Washing Machine Repair
Stuff You Need to Know
How and Where to Buy Parts
How to Find Your Model Number
Repair Tips and Tricks
Note that this online manual does NOT yet cover
FRONT-LOADING washing machines!
Washer Brand Identification
Appliance companies, like most other major industries, have their share of takeovers, buyouts and cross-brand agreements. In some cases, the same washer machine design is marketed under several different brand names or model names.
Other manufacturers merged or bought other companies, and put out several different designs under the same brand name. The different designs are differentiated by being a different “model” or “series.”
Confusing the issue even more, some manufacturers “private label” their machines for large department stores. Such as Sears’ Kenmore and Montgomery Ward’s Signature machines.
Check the following list to determine if you have one of these “cross-branded” machines. If so, your repair info will be in the chapter for that design.
To properly identify your washer, please be sure to read “THE BIG FIVE” below.
ADMIRAL: Maytag Herrin
CROSLEY: Maytag Herrin
HOTPOINT: General Electric
J.C. PENNEY: General Electric
MAGIC CHEF: Maytag Herrin
MONTGOMERY WARD: Maytag Herrin or Frigidaire
PENNCREST: General Electric
RCA: General Electric
SIGNATURE: Maytag Herrin or Frigidaire
SPEED QUEEN: Amana
The BIG FIVE washing machine brands
Following are the primary domestic manufacturers of the machines sold in the USA and Canada.
From the 50’s into the early 80’s, Whirlpool used essentially the same old, dependable, bullet-proof design. They are known in the parts houses as “Whirlpool belt-drive” washing machine models.
In the early 80’s, Whirlpool began manufacturing their “Design 2000” washers. These are known in the parts houses as “Whirlpool direct drive” models. Both are covered in this book, in Chapters 3 & 4 with full instructions and diagrams of the whirlpool washer parts that may need replacing.
In the ’90’s, Whirlpool purchased KitchenAid. KitchenAid and Roper machines are direct-drive. In 2006, Whirlpool purchased Maytag.
Kenmore washers are, and always have been, private-labelled “Whirlpool” washers, both belt-drive and direct-drive
Until 1995, GE had made the same old fairly reliable design for 30 years. These machines were sold as GE, Hotpoint, and “private-labelled” as JC Penney and Penncrest brands.
In 1995, GE started making a new “front access” washing machine. Unlike the old model, there is no rear access panel on these machines; all the machine internals are accessed through the front. These machines were sold as GE, Hotpoint, and RCA machines.
Both the “old-style” and the newer “front-access” GE machine designs are covered in this manual, in chapters 5 and 6.
In the (’70’s? “80’s?) Westinghouse became White Consolidated Industries (WCI) and started buying up a whole bunch of different brands, including Frigidaire, Gibson, Kelvinator, and others. WCI’s machines were sold under these original brand names, as well as Westinghouse and White-Westinghouse brands. Frankly, these washers were pretty poorly designed, displaying major oil and water leakage within five years.
In the ’90’s, WCI was bought by Swedish giant Electrolux, who changed the company name back to the Frigidaire Home Products Company. They appear to have redesigned virtually their entire lineup, and in my never-to-be-humble opinion, the new designs are one heckuva lot better than the old designs.
They are still marketing products under Frigidaire and Gibson; if you look at the model number, it will start with a G or an F. However, the design is the same.
Some Montgomery Ward / Signature machines were manufactured by WCI, some by Norge (see Maytag.)
Same company as Speed Queen for awhile. Maytag has recently purchased Amana, but as of this writing, it has not shown up as differences in their product line.
Pre-1980 2-belt, 3-belt and “fluid drive” machines are all but extinct, and difficult and very expensive to get parts for, and thus are not covered in this manual.
Maytag has two different top-loading washers wearing the Maytag brand name.
In 2006, Whirlpool purchased Maytag.
“Performa” and “Atlantis” machines are the result of the purchase of the Norge and Crosley line (and design) by Maytag. Norge was the original designer of these machines. They are also known as Maytag “Herrin” machines in the parts houses. They have continued to manufacture these “Herrin” machines as Maytag “Performa” models and high-end Crosley brand machines, but they have gone through a LOT of evolution.
Some of the older Montgomery Ward / Signature machines are Norge machines.
The so-called Maytag “old-style” washers, or “orbital” machines, are virtually the same old reliable design that Maytag has been using for 40-plus years now. They are also known in the parts houses as Maytag “Newton” machines. The orbital machine, manufactured since the late ’80’s, is a “Newton” machine with a redesigned “orbital” transmission with only six moving parts. The “orbital” transmissions are interchangeable with the pre-1980’s so-called “counterweight” transmissions. Unlike the counterweight machine, the gearing in the orbital transmission can be serviced without removing the transmission from the machine.
Appliance parts dealers
Find yourself a good appliance parts dealer. You can find them in the Yellow Pages under the following headings:
APPLIANCES, HOUSEHOLD, MAJOR
APPLIANCES, PARTS AND SUPPLIES
WASHING MACHINES, DOMESTIC
APPLIANCES, HOUSEHOLD, REPAIR AND SERVICE
Call a few of them and ask if they are a repair service, or if they sell washing machine parts, or both. Ask them if they offer free advice with the parts they sell. (Occasionally, stores that offer parts and service will not want to give you advice.) Often, the parts counter men are ex-technicians who got tired of the pressure of going into peoples’ houses and selling a job. They can be your best friends; however, you don’t want to badger them with TOO many questions, so know your basics before you start asking questions.
Some parts houses may offer service too. Be careful! They may try to talk you out of even trying to fix your own washer. They’ll tell you it’s too complicated, then in the same breath, “guide” you to their service department. Who are you gonna believe, me or them? Not all service/parts places are this way, however. If they genuinely try to help you fix it yourself and you find that you can’t fix the problem, they may be a really good place to look for service.
When you go into the store, have ready your make, model and serial number from the nameplate of the washer.
How to find the model number (nameplate information)
The metal nameplate information is usually found in one of the places shown in Figure 1-1:
A) Along the bottom panel; on the left or right corner.
B) Inside or underneath the lid.
C) Somewhere on the back of the washer.
D) Side or top of the console
If all else fails, check the original papers that came with your washer when it was new. They should contain the model number SOMEWHERE.
If you have absolutely NO information about the washer anywhere, make sure you bring your old part to the parts store with you. Sometimes they can match an old part by looks or by part number.
Tips & Tricks
1) When testing for your power supply from a wall outlet, plug in a small appliance such as a shaver or blow dryer. If you’re not getting full power out of the outlet, you’ll know it right away.
2) If you just can’t get that agitator unstuck, your appliance parts dealer has a device called an Agi-Tamer for just such a circumstance. It’s basically a heavy-duty rubber balloon that fits under the agitator, and uses water pressure to lift it upwards from underneath.
3) If you need to drain the tub (usually because your pump isn’t pumping out) most folks try to bail it out. That’s a wet, messy, yucky job, and not very thorough.
Try this instead: use your garden hose as a siphon.
However, when you do, another problem arises: did you ever try to suck a charge of wash water through a fifty-foot garden hose? If you can, you’ve got one heckuva set of lungs. And what happens when that nice, week-old dirty wash water reaches your mouth?
You guessed it: there’s a better way.
What’s the point in sucking the water through the hose? To get rid of the air in the hose, right? Well, instead of using lung suction to do that, let’s use hose pressure.
Leave your garden hose connected to the faucet, and put the other end of it in the washer tub. Turn the faucet on for a few seconds, until it stops bubbling in the tub. The air is gone now, right?
Kink the garden hose so you don’t lose the water charge, and disconnect it from the faucet. When you’re sure the faucet end of the hose is lower than the bottom of the washer tub, release the kink in the hose. The tub will drain, almost completely, in just a few minutes. No muss, no fuss.
Repair tips and safety precautions
1) Always de-energize (pull the plug or trip the breaker on) any washer that you’re disassembling. If you need to re-energize the washer to perform a test, make sure any bare wires or terminals are taped or insulated. Energize the unit only long enough to perform whatever test you’re performing, then disconnect the power again.
2) To work underneath the washer sometimes requires leaning the washer back against the wall at a 30- to 45-degree angle. When you do, always block up one corner of the washer with a paint can or wood block as shown in Figure 1-7. NEVER DO THIS ALONE! Always have someone standing by to help you while you work beneath the washer, in case it comes down on you.
3) If the manual advocates replacing the part, REPLACE IT!! You might find, say, a solenoid that has jammed for no apparent reason. Sometimes you can clean it out and lubricate it, and get it going again. The key words here are apparent reason. There is a reason that it stopped–you can bet on it–and if you get it going and re-install it, you are running a very high risk that it will stop again. If that happens, you will have to start repairing your washer all over again. It may only act up when it is hot, or it may be bent slightly…there are a hundred different “what if’s.” Very few of the parts mentioned in this book will cost you over ten or twenty dollars. Replace the part.
4) If you must lay the washer over on its side, front or back, first make sure that you are not going to break anything off, such as a drain hose or fill valve. Lay an old blanket on the floor to protect the floor and the finish of the washer. And for goodness’ sake, make sure you drain the thing completely first!
5) Always replace the green (ground) leads when you remove an electrical component. They’re there for a reason. And NEVER EVER remove the third (ground) prong in the main power plug!
6) When opening the washer cabinet or console, remember that the sheet metal parts are have very sharp edges. Wear gloves, and be careful not to cut your hands!