Friday, August 14, 2009

Fixing the Kenmore washing machine

My beloved wife said that the washer wasn't working.

"Typical", I thought, "the extended warranty expired about a month ago."

The washer wasn't draining water during the spin cycle. But, hey, my friends had this problem with their front loader a year or so ago. The repair man said that they were using way too much soap; that the front loader needs about half the volume of soap the top loader needs. Detergent bottles and measure are still assuming a top-loading washer (I haven't seen any detergent boxes that talk about the volume needed for your front-loader -- post a comment if you have). The extra soap clogs the outlet valve and prevents the water from getting out. So, armed with this completely inadequate knowledge, I grab a screw driver and start looking for screws.

We have a Kenmore 3.1 Cubic Foot Front Loader. There is a lower front panel with two screws holding it in place; so that's where I started. The outlet from the drum as visible on the right side of the machine when facing it. A rubber tube that connected to two drain points from the drum ran to a small impeller pump and then to the outlet line. Everything was held in place with pinch-clamps. So I pull it all apart. Some soap, hair, coins, pebbles and a few tiny toys, but it really didn't look like enough to stop the machine from draining. Put everything back together and test it. Water in; start the spin cycle, water drains, no spin. Damn; I have to pull off the back panel.

That's about 40,000 screws that don't want to come out. Most of them need some Liquid Wrench and a Vise Grip to get them started. Last thing I want are 30,000 stripped screws. Um; you do know that I'm exaggerating here, right? There were only 4,o00 screws.

The drum looks fine. The belt looks fine, but I pull it off to double check. The drum spins without any catching, grinding or stiffness. The belt has no wear at all. I pull off the motor. That spins with a purr. Back-tracking the wires from the motor, I get to the control unit. That's held in with two screws and has two power and control connectors.

I pull out the control unit and, well, damn. The plastic protective sheet that covers the circuit board has a brown spot in the center. Off come two more screws, so I can lift the sheet and sure enough, something burned out some transistors.

Off to to look up the model & buy a new control board for $150 + $20 in enhanced shipping.

Slapped that puppy in and we have clean clothes!

You know what? There is no need for that extended warranty. There is nothing in that machine that I can't fix. Darn that feels good.

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