Screaming wash machine, repair or replace?

azmomOctober 7, 2012

Recently our 10 years old Kenmore Elite, SM 9710803-A washer started screaming when enterting spin cycle. The noise is horribly sharp and loud, it lasts a few minutes then disappears.

The washer has been repaired twice. The 1st time we replaced agitator when it started damaging clothes. We were told that we put sharp items in the washer that caused burs on the agitator, we throught we never did but admitted nontheless. The 2nd time the washer quit. We were told that we should not set the water level in between two water level indicators. DH loved to do that, the repair bill cured this habbit. We are not crazy about the washer, but it gets the job done.

May I ask is this an expensive problem to fix? DH wants to get a new washer since it is 10 years old. I suspect the thought of dealing with Sears repair department gives him incentive of buying a new machine elsewhere. Yet after reading reviews of wash machines of different models under various brands, I am thinking may be it is worthwhile to fix and keep this one.

Any feedback will be very appreciated.

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SM 9710803-A is not a model number. If you found the number on the lid, top deck, control panel, rear panel, etc., it's a vendor production number for that single part. Agitator infers toploader, but there's more than one mechanical design under the Kenmore Elite branding so I can't accurately answer without the model.

A screeching noise at the start of spin (presumably during basket acceleration) that eases when full speed is reached may be related to the spin clutch or brake, basket drive block being worn, or bearings. Does a similar noise occur when the basket brakes to a stop at end of spin?

Can you post a video on YouTube?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 10:57AM
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Hello Dadoes,

Thank you for the inputs; I was hoping you would respond.

You are right, the number I took is from inside of the lid, it must be the part number. I found the model number from purchase record: Model 20952 with a serial number starts CK27194 ends with 2 more digits. The machine is TL, it says Heavy Duty, King Size Capacity, 3 speed motor with 6 speed combinations. Total Care System. The machine was purchased in fall of 2000. Not sure if it matters, only two of us live in the house. In fact for about 3 years one or both of us were out of town during the period.

The screeching noise only starts at the start of spin; it sounds very bad then goes down. The machine is stable, no rattling or shaking. We could hear normal sound when water is being added during final spins without any unusual noise. The clothes come out clean and fresh as usual.

We don't have a camcorder to video tape motion of the washer. Do I need to provide additional information?

Thank you again.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 5:31PM
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The full model number is one of the following. The model/serial tag is below the rear edge of the lid.

The varying last digit is the engineering revision .. minor changes in electrical or mechanical parts. No significant effect to operation of the machine but relevant to correct selection of some replacement parts.

The leading 110. indicates it was manufactured by Whirlpool.

Serial number CK27 indicates manufacture in the Clyde, OH facility, in the 27th week of 2000 which agrees with your reported purchase date (it was warehoused for a few months).

Anyway, diagnosing a problem from afar based on a noise one can't "audition" is a guess. Because you say the noise does not occur at the end of spin (during braking), the problem likely it related to the spin clutch. Possibly part of the lining has worn or broken loose which puts the metal clutch arm grinding on the drive bell during acceleration. The noise eases and stops as the spinning parts get up to synchronized speed. There are a few other possibilities related to the clutch and brake.

The clutch is not an expensive part, but access to replace it requires pulling the transmission (the clutch assembly mounts atop the transmission, under the tub). A reasonably experienced DIYer can do the repair, but I don't know what is your status on that. :-)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 12:34AM
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My neighbors Kenmore Elite recently did the same(or similar) thing. Just the two of them also and they have had theirs 6 years. They had Sears(A&E or whoever does their work) check it out and the tech said it was the transmission.

They just junked it and bought a new Samsung Top Load washer.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 12:59AM
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Transmission would not so much cause a "screaming" noise specifically at the start of spin. The transmission gears in a Whirlpool/Kenmore direct-drive machine as the OP owns run all the time that the motor is running. There is a bit of internal shifting between agitation, neutral drain, and spin to engage/disengage the respective functions.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 1:22AM
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You are correct, I found the model number at the location as you indicated; it is 110.20952992. I also found the serial number on the purchase receipt, it is CK2719494.

DH just came home from a trip. He too suspected it was clutch that caused the noise. He found the record that the clutch was replaced for the 2nd repair. At the time the parts cost below $40.00, if it stays close to the amount, it is way cheaper than purchasing a new machine. He found a couple of online YouTube videos showing how to replace a clutch. He would give it a try.

We sincerely thank you for your assistance and advice on this problem. We will follow up with the repair result.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 10:27AM
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Removing the transmission allows examination of the spin clutch on top of it, and the brake spring and release cam at bottom of the basket drive. Turn the tranny coupler (takes a LOT of turns) both directions to confirm agitation engages in one direction. Turning in the other direction, agitation disengages and the spin clutch bell rotates.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 2:21PM
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Homeowner just told me it was making a noise like the "gears couldnt get together". The tech told them transmission. Could have been something else and he just told them that thinking they know no difference. They bought the new one and she said she likes it--but also said "As long as clothes are wet and clean I could care less how it does it". She is not one that really gets into doing laundry.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 10:37PM
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Sparky823, assuming the machine of your neighbors' situation was a direct-drive Whirlpool-made Kenmore ... a broken drive coupler can make an alarming noise that may sound similar to gears slipping or grinding. The coupler (equivalent to a belt) is a $12 to $15 part and an experienced servicer can do the job in less than 15 mins. That being said, I can't accurately diagnose the situation from afar without more specific information on the symptoms. Seems their old machine has been taken out of action ... unless they still have it and you're interested in pursuing the case.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 11:06PM
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Dadoes, No I wasnt interested in it. I guess the guy who brought the new one carried it off with him. I didnt even ask them where they bought the new one, just know it is a Samsung. I was really surprised they got it checked out. Most time if they have anything stop working they just get a new one. Dont like to be bothered with making appt. for people to come out. Maybe they thought no older than it was they would have it checked? I didnt ask. I do know the one that broke was a direct drive Kenmore Elite around 6 years old. Really nice washer, not a cheap one.

Another neighbor has the Fisher/Paykel set. Top load dryer. They like both of them and have been well pleased so far.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 4:52AM
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Check with someone on regarding your problem with your machine. They can assist you.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 9:29AM
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Hello Dadoes,

Reparing was not going well...

After $45.00 for a new clutch, and 3 hours labor (good thing we are not in business) the washer sounds similar before DH replaced the clutch.

DH said it sounds the same, but to me the sound is different.

Before, it screamed sharply for a long while once entering the spin cycle. Now it gives a loud heavy metal banging sound first for a little while then starts screaming for a little while. It seems the screaming is much shorter and less sharp.

Should we do anything else, or wait until the washer dies then replace it?

Thank you in advance for the help.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 3:53PM
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Again, a video clip would help a lot with diagnosing from afar. Maybe you have a friend who could do it?

"loud heavy metal banging sound"

Next thing I'd suggest is check for a broken/worn basket drive block. Remove the agitator. Look at top of the neck of the basket. There's a large locknut that anchors the basket to the drive block. You can see only the top of the block, the rest of it is beneath inside the basket neck. The top of it has two notches that mate to ears on the spin drive tube. The block can wear such that it no longer fits tightly, slips on the ears. The ears on the drive tube can also wear down or chip, further contributing to the slippage. Pictures can now be included directly in posts here. Maybe you can provide a picture?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 8:03PM
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