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Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

Posted by terrydenise (My Page) on
Sat, May 12, 12 at 22:35

It's a whirlpool top load and 17 years old.
I checked the lid switch, water level switch and they are okay. I replaced the motor coupling. The old one was chewed up and crumbling.
When I put everything back together and turned it on to check if it would spin, I heard a buzzing sound and after a few minutes there was a burning smell.
What should I check to diagnose this problem?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

Couple possibilities thus far, based on the info provided --

1. The new drive coupler is not installed properly. Both halves (tranny side and motor side) must be pressed on so that the end of the drive shaft is flush with the surface of the coupler (inside the drive fingers).

2. Something (such as a sock or other small item) has gotten jammed into the pump. Pull the cabinet again, take the pump off the motor (just unclip it and turn it aside, no need to fully remove it from the two hoses). Jumper the the two outer pins on the lid switch connector under the console so you can run the machine with the cabinet off ... see if it does run. If so, investigate what's jamming the pump. I've seen cases of a sock going over the basket rim (due to overloading or being tossed up by a billowing sheet or some such) and jamming into the pump to the point there's no way to pull it out, requires replacement of the pump.

If neither of these, then you may have a jammed/broken transmission.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

The pump is clear and the motor coupling is on the shaft correctly.
Would a transmission problem be an expensive fix?
We've been unemployed with the cuts to the state education budget. First year teachers, fresh out of college, are all that are desired due to the price that is paid for no prior experience.
I have to be able to do the repairs myself.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

Would you please post the model number of your Whirlpool washer. It is difficult to reply to you without knowing for sure what you have. I am assuming that we are talking about a direct drive machine, but am not sure.

In any case, you need to get the cover off and observe the motor. If it is turning, then we move to the coupler or transmission. If the motor is not turning, we have to determine whether it is being caused by something in the drive system binding up or a burnt out motor.

Sorry about the difficulties you are having with your machine, as well as your employment status.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

Cost depends on what exactly is the problem. Further diagnosis is needed ... which is difficult for responders here to do via long distance. :-)

How did you determine that the pump is clear? Did you run the machine with the pump removed as I suggested ... or did you examine the pump directly? Or both?

Next step I suggest is remove the motor and run it off the transmission to check if the motor is jammed (if not then the transmission likely is the fault). Remember that the lid switch must be jumpered. Run it in spin first so as to avoid dealing with the water level switch. If you want to check both directions, you can run it in agitate direction by taking the pressure tube off the tub air dome and blowing into it to trigger the water level switch. Or, there may be a "dry agitate" increment on the timer ... sometimes at the final 2-min agitate mark in the Normal cycle, or at a marked spot (with a dot or asterisk) in one of the Off sections.

Check the transmission by turning the coupler by hand (with the motor removed). It should turn easily counterclockwise and the agitator should oscillate -- a lot of turns may be needed to shift the transmission internally into agitate mode until the agitator begins moving. It'll be harder to turn clockwise but it *should* turn ... the transmission will shift from agitate to spin mode, the brake will release (there'll be resistance, the brake cam is spring-loaded), then the clutch should turn and the basket rotate.

I could send some service docs to you, but you don't have an e-mail contact on your GardenWeb profile.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

Also, there is a "laundry room" forum.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

I changed my profile to show an email address.
The model number is LSR5233EQ. It is direct drive.
I checked the pump by turning it with a screwdriver and felt inside with my finger for clogs.
I took the motor off the machine and plugged it in and it started heating up. The shaft on the motor turns easily as does the coupler on the transmission and the agitator turns when the coupler is turned counter clockwise.
The transmission is humming when the timer is turned to spin. It doesn't agitate, I blew into the the water level hose while the timer was in position.
Thanks mojavean and dadoes for helping me so far.
I've been searching through Appliance Guru forums and went to Appliances when I got here instead of Laundry, sorry. Maybe the moderators will move this to the correct forum.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

Buy a new one. 17 years old is old. You will end up paying about 50% of a new one for repairs and then you still have a 17 year old appliance. A new one will pay for itself in utility savings.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

The model number is LSR5233EQ. It is direct drive.
Yes, a 17-years-old machine (it's a 1996 model-year per the E in the model number - the serial number tells the year and week of factory production) would have to be a direct-drive. Belt-drive production ended in 1986-1987. That's not quite a complete model number. There should be an engineering-change number following the Q -- a 0, 1, or 2. The number can be significant for proper parts selection.


I took the motor off the machine and plugged it in and it started heating up. The shaft on the motor turns easily as does the coupler on the transmission and the agitator turns when the coupler is turned counter clockwise.
I'm not understanding the reference to "heating up." The motor did or did not run while detached from the transmission? It did not run (did not rotate) and got hot instead? That may indicate a bad/shorted motor, or a bad capacitor (part number 8572717), or a bad motor start switch (where the wires attach, part number 62850). Your reference that the motor shaft does turn OK by hand at least indicates the motor isn't seized.


It doesn't agitate, I blew into the the water level hose while the timer was in position.

The transmission is humming when the timer is turned to spin.

I assume these references are all with the motor attached to the transmission. Per your reference that the transmission coupler does turn easily counterclockwise by hand and the agitator oscillates ... hopefully the tranny is OK. Did you try turning it clockwise to see if the brake releases and the basket rotates?


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RE: Repair costs

Per the comment above about cost of repairs being 50% of a new machine .... not necessarily ... depends what's involved.

A capacitor is $26. Motor start switch is $70 to $75. A motor $115 from at least one online source.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

With the motor disconnected from the transmission and the washer turned on and set to spin, the motor doesn't do anything, it just gets very hot to the touch and I can smell something burning. I haven't found what is burning or melting.
The brake releases and the drum turns. All this was done with the motor removed.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

LSR5233EQ1 . I finally found the complete number.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

As I said, motor non-start issues could be either the motor itself shorted-out, the capacitor bad, or the motor start switch.

The capacitor functions to give the motor a boost to get going. It stores an electric charge, releases it when current hits the motor to run. If the capacitor is dead, the motor will get current but won't receive the necessary "push" to turn over and thus remain stalled, the internal wiring will overheat. If left long enough (which typically is not more than 30 to 40 seconds), it should cut-out on its internal overheat protector, then try to run again when the protector cools.

The start switch functions to engage both the motor's start and run windings at first, then shuts off the start winding when the motor gets up to full speed. If the switch is bad, the start winding may not engage and the motor will try to get going on just the run winding, which it can't.

These components can be tested with a volt/ohm meter. I sent a service doc to the e-mail addy you provided which should help with your troubleshooting. If not familiar with electrical devices, try looking up some troubleshooting info online. There are even videos on YouTube detailing how to test and do some common repairs.

Oh, the timer could also be involved in motor troubles, as it sends current to the proper start and run windings to run the motor in either clockwise or counterclockwise direction. One of the troubleshooting steps is to confirm if current is reaching the proper terminals on the motor (from the timer) for either spin or agitate mode.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

My first suspect is the capacitor, you can check the motor out using an ohmeter and this or some other video on youtube.

Switch your ohmmeter to a higher setting, try 10K. Make sure the washer is unplugged. Disconnect the two leads to the capacitor. Using an insulated-handle screwdriver, again with this machine unplugged from the wall and the two leads off of the cap, short across the two terminals with the metal screwdriver blade. If it is holding a charge you will hear the snap of an arc.

Once the cap is discharged, take your ohmmeter with the dial set as described and touch your leads to the two terminals. You should see the needle or the numerical reading if digital, go up as you keep the leads on the two lugs. Now reverse the leads and do the same thing. You should see the ohms increase as the capacitor charges up.

If you see zero ohms across the lugs, the cap is open. Replace it. If you see zero or near zero ohms across the leads, then it's shorted. Capacitor should likely be replaced.

Use dadoes mailed service docs to help. Also, if the washer has a speed switch up top, move it from normal to delicate or vice versa, just to be sure something there isn't gooned.

Let us know how your investigations proceed, please, we are all pulling for you to fix your own washer so you do not have to starve! I have a soft spot for teachers and do not wish to see them hungry.


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Belay that

Typing too fast. If you see infinite ohms (no continuity at all) then the cap is open. Either way, Open or shorted, the cap is toast.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

I went to test the capacitor and found that the insulation on one of the wires is melted off of the plug that goes into the capacitor. It's the wire that goes up under the washer and to the timer.
I feel like I'm making progress now.
Should I go ahead and test the capacitor or the timer or does the melted wire tell what the problem is?


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

That wire will have to be traced back and examined all the way to the timer and replaced if the conductor is exposed or shorted. However, the wire itself is not likely the original problem, but a symptom of overcurrent. Granted, the problem could arise in the timer, but at this point, until you have eliminated the easy-to-check items, I would concentrate on the cap and motor.

Yes, please check the capacitor. There are videos available online describing how to do this if my instructions were not adequate. Also, use the video I linked to to check the motor windings. You can email me if any of this is unclear by simply using the link on my gardenweb profile.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

The start winding test is 8.8, high speed winding is 1.5, low speed winding is 2.7.
The capacitor is 0.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

So have you replaced the capacitor yet?


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

No, I haven't yet.
I'll have to wait for tomorrow. Two different people are getting the necessary parts for me.
I hope this works. Washing clothes by machine is much easier than by hand.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

Okay, I think that will fix it, though there are no guarantees. One thing is sure, there is no way the machine will run with a dead short across the cap.

Please be sure to tape up that wire with the melted insulation and trace it back under the tub to the console to ensure that there are no spots where exposed conductor can contact the frame of the machine.

When you test, you should see the motor start right up. If it doesn't, do not just let the machine sit there buzzing. That is what burned the wire in the first place. When you hear that things are not moving, pull out the timer knob, unplug the machine, or lift the lid so that you don't jack up any more wires.

Lastly, good luck! Be safe with those wires, unplug the machine before you fiddle with any of them, and please let us know when you get it running.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

I checked the wire and it was only broken where it blew out at the capacitor.
I always unplug the the washer before I start working on it. Thanks for the reminder. The family wouldn't be too entertained with smoke coming out my ears and my hair standing on end. But then again ...


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

Okay, now it fills, agitates and then, nothing.
No buzzing or burning odor.
I thought I had it fixed.
What do I test next?


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

I forgot about when I first filled the washer with water after getting the capacitor on.
It only had water in it, it agitated,I turned the timer to drain and spin and it started draining and spinning and so I told the spouse to put his clothes in and that's when it wouldn't drain or spin after agitating.
Did the extra weight of the clothes cause something to go wrong?


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

Well you have at least fixed one of your problems! Question: Do you have your lid switch hooked up? It must be closed or jumpered.

Does the pump work to drain the tub when the machine goes into spin? If the pump is emptying the tub it means that the motor is turning in the right direction and you have a mechanical issue, either the clutch or in the transmission itself. It is also possible that you have a buildup of dirt and detergent in-between the inner and outer tub that, combined with the weight of the clothes, can overcome the grip of the clutch.

Your job is going to be determining where such slippage is occurring. I suggest you contact me via my page on gw - just click my username - there is an email link there. If you email me I can mail you some links to documents to help you as well as get a better idea where things are slipping.


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Some videos to help you diagnose the failure

One more thing, there is a "neutral drain" sequence that engages after the agitate cycle. After agitation, the motor reverses direction and pumps the standing water out of the tub. Then the motor stops for 5 seconds and then restarts in the same direction. This disengages the neutral drain and engages the spin. Be sure to let the drain cycle complete prior to checking the spin.

There is a kind gentleman on the web named Angel Acevedo who has prepared a series of excellent videos that will help you find and repair the failure in the spin/agitate cycles. I am going to be tied up for the rest of the day with my family and won't be on the computer, however, if you view these videos they will give you a good idea of the way to diagnose where the problem lies. The clutch is the first suspect, and if not that, it is the gearbox, assuming the motor is turning, which it should be now that you have fixed the cap.

To check the clutch, I suggest this video.

It shows how to replace the clutch if it proves bad.

If the clutch is good, or you see no drive going to the clutch, then the problem is in the transmission itself. There is a repair procedure to fix a rather common failure mode in this transmission, but it involves having to tap and drill out a (presumably) busted stud. The kit is cheap, but you have to open the case, not a whole lot of fun unless you want to learn how the gearbox works. It is really not too complicated, but it IS messy.

The good news is you can get refurb transmissions, complete and guaranteed, on ebay for under a hundred bucks. There's a used one for 35 bucks. But I would suspect the clutch first, check that, before moving on to the gearbox.


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RE: Washer fills but won't agitate, drain or spin

I was up until 1:00 AM fighting with this washer.
I filled the washer to the low level and put it on the quick wash cycle and it did everything right, then on the next load of wash it wouldn't advance on to the next function after agitating unless I moved the dial around to another speed.
Today it has been working more like it is supposed to. I'm very weary of trusting it. I was thinking the timer was going to have to be replaced but I'll give it a few days.
Thanks mojavean for your help. If it starts misbehaving again I'll contact you for the clutch and transmission information. I'm not afraid to get dirty if I can learn something in the process.
A million thanks to you and dadoes too.


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