Overview: Time, tools and savings
Repairing a washing
machine may sound
complicated, but these
machines are pretty simple
inside. With a few basic tools
and the steps we show here, you
can solve most problems yourself—and save the cost of a service
call ($80 to $150). We won't
cover every fix, but the repairs
we show will correct about 90
percent of washer troubles.
repairs are a
snap for the
You'll need a
socket set or
and a flashlight.
can take as little as an hour, but
set aside a full morning to diagnose
the trouble, get parts and
complete the repair. To find
parts, check the yellow pages
under “Appliance Parts” or
search online for “appliance
Figures A and B on the following
pages show two common washer
styles. The outer cabinet
shown in Figure A (Whirlpool
and some other brands) lifts off
completely, giving you access to
all the parts. The washer shown
in Figure B (Maytag and some
other brands) has removable
front and back panels.
Tip: Make sure your
For more money-saving fixes, type
“appliance repair” in the search box above.
Figure A: Whirlpool-type washer
Figure A: Whirlpool-Type Washer
To remove the
from this type
of washer, first
pull off the
up and release
the spring clips
with a screwdriver.
the cabinet off.
Note: Figure A is available in pdf format in Additional Information below.
Figure B: Maytag-type washer
Figure B: Maytag-Type Washer
To remove the front panel on this type of washer, yank
the bottom of the panel outward (you may have to first
remove screws). Pull the panel down and out.
Note: Figure B is available in pdf format in Additional Information below.
Unplug your washer
before you begin
any testing or repairs.
Fix 1: Grinding noise
If you own a Whirlpool direct-drive
washer (the water hoses attach to
the left side when viewed from the
back), you've probably got a broken
coupler—a common failure caused
by overloading the machine. It's an
easy and inexpensive fix, about $22.
Fix 2: Draining problems
When clothing or jewelry gets stuck in the hose to the
pump or in the pump itself, the machine won't drain
and you might hear squealing or grinding or smell
burning rubber. First remove the hose that goes from
the tub to the pump (drain the water into a bowl) and
check for stuck socks (yes, that's where they go). Then
run a coat hanger through the tube and pull out the
stuck objects. Next check the pump for broken blades
by shaking it. Rotate the pump shaft to make sure it
spins freely. Replace the pump if you find any damage
($55 for Maytag; $44 for Whirlpool). If you see any
burned or melted sections on the belts, replace them
($35 a set). Maytag belts are specially designed, so
don't substitute an ordinary “V” belt.
Fix 3: Slow fill or no fill
If your washing
machine fills slowly
or won't fill at all,
try cleaning the inlet
screens on the water
valve. To see how, type “inlet screen” in the search box above. If
that doesn't help,
replace the entire
water valve assembly
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Fix 4: Won't agitate or spin
If the machine fills with water and then just sits
there, suspect a broken lid switch. To test the switch,
you'll need a continuity tester (about $8) or a multimeter
(about $15). If you don't know how to use a multimeter, type “multimeter” in the search box above.
Remove the wires connected to the switch and
touch the tester's probes to the
switch's connectors. As you
open and close the lid, readings
should alternate between continuity
and no continuity. If not,
replace the switch ($33).
To replace the switch on a
Whirlpool-type washer (Figure A),
just remove the two screws and
screw in the new one. To get at the switch on a
Maytag-type washer (Figure B), you'll have to unscrew
the access panel behind the console and replace the
switch as shown here. Remember to raise the lid
before you remove the old switch.
Tip: Never drop a
lid! Slamming the lid
the lid switch.