Front Loading Washer Corrosion Contagion: A Menagerie of Metallic Misery

by Samurai Appliance Repair Man on October 28, 2009

in Washer Repair

Been seeing a rash of galvanic corrosion-induced failures of the drum support spiders in various brands of front loading washers. Affected brands include GE, Whirlpool, and Frigidaire. Since Sears Kenmore brand outsources everything with a Kenmore label, all Kenmore washers are manufactured by one of the three aforementioned companies and will also manifest this same problem (see this topic for more info on who makes Kenmore appliances).

Kicking off the Washer Corrosion Hall of Shame is this bit of metallic misery from a Frikkidaire washer:

Frigidaire Washer Drum Spider Extreme Corrosion

Closeup of Corroded Drum Spider on a Frigidaire Front Loading Washer

The drum support spider in this Frigidaire washer had corroded so much that the hub and drive shaft actually broke off. Note the pitting in the metal. You can see in the closeup that the metal seems to turn into powder. That’s the galvanic corrosion that I be tawkin’ aboot, you dig? It weakened the spider structural strength so much that it failed during use. Ah, Grasshoppah, can you stand with me, our mouths agape at the raw power of chemistry?

Next up is this drum from a GE washer:

GE WCVH6260FWW Front Loading Washer Corroded Spider

Not to be outdone by their competitors, here’s an advanced case of galvanic corrosion in a Whirlpool Duet washer (also sold as the Kenmore HE2/3t):

Whirlpool Duet Washer Drum Spider CorrosionWhirlpool Duet Washer Drum Spider Corrosion: Hub Closeup
(click images for larger view)

Whence cometh this galvanic corrosion? Most likely because of dissimilar metals between the spider assembly and the drum setting up a galvanic cell inside the washer. The drum is stainless steel and the spider is aluminum. In the wet environment, the aluminum acts as a sacrificial anode, like the zinc rod in a water heater. Some combinations of detergents, fabric softeners, and water quality conditions may create electrochemical conditions which exacerbate this problem. Can you say, “Design flaw?”

I think the engineers at one of these companies figgered out a way to save a buck two-eighty by using an aluminum drum support spider and the engineers at the other companies just brainlessly copied it without applying gray matter. My Momma always telled me that stupid is as stupid does. I rectum now I see what she be sayin’.

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