Why Do Washers Quit Spinning

Please be advised that this is only for informational purpose and we assume no responsibility for any injury or damages during any DIY repair. Always make sure the machine is disconnected before servicing it.

Have you ever had a clothes washing machine quit spinning or draining? Chances are if you haven’t yet, you might. According to the U.S.Census Bureau, Washing machines are in about 85% of American homes. This means 85% of home owners or renters may encounter some types of problems with their machines in their lifetimes. As demand grows, so do problems. This article will discuss some of the most common reasons why clothes washers quit spinning or draining ,and get recommendations on how to fix them.

First we will begin by explaining how washing machines wash and wring clothes out. Washers have many designs by many manufacturers. To properly diagnose the problem, the machines model number should be located. After finding the model number it is always good to research the type of design it is and what kind of parts it uses. (You can visit http://www.modelnumberlookup.com/ to research appliances by brand model number.) Most seasoned appliance technicians can know the answer to this just by looking at the machine, or asking a few specific questions like: “What brand is the machine?”,”Is the washer top loading or front loading?”; If top loading, ” Does it have electronic controls?” If so, “are there any error codes coming up?”;  Did the machine quit spinning, draining, or both?” “Is there any new, uncommon sounds coming from the machine?” The model number will be required for more details.

Modern washers in the U.S. have 3 basic designs; top loading with push, turn, and pull timers; front loading and top loading with digital electronic control boards. Washers with analog, or turn style timers have direct drive systems and belt driven systems.Direct drive systems are common on most Whirlpool built machines built before the 2005. When I say Whirlpool built machines, I mean brands that are designed under Whirlpool patents. These include but are not limited to many brands such as Admiral, Crosley, Estate, Kenmore, Kitchen Aid, Roper, Maytag, and most recent competitors entering the market, Samsung and LG.

Traditional Washers

Basic or traditional (not high efficiency) top loading washers can be easier to diagnose and repair than newer, high efficiency, micro chip controlled machines. This is because the mechanisms that make the machine spin and drain are directly driven by either a belt and pulley system or coupling controlled by the motor and transmission. When a top load washer quits spinning it can be the effect of a broken belt or locked (or broken) pulley systemroken couplers and lid switches, worn clutch bands, stripped or damaged drive blocks, and bad or clogged drain pumps are common problems on Whirlpool made (direct drive) machines. In worst case scenarios bad motors, transmissions, and timers can be the culprits.

After researching the design of the machine, the next step is to isolate the problem. By answering the questions in the second paragraph, you can narrow down the possibilities of problems. A broken belt will cause a washer to quit spinning and draining both in some cases. Some washing machines  use two belts, one to drive the basket and agitator, and one to drive the drain pump. If the washer quit draining, it could be that the pump is clogged. An obstruction could be preventing the pump from spinning freely, or the belt may be broken. Top load direct drive washers have the drain pump directly on the motor held by two clips. In some instances, the pump could have an obstruction, and the hole where the motor shaft goes into, to make the pump drain, could be damaged (stripped or cracked) causing the machine to quit draining and allowing it to continue to spin. The easiest way to diagnose a bad pump is by listening for the motor attempting to spin, by spinning it by hand, or removing it and visually inspecting it. On direct drive washing machines, you can attempt to manually spin the motor and transmission coupling if it cannot be spun the pump is likely obstructed. Sometimes the obstruction can be removed and the pump can be reused (the pump impellers can be damaged and can cause the machine to make a loud screeching noise after removing the obstruction and replacing the pump) A bad pump could also cause a water leak. Replacing the pump with a new factory certified part is recommended.

Sometimes washers drain the water but quit spinning. Usually this is a result from a broken motor / transmission coupler, worn clutch / clutch band, or damaged basket drive block. The drive block is what holds the basket tight on the transmission shaft. Drive blocks can break or become damaged due to heavy loads or just normal wear and tear. To diagnose this type of problem the agitator must be removed and the drive block should be visually inspected. To replace the drive block a special “spanner wrench” is required. To diagnose, inspect, and replace a clutch the motor and transmission must be removed. This requires a more advanced skill level. A bad motor and transmission coupler can be inspected by spinning it by hand as instructed earlier in this article. The coupler is located in-between the motor and transmission. The machine can be tilted back a bit and the coupler can be seen from underneath. When couplers break there is usually a loud and fast clicking or grinding type of noise associated with it. To replace the coupler, the drain pump must be removed from the motor, and the motor must be removed from the transmission. The coupler will be found right behind the motor.

Washers all have some type of mechanism for the door or lid.  For safety reasons, the lid switch, latch, or locking mechanism is what allows the machine to engage through its’ cycles only while the door / lid is closed. Government regulations have made it a requirement for manufacturers to install these mechanisms on all washers. Lid switches are diagnosed visually and with a multi-meter, while lid latches and lock are usually diagnosed with the on-board diagnostics system. Replacing the lid switch, latch, or lock, takes an intermediate to high skill level depending on the machine.

A bad timer, motor, or transmission can also be the cause of a washer not spinning. These parts require a high skill level to diagnose and repair. Motors and timers have many electrical connections and terminals that may have to be tested with a multi-meter to be diagnosed properly. Transmissions will often have a loud grinding noise when the gears inside strip or break.


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