turn off the faucets, and remove the inlet hoses.

Many belt-drive washers have a special device known as a wigwag—a pair of solenoids that control the shift between agitation and spin cycles. Test both solenoids if the unit won’t switch between these cycles.

To test the wigwag or tighten the drive belt, open the rear panel. Opening it also gives access to the motor; to remove it, disconnect its leads and take out its mounting bolts. To reach the basket or tub, release the clips that open the top as on a dryer. The control panel also opens like a dryer’s.

ABOVE: (left) Testing the wigwag: Test wigwag one solenoid at a time. With VOM on RX10, remove leads and probe terminals. Look for reading of 200 to 700 ohms. (right) Adjusting the drive-belt tension: To adjust belt tension, open rear access panel. Loosen mounting bolt, and move motor until belt deflects 1/2 in. when pushed in. Retighten bolt.

Replacing the drive belt:

1. Loosen tension on belt, and lay machine on its back (protect inlet pipes) so that you can work on bottom of machine. Then remove bolts holding pump and braces.

2. The front support post has a spacer. Remove bolt holding post, and take out spacer. Then unhook and remove the nearby clutch spring.

3. Rotate main belt pulley until cam bar begins to move out of clutch shaft. Then lift plunger on wigwag, and using large screwdriver as lever, force bar out of shaft completely. Remove shaft.

4. Rotate pulley to move cam bar back to its former position. Slip belt out. Put new belt on pulleys, reassemble parts, set machine upright, and tighten belt tension.

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