General Electric “Front-Access” washer repair (including Hotpoint & JC Penney washers)

Has your GE washing machine quit?
Are your dirty clothes piling up?
Is your laundry room now a lake?
Is your laundry dripping wet at the end of a cycle?

In 1995, GE began manufacturing a new washing machine. They are commonly referred to as the “front-access” or “easy-access” machines, or simply the “new-style” GE washer, versus the “old-style” machine. GE sells them under several brands and model names, including “Profile” and “Maxus.” Except for the drain hose, everything is easily serviceable from the front of the machine. Inside the console, there is a “mini-manual” containing condensed disassembly instructions and a wiring diagram.

NOTE: THIS chapter has info specific to GE front-access washers…how the drive train works, how the washer enters each cycle, how to open the cabinet and access internal parts such as the agitator, pumps and clutches, and the most common complaints (troubleshooting) of this specific design. The second menu item on the right (in red) contains information on problems common to ALL washers…fill solenoid valves, water level control, sources of leaks, belt problems, and functions of the drive motor. If you do not read “Problems Common to All Brands” first, you may not be able to properly diagnose your GE front-access machine!!! CLICK HERE to go to this page.

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Drive Train

GE front-access washing machines are direct-reversing. (Figure FA-1) The drive motor drives the transmission through a clutch and a belt. The belt is the same one used in the old machine. The basket is attached directly to the transmission, which itself spins during the spin cycle. When the motor stops or reverses, a brake attached to the bottom of the transmission engages, keeping the transmission from turning during agitation.

Figure FA-1: Drive Train

There is no pump-driven water recirculation. Flexible fins on the agitator circulate water in the tub and through the self-cleaning lint filter in the basket hub.

One of the features is that the drive motor does not drive the pump. The drain pump in these machines is a separate unit with its’ own motor.

The suspension in these machines is reported to be VERY good. In one videotaped demo I saw, they put eight pounds of phone books in the machine during the spin cycle and the thing barely vibrated. In fact, if the washer is dancing around during the spin cycle, whoever installed the machine probably forgot to remove the suspension rod, inserted to keep the tub from moving during shipping. (It’s a long rod, almost the width of the machine, that you pull out of a hole on the bottom right side of the cabinet.) The suspension system is supplemented by a liquid-filled (unserviceable) balance ring in the top of the basket.

Some customers have complained about the pump being too loud. On the higher-end models, GE put some sound deadening insulation in the cabinet, but if you don’t have one of these machines, there is an insulation kit available with panels that stick on the inside of the cabinet.

A few more tidbits of info about these machines:

1) All functions are interlocked through the lid switch except the fill cycle. The washer will not agitate, drain or spin with the lid open.

2) There is a pre-pump function built into the water level switch. The water level must be quite low before the water level switch will allow the basket to start spinning.

Most of the parts on these machines are designed to be thrown away. For example, the transmission is a tiny little thing that was designed in large part around EPA requirements (less than 3 ounces of oil, stuff like that.) It was NOT designed with rebuilding in mind.

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How to open GE old style washer cabinet and console

See Figure GE-2 for details about opening the cabinet and console. In raising the top of the cabinet, you must keep two things in mind:

1) It is better to use a putty knife, rather than a screwdriver, to push the catches. There is less chance of chipping or scratching the finish.

2) Inside the lid, on the top right side, is the recirculation nozzle. (see figure GE-7 below) The nozzle fits through a hole in the soft plastic skirt attached to the top of the cabinet. You must push the nozzle out of the skirt as you raise the cabinet top, and insert the nozzle back through the skirt when you lower it.

Figure GE-2: Opening the Cabinet and Console

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There is no pump-driven water recirculation. Flexible fins on the agitator circulate water in the tub and through the self-cleaning lint filter in the basket hub.

One of the features is that the drive motor does not drive the pump. The drain pump in these machines is a separate unit with its’ own motor.

The suspension in these machines is reported to be VERY good. In one videotaped demo I saw, they put eight pounds of phone books in the machine during the spin cycle and the thing barely vibrated. In fact, if the washer is dancing around during the spin cycle, whoever installed the machine probably forgot to remove the suspension rod, inserted to keep the tub from moving during shipping. (It’s a long rod, almost the width of the machine, that you pull out of a hole on the bottom right side of the cabinet.) The suspension system is supplemented by a liquid-filled (unserviceable) balance ring in the top of the basket.

Some customers have complained about the pump being too loud. On the higher-end models, GE put some sound deadening insulation in the cabinet, but if you don’t have one of these machines, there is an insulation kit available with panels that stick on the inside of the cabinet.

A few more tidbits of info about these machines:

1) All functions are interlocked through the lid switch except the fill cycle. The washer will not agitate, drain or spin with the lid open.

2) There is a pre-pump function built into the water level switch. The water level must be quite low before the water level switch will allow the basket to start spinning.

Most of the parts on these machines are designed to be thrown away. For example, the transmission is a tiny little thing that was designed in large part around EPA requirements (less than 3 ounces of oil, stuff like that.) It was NOT designed with rebuilding in mind.

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GE front-access washer common problems

Leaks

A very common problem with these washing machines is that the drain hose, which is made of plastic instead of rubber, cracks and leaks. The triangle bracket that holds it on is a separate item and is very difficult to get off the hose. Replace the hose and the triangle bracket with it. (Figure FA-2)

Figure FA-2: Drain Hose

If you think water may be leaking from the seal between the tub and transmission, you will need to remove the tub as described below. These machines have also been experiencing some drain pump leaks. Replace the pump.

Another common complaint is that water mysteriously leaks during the agitate cycle. What is happening is that the lower transmission ball bearings are worn so the brake is not engaging fully. The basket then spins during the agitate cycle and and slings water over the edge of the tub. The basket obviously will not brake properly at the end of the spin cycle either. A lower bearing kit is available to rebuild the lower (ball) bearing assembly.

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GE front-access washer not draining

The fan blades on the front of the pump should turn easily by hand. If not, check for something jamming the pump. If it turns easily by hand but won’t drain the tub, replace the whole pump and motor assembly. Ditto if the pump leaks. See below.

GE front-access washer motor starting problems and / or bleach leak

Another problem experienced with these washing machines is with a bleach dispenser / hose. These were installed only on two-speed machines. Besides the fact that bleach is very hard on plastic and rubber parts, such as the hose itself, the hose chafes on one of the suspension rods until a hole develops.

 (Figure FA-3) Bleach then dribbles out and directly onto the drive motor connectors. The symptom is that the drive motor hums and will not start. There is a replacement wiring harness available; try that first. If the drive motor still won’t start, it may need to be replaced. See sections below. Incidentally, you won’t see this except in the earliest models; when this problem started showing up, GE quickly redesigned the bleach dispenser hose routing.

Figure FA-3: Inside the Cabinet

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GE front-access washer not spinning or agitating

The clutches have been experiencing some failures. The problem here is that the clutch pulley is pressed together and the top half of it comes off. You’ll find the belt and the top half of the pulley just laying there. Obviously the machine does not agitate or spin.

Another problem experienced, though it doesn’t appear to be a widespread problem yet, is that there have been some transmission failures. The symptom is that you attempt to remove the agitator, and the whole agitator shaft comes out with it. A spring clip inside is coming loose. Replace the whole transmission and brake assembly as described below.

GE front-access washer console access

To access the timer, temperature or water level switches, fill valve, or to remove the cabinet top, you must remove the console. Remove the four #15 torx-head screws on top and the console drops off. You can then pull the terminal blocks off the timer and any other switches in the console and set it aside.

The fill valve is accessible on the left. Unlike water valves of the past, the fill strainer screens are plastic and removable. They have a little tab in the middle that you can grab with a pair of needlenose pliers to remove and clean or replace them.

Figure FA-4: Console Switch Removal

Unlike switchblocks of the past, the selector switches and water level switch are not held in place by screws. There is a locking tab on each. (Figure FA-4) You pry up the tab with the screwdriver and twist it counterclockwise to remove it.

Installation is just the opposite; put the switch in place and twist it clockwise until the locking tab clicks.

Unlike the other switches in the panel, timers are held in place by one screw. The timer dial is held to the shaft by a clip. To remove it, pull it until the timer clicks into the “run” position, then reach behind it with a flat screwdriver and poke the clip off. To re-install it, put the clip on the back of the dial, then line it up and push it onto the timer shaft.

Unlike the old clamshell timers of the past, these timers are throw-away items; they are not rebuildable. They are also impulse-step timers: you sometimes have to wait two or three minutes for something to happen, unlike the old sequence timers, where you could literally watch them clicking off time.

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GE front-access washing machine – How to open the front panel

To access the pump, belt, clutch or drive motor, you need to remove the front panel. The front panel of these machines is held in place by two spring catches at the top, and rests on two tabs at the bottom. Remove as shown in figure FA-5.

Figure FA-5: Opening the Cabinet

Removal of either the drive motor or pump is pretty straightforward. To remove the belt,

loosen the motor mounting bolts to relieve belt tension. In certain positions, the transmission may block the drive motor from coming out. If so, physically turn the transmission until there is clearance.

The whole clutch comes off in one piece as shown in figure FA-6 and is replaced as a unit. The clip that holds the clutch on must be bent to remove it and is not reuseable. Replace.

A short word about the suspension. The two cylinders at the end of the suspension rods are suspension dampers. They contain springs, but they also seal and compress air, much like an air shock on a car. They are color-coded; the front ones are heavier than the back ones, because of the added weight of the motor and clutch.

Figure FA-6: Clutch Removal and Installation

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GE front access washer – Tub removal

Drain the tub (as described in chapter 1.)

To replace the lower bearing or transmission, the tub must be removed.

To replace the water seal, GE says that it is designed with tabs on it, to enable you to remove it with a pair of pliers, without removing the transmission. When I tried it, The tabs were not beefy enough and my pliers kept slipping off them. Without the transmission there, the seal popped off easily with the handle of a pair of pliers. If you need to replace the water seal, take out the basket, try it and decide for yourself.

To remove the tub, first remove the control console and the front of the cabinet as described above.

Remove the cabinet top by removing the screws in the two front corners. The back of the top panel is held on by hooks, so slide it forward and lift it off. Before you remove it completely, disconnect the lid switch wiring harness plug on the right (orange wire & white wire.) Also remove the bleach tube from the front of the cabinet top.

Disconnect the water fill valve and the wiring to it. Remove the 5 screws holding on the backsplash and lift it off; the fill valve will come with it. Remove the screws from the dampening straps (four rubber straps at the top of the tub.)

If you are going to be removing the transmission, remove the agitator and basket. If you are just servicing the lower bearing, skip ahead to “removing the tub and transmission.” You do not need to remove the basket, although the tub will be heavier when you remove it with the basket in it)

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GE front-access washer – How to remove the agitator and basket

Remove the agitator by slipping a belt underneath it as shown in figure FA-7, and tugging upwards sharply. Remove the bolt and the plastic air bell. Note that besides holding the agitator, the air bell contains air to keep water away from the transmission oil seal. So the O-ring on the bolt that holds the air bell in place is an important air seal and must be in good shape. (figure FA-7)

Caution: The agitator comes flying outta there pretty fast, and it can hit you in the face if you’re not careful.

Figure FA-7: Agitator Removal & Air Bell

The basket can be removed by removing the basket nut under the air bell. Note that this is an aluminum, left-handed nut (turn clockwise to unscrew). They are on VERY tight and being aluminum, they are easy to damage. There is a special slugging spanner wrench to remove these nuts; unfortunately, they’re not cheap. However, do not use an open end wrench; you WILL damage the nut. Do not heat it either… it is WAY too close to the transmission oil seal.

  • Unplug the wiring harness(es) from motor and unwind from the right suspension rod.
  • Lift the front of the tub off the suspension rods and snap the brackets out of the motor platform.
  • Tilt the transmission forward and disengage rear suspension. Careful, it’s heavy. Then lift the tub and tilt it either forward or backwards to remove it from the cabinet.
  • Pop off the eight clips holding on the tub crown. Note that three sides of the crown have forks that fit over knobs on the side of the tub, so it can only go on one way.)
  • Remove the basket and the split ring and washer underneath it from the top of the transmission casing. When re-installing, note that the tapered side of the split ring goes upward.
  • Flip the tub assembly upside down and set it on the ground.
  • Squeeze the belt with your hand and remove the pulley bolt and the pulley. Note that the ribs on the pulley stick upwards.

The lower bearing assembly is now accessible. A rebuild kit is available for (at the time of this writing) about $75, with the special tools necessary available for about $50 more. See section 6-6 below to rebuild.

To remove the transmission, cut the cable tie holding the overflow pipe to the motor platform. Remove the four bolts holding the motor platform to the transmission, and the four bolts holding the platform to the tub. Remove the motor platform and pull the transmission straight out. There is a washer (shim) between the transmission and the tub. The transmission and brake are one unit and are replaced together. The transmission is a throw-away item and is not rebuildable.

The tub bearing is not replaceable; if it is bad you must replace the tub. The water seal is replaceable. Using the handles of a pair of pliers, pop it out from the inside of the tub and press a new one in by hand.

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GE old style washer  – Rebuilding the lower bearing

There is a bearing kit to replace the lower bearing. Virtually all the parts shown are thrown away and replaced. There is an adjustment to be made in installing the new bearing. Several different pulley hubs are included in the bearing kit; each is a different thickness. There are metal guages and instructions also included in the bearing kit.

There’s also a set of special tools to change it out. They’re expensive, but the hub tool (part of the kit) is necessary to make the final adjustment. Adjustment instructions are included with the bearing kit.

Figure FA-8: GE Washing Machine Lower Bearing

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