Monthly Archives: March 2006

Diagnosing transmission problems in a Whirlpool / Kenmore top-loading, direct-drive washer

If you’re not familiar with the innards of these washers, properly diagnosing transmission problems and distinguishing them from other drive train or even control problems can be a real trick for the uninitiated. For example, your washer doesn’t spin or agitate but you hear and maybe even see the motor running. BTW, one sure sign that the motor is running, even if the tub ain’t moving, is if the washer pumps water outta the tub. See, the motor shaft sticks right into the pump so when the pump’s pumpin’, the motor’s gotta be motorin’.

But here’s a simple way of determining whether the problem is with your washer’s transmission or some other part like a clutch or a drive coupler.

Remove the cabinet and jumper the lid switch (tan to gray). Put the unit in spin and watch the shiny metal clutch disc that is on top of the transmission where the shaft comes out. If the machine starts and runs in spin, check to see if the disc is spinning. If it is, then problem is in the clutch, basket drive or the tub drive block.

If, on the other hand, the disc is NOT spinning, check for a problem with motor coupling or one of its retainers. You need to actually remove the motor to do this properly– eyeballing it from underneath just don’t cut it, Slick.

If all that looks good, then you need a new transmission.

To learn more about your washing machine, or to order parts, click here.

How to check the transmission in a Frigidaire top-loading washer

Sublime Master Appliantologist Willie in the Samurai Appliance Repair Forum illumines us with this handy quick check of the transmission in a Frigidaire top-loading washer:

Here’s how to check the transmission by hand. I forget which way to turn for agitate and spin but you should be easily able to figure that out.

Try to turn the main inner spin basket by hand, it should turn nice and smooth and easy in one direction and total lock if you try to turn in the opposite direction. Now if that test is successfull meaning the clutch/bearing or clutch/spring hasn’t failed then the direction that the tub turns is the direction it should be turning when spinning.

Now that you know what direction to turn it for spin, try to turn the transmission pulley by hand in that direction, the pulley should be locked and turn the whole complete transmission and spin basket with the pulley.

Now try to turn the pulley in the opposite direction, (which should be agitate), the pulley should turn real easy and the transmission should stay stationary and the agitator should be going back and forth, (very slowly of coarse since you can’t turn it fast by hand — you might need someone else to watch and make sure the agitator is moving). If the pulley locks up or is very hard to turn by hand in the agitate direction then you have a bad transmission.

If this test seems to work ok then you will most likely be ok with replacing the idler pulley and belt. This should give you a couple more years use out of the machine if the main tub seal or the lower clutching bearing or spring doesn’t fail.

Powerball cleaning tablets are a Bozo No-No for dishwashers

This just in from the appliance repair hotline, a special advisory against using Powerball cleaning tablets in Fisher-Paykel dishdrawers, also marketed in Ameedica under the Whirlpool and Kitchenaid brands:

Reports that a new type of dishwasher detergent tablet damaged switches in some dishwasher models has prompted the New Zealand Consumer Institute to order the tablet manufacturer to reimburse owners for repairs.

Reckitt Benckiser, maker of Finish PowerBall cleaning tablets, denied that the tablets are at fault, but agreed to cover repairs.

According to the Institute, the threestage tablets, which are inserted into the same compartments as granulated dishwashing detergents, create excessive foam in the tubs of dishwashers that eventually interfere with the operation of switches. DishDrawer units made by Fisher & Paykel are said to be especially prone to the problem.

PowerBall tablets are marketed worldwide under various brands, including Electrosol in North America. It’s not known if PowerBall tablets available in the U.S. have the same formulation as those sold in New Zealand. DishDrawer dishwashers are marketed in the U.S. under the Fisher & Paykel, Whirlpool and KitchenAid brands.

So, let that be a lesson to you!

And thanks to Master Appliantologist Pegi for posting this information in the repair forum.

Replacing a bake element in a GE oven… maybe

Oven not getting hot and you’re thinking you need to replace the bake element? Well, for starters, how do you know the element is bad? Could be the function selector switch, a burnt wire, lots of things. And then there’s the question of how to replace the element. RandyC, a grasshopper in the repair forum, started to remove the element when it exploded! And then, to make his joy complete, the original problem wasn’t even the bake element–turned out to be the function selector switch! You can read more about Randy’s repair misadventure and ultimate triumph here.

Maytag, Amana, Jenn Air, and Magic Chef Range F1 Codes

Here are some juicy pearls of appliantology wisdom from our friends at Maytag for understanding F1 fault codes. In some models, there are subcodes that make diagnosis even easier. Here’s a simple explanation of what’s going on and how to troubleshoot:

The F1 code indicates that:

a. The electronic range control (ERC) is sensing heat in the oven when in a time-of-day (i.e., not cooking) mode or

b. The ERC is receiving information to run multiple heat functions simultaneously.

Although different components (depending upon the model) could generate the code, simple and straightforward testing using your ohm meter is all you gotta do to test for it.

1. Check the oven temperature sensor. The oven sensor gotsta be within spec or it will cause the F1 code. As an example of being out-of-spec, the ERC will generate an F1 fault code when the sensor shows 1650 ohms during a time-of-day mode. This is equivalent to 350°F in the oven. The resistance isn’t high enough to generate an F2 code (runaway temp) or an F3 or F4 code (shorted/open sensor circuit). The ERC monitors the sensor circuit after a heat cycle and expects the resistance to drop back to 1050-1100 ohms. The fault code is generated when this doesn’t happen. Checking the sensor circuit means also checking the harness, harness connections and the sensor itself.

2. If the oven sensor circuit checks okay, then turn your inquisitive eyeballs to the touchpad. If the range has a separate touchpad/keyboard, the keypad may have moisture that is shorting several circuits simultaneously. If the F1 code is given immediately (instead of during or after a heat cycle), remove the ribbon connector from the touchpad to the ERC after clearing the F1 code. If the F1 code does not return in five minutes, then cast a suspicious gaze upon the touchpad/keyboard. Shorts may be caused by using an ammonia-based glass cleaner. The touchpad surface will absorb ammonia-based cleaners that are sprayed directly on the glass surface. When heat is applied, the surface material can break down causing shorts. If you’re gonna use ammonia-based cleaners on your control panel, then you should spray it on the rag and then wipe the touchpanel –don’t spray directly onto the surface of the touchpad.

3. On Amana ranges with a rotary temperature dial, be sure that the knob is in the OFF position when performing tests.

4. If these tests all check good, then replace the ERC.

To learn more about your range/stove/oven, or to order parts, click here.