Friday, June 24, 2011

How to repair direct drive washing machines?

Daunting as it may seem, washing machine repair, for the most part is not all that difficult. I refer mainly to the Whirlpool, Kenmore, Estate, and Crosley brands. These direct drive wonders use so few parts to get your clothes clean that they should be listed in the Guinness book of world records as Most Efficient Machine of the Decade.

Other brands use such methods as Tub suspension and Electric pumps and belts to accomplish the same task, with less positive results.

If there were a leader of the pack ratings system for Washing machine failures, the leader would most definitely be Frigidaire.
This applies to both their Washing Machines and their Dryers. What compounds this problem is the fact that most of these failures are catastrophic, expensive, and a major parts replacement headache.

Nobody wants to buy a Washer or Dryer that has an average lifespan of 6 months to 2 years, and that is what most of us end up with these days.
This isn't entirely the manufacturers fault however. In an effort to please their customers, many manufacturers try to add innovative features and advancements which make your appliance more user friendly. The competition is often tough and heated with the end result that the manufacturer is often rushed, to market a machine that competes equally with it's name brand rivals.

The case for Front Loading Washing Machines

If you own one, or have owned one in the past, I won't surprise you with the statement that these are the most problematic and troublesome machines in this field. Front Loaders are prone to leak from their silicone aprons, burn out their rear bearings, slip off of their suspension brackets and kill their own motors and brains. That's why I Dub these the Suicide Machines.

When it comes to repairing these I take the, (Why Bother) approach.
After all, I can be virtually guaranteed that whatever work I have done it will come back to haunt me, and in the long run, damage my reputation.
The customer is reluctant to blame the maker of the machine, and only too happy to insult the technician, no matter how hard he has worked to make their pride and Joy function again.

By now I hope you grasp the fact that this article will not be your saving grace for that ailing Frigidaire, or that nasty leaking front loader with the glaring FF failure light.

This article applies only to those machines that earn the right to be called true Direct Drive Washing Machines.

Now On With The Show !

Direct Drive Washing Machines consist of 4 distinct parts.
The pump, the motor, the coupling and the transmission.
All of which can be disassembled and replaced by the least educated among us with very little difficulty.
Basically, if you can change the oil and filter in your car, fill your own dishwasher or de-lime your Mr. Coffee, you have all the skills you need to fix your OWN Direct Drive Washing Machine.

Tools required

1. A standard Flathead Screw Driver (Motor and Water Pump Retention Clips)
2. Water Pump Pliers for hoses (Channel Lock Pliers will also work)
3. A 1/4 inch socket and Handle, or 1/4 inch nut driver.(Motor Nuts)
4. A 9/16 to 5/8 inch socket and 3/8 inch ratchet (Transmission)
5. A 3/8 Socket and 3/8-8 inch extension plus 3/8 ratchet (Agitator)
6. Phillips Screw Driver

Symptoms and Cures

1. Symptom: Leaking water from the front of the washer

Cure: Tighten the Water hoses(Tools #2) to your machine or Replace your water pump (Tools, #1, #2 ) Remove the retention clips that hold your pump to the motor. Squeeze and slide your water pump clamps away from the water pump and remove the hoses, then replace the pump.

2. Symptom: Washer drains the water, but fails to spin or agitate.

Cure: Replace the Lid Switch (Tools #6)

or Replace the motor coupling located directly in front of and attached to the motor by removing the water pump (Tools, #1, #2 ), hoses, then the water pump Retention clips (Tools #1) then the nuts holding the motor clips down (Tools #3).and finally the clips holding the motor (Tools #1).

Pry the plastic tripod shaped plastic piece from both the motor and the transmission (Tools #1) and throw them away along with the Rubber cushion between them. Replace the Tripods with the new coupling partsexactly as they were before removal. The plastic tripods will be tight so you can tap them down flush to the motor shaft and transmission to seat them in place. Replace the rubber dampener on the transmission taking care to match the motor tripod to the empty teardrop shaped holes and seat the motor back in place then clip it all back together. I never replace the screws since they make no difference at all when locking the motor down. The clips are more than enough to keep this all together.

3. Symptom: Washer fills with water, but doesn't spin, agitate or drain, and no motor noise is heard

Cure: Again this may be a lid switch depending on the year and model (Tools #6) or it is the Start upcapacitor (Tools #3 or #5). The capacitor is usually a long 4 to 5 inch black to brown cylinder with 2 electric leads recessed into the head. It is located in one of 3 places. In the head and timer area, Mounted to the back inside wall of the machine or Screwed directly on the motor with a circular bracket. You can usually remove the capacitor easily if it's mounted to the inside wall or the motor. The head/timer area will require you to remove 2 Phillips head screws (Tools #6) slide the head forward and unhook it from the base of the machine.
The capacitor may either be mounted in the head itself, or the top of the steel base.

4. Symptom: Motor spins, water fills, pump drains water, lid switch activates the motor, timer hums but washer neither agitates or spins.

Cure: Replace the transmission.(Tools # 1 through #5). there are 3 bolts that hold the transmission in place, as well as the nut that holds the agitator in place.

I usually remove the agitator bolt first,

then tip the Washing Machine 60 degrees on it's back to access the transmission for this repair, then I remove the wire loom attached to the motor as well as the capacitor if it is screwed to the motor. Then remove the wires from the small plastic loop that locks the motor wire loom in place on the transmission. Next, remove the 3 bolts that hold the transmission to the machine and slide it out without bending the agitator shaft. Replace the transmission with a used or new transmission that exactly matches the old transmission agitator shaft length. Assembly is the exact reverse of disassembly.

5. Symptom: Washer does exactly what it is supposed to do, except that when the lid is opened, the tub makes a howling or grinding noise, and sometimes a shrieking or whistling sound, followed by a burning smell.

Cure: This is caused by the Tub Brake (Clutch) which is located directly on top of the transmission and has a loose rubber noise dampener ring attached to the outside of a shiny silver/chrome looking wheel. Inside this wheel you will find a circular ring with a spring and 2 dog eared bends in it like this /.

This piece is the actual brake (Clutch) shoe, and if every other hole on that shoe does not have a white pad riveted to it, your brake has either begun to fail, or has already failed completely. Replacement is easy, just grab your pliers, squeeze those 2 dog eared bends together and lift it out.
When you install the new one, be careful sliding the transmission back on because there is a white plastic cam on the drum that must be free spinning to activate the brake.

This cam must not rest between the Dog ear bends "/ ( a common mistake) but to either side of them " / or / ".

6. Symptom: Lower Agitator rotates, upper agitator spins freely, Clothes are still dirty.

Cure: Replace your Agitator Dogs.

This is a typical agitator dog replacement kit above, but in most situations, you will only need the 4 beige dogs you see in the picture.
You will need to remove your Agitator bolt to release the agitator assembly. Then you will need to pull the large white piece as seen at the top of the photo straight up to access the dogs directly. Most of the time the entire top half of the agitator breaks free, so don't get excited, this is to be expected. Replace the dogs in the slots provided exactly as they came out with the teeth grabbing the inner rim of the agitator. Then reassemble and bolt in place.


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