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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 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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WASHING MACHINES: The Evolution Of An American Dependency


The piles of clothes are mounting up. The laundr-o-mat is too far, too expensive, and just never know what kind of machines you’ll get. Will it steal your money? Or even wash the clothes? Why did the washer at home break down? It seems like the saying is true, good things aren’t missed until they’re gone.

Without their faithful appliances, people sometimes feel like a piece is missing from them. The convenience of the washing machine has really helped improve productivity in the home. What use to take a whole days work, before our modern technology, now can take only a couple hours or less. As a culture, us Americans have become dependent on many technologies, the washer being one of them.


The first washer ever used was the scrub board, used in the 17th century. We have come a long way since the days of hand washing and hanging clothes.  In the mid 18th century the modern washer begun to evolve into what we know today. An American named James King patented the first washing machine to use a drum, it was hand-powered. In 1858, Hamilton Smith patented the rotary washing machine. It would be 50 years until the first automatic washer was invented. Over time washers begun having more features and technologies evolving into them.



These days, nearly all machines being sold nationwide are microchip controlled. The moving parts have also evolved. Although many machines look the same, the truth is there are many designs and patents out in the market. Sometimes different brands may look very similar, that’s because most likely they are the same patent. Companies around the world buy and sell patents to each other to increase revenues and market share. That can be an advantage for appliance techs. Gaining knowledge on one machine can gain you knowledge on hundreds. Appliances are like cars, there is the “Kia” and “Cadillac” of manufacturers.

The best thing to know as a consumer is that most machines will function the same if they are similar designs. What makes appliances more or less valuable are the functions, features, and sizes available. The interior functional parts will be nearly, if not identical, all to each other. From the cabinet (housing), to the motor. Parts may even be interchangeable in many cases. It is wise to research before attempting to use interchangeable parts. Although they may be almost perfect matches, parts sometimes differ in design by only small measurements physically and internally.  Electronic resistance, pressures, and temperatures can affect a washers performance. Higher end machines may be designed for higher temperatures or heavier loads. Newer machines may be built more efficient so internal parts may be designed to operate different. Valves may have sensors programmed for only certain machines.

Common problems faced by technicians are broken belts, inlet valves, pressure switches, lid switches and locks, transmission couplings and clutches, broken or clogged drain pumps, and in worst case scenarios, motors, transmissions, timers, and control boards. In recent years newer machines are becoming more costly to service due to the high cost of electronic parts, training, expertise, and in most cases travel required to diagnose and repair the machine properly.

beltBelts usually break from normal wear and tear or in some cases locked pulley systems. Many Whirlpool built machines do not use belts. An automatic direct drive system controls all cycles. A motor is connected to a transmission by a part called a coupling. When the motor rotates in one direction, the gears in the transmission rotate to make the transmission shaft agitate in the wash cycle. When it is time to spin the motor rotates the opposite way, making the transmission shaft rotate with the clutch in the opposite direction. The direct drive with transmission system has been one of the most desirable designs to work on by techs, but it’s becoming obsolete. Tougher regulations on energy efficiency have made manufacturers engineer more efficient appliances knocking old designs out of the market. Newer washers have a more modern direct drive system which doesn’t use a transmission, making them more efficient.valve

All modern washers have an inlet valves. This is the part where the washer hooks up hoses to supply water to the machine. These valves are controlled by a solenoid that opens it with a 110 volt electric current. Inlet valves sometimes fail due to being clogged by dirt and mineral deposits, and also due to other user related and design problems. Previous encounters here at CSA Appliance Sales & Service include broken valves due to cold freezing weather and during moves.

pressure-switchPressure switches are the components that control the water level on the machine. All washing machines must have a functional pressure switch to prevent it from overflowing. The pressure switch senses the water level by pushing air up through a very thin rubber hose as the water level rises. Once it gets to the selected temperature, it closes the electric circuit to the inlet valve and sends electric current to the main controller (timer or control board). This part is less likely to fail.lid-switch

Sometimes when a washer will not engage, lock, or begin its’ cycle, it can be the result of a
broken lid switch, latch, or lock. Older lid switches are more simple to diagnose than newer latches and locks in most cases. If the machine is not engaging, it could be because of a bad lid switch, latch, or lock. Proper diagnosis should be performed before replacing.

With advancement in technologies also comes advancement in problems, and a demand for qualified people to correct the problems. As old technologies are being replaced by new ones, the repairman is also having to take up new approaches to solve problems. Old issues are becoming more rare. Today’s technicians must not only be mechanically inclined, but also technologically inclined as well. What use to take a short amount of time can now take hours. Diagnostics of machines are becoming more complicated. Although most modern washers have on-board diagnostic computers, sometimes they cannot pinpoint specific problems.


The washing machine is certainly becoming a modern marvel. One day they will probably be remotely controlled like many other appliances these days. Keeping up with good maintenance practices can extend the life of machines, especially newer ones. For instance, front loading washers should be left open when not being used. Avoid spills on the electronics, and clean out pump filters if they have one. Following installation instructions is also important. Dryers should be properly vented and installed. Short vent hoses, and leaving at least a 6″-8″ space from rear wall will allow your machine to operate more efficiently. There is no way to really know how long any machine will last. The best thing to do is to purchase one that will fit your needs and budget. Doing a little investigating will certainly help in the process. If you ever need assistance with any appliance issue make sure to comment, subscribe, call, or e-mail CSA Appliance Sales & Services to help you out. Happy washing!

Keep calm, the laundry will get done.smiley

Reference: Mary Bellis. History of Washing Machines. About Money-, September 3). Retrieved from

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     CSA Appliance Sales & Service is developing a new way to keep consumers informed. Here we will discuss common issues with home appliances such as washing machines, dryers, stoves, ovens, dishwashers, refrigerators etc. and also other problems that professionals  may run into in the field. We understand household appliances are the backbone of a happy home. With the ever growing variety of machines out in the market, sometimes consumers don’t know which route to go about in the event of a break down. Do they buy a new one or get theirs fixed? There can be many things taken into consideration when deciding. How old is the appliance? How long have you owned it? How well did it work? What is the cost to get it fixed? Has it had any previous repairs? Whats the cost of a new one? Can you afford a new one? If not, how trustworthy is a used one? Where would you get it from?  The list of questions could go on and on. This blog is intended to educate consumers and provide answers to the most common questions in the appliance industry.

      If you have ever had an appliance serviced in your home, you may have wondered why the repair went by so quickly and how it broke down in the first place, how is the cost of repair calculated, will it happen again, or maybe even if there is anything you can do to prevent or minimize future problems. Well at you will find answers to many of your questions. If there is a specific question you have, feel free to start a discussion with us and the community. We have qualified technicians ready to answer your questions. If you are in our local service area and would like to have one of our techs come out and service your appliance, or just have questions, you can call us at (214)283-6390. Bringing happiness to you is our business. We have many years experience and are always researching and developing new ideas to make your life easier. So keep calm, the chores will get done. smiley