Tag Archives: Washing Machine

Washing Machine Troubleshooting

Oh, the things I’ll do to save a buck.  Courtney and I bought a washer/dryer combo last April from a used appliance place in the nearby town.  The prices were great, but now it is not working. And it gets better, the guys who sold me the machine won’t return my phone calls.  I’d love to go down there and let them know what  a great job they are doing, but I’m not really the confrontational type.  Instead, I’m fixing this myself and telling the world, so that we can all be independent of those unhelpful, fly-by-night sales guys with their “warranties”.

I’ve had trouble locating resources on how to fix, so I’m writing this to help others.  We have a Whirlpool Ultimate Care II, which I think was a late 1990’s model.  The problem was that we had standing water in our washing machine.  It stopped working mid-way through a cycle.  The timer ran it’s course, though and was in the off position. Pulling out the start button yielded a bunch of clicking and buzzing, so I suspected that I needed a new timer mechanism.

A local appliance parts guy was very nice and helpful and talked me though the troubleshooting.  He wanted to save me a few bucks, because the timer was a $75 part.  That is nearly what I have in to this machine, by the way.  I think we only paid $260 for the washer-dryer pair.

Steps in troubleshooting the timer:

1. Verify that the pump isn’t jammed.  To do this, pull the drain hose out of the wall and lower it into a bucket.  If water flows freely into the bucket, then the pump is likely working and not jammed/frozen.

2. Inspect the wiring harnesses to be sure a mouse didn’t chew through wires, or that something wasn’t exposed to vibrations, wearing through a wire to cause an electrical short.

3. Verify proper operation of the lid latch button.  This is the button that the lid presses on to let the washing machine know that the lid is closed.  It should stop operating while the lid is open.  There is a pretty complex way of removing the outer sheet metal to inspect/replace this button.  I bypassed this step because we found our washer with the timer in the Off position.  That tells me that the timer kept going after the problem occurred.  If the lid latch was sending an open (meaning, stop) signal, the timer should have stopped in mid-cycle too.

In the end, I found a timer on eBay for $39 delivered.  It arrived in three days. I was so proud of myself.  I slapped that new timer in and … nothing!  I was wrong.  The timer did sound better than the old one, but the machine still didn’t work.

Frustrated, I turned the machine upside down again.  It was at this point that I decided to take the hoses off of the water pump and stick my fingers inside.  I wanted to verify that the impeller was spinning freely.  I imagined that water would still flow through the pump if it was frozen, so I could have gotten a false-positive on troubleshooting step one.  Much to my surprise, I felt something different, and pulled it out.  It was a tiny little pink sock to fit our four month old bundle of joy.  I put everything back together and the machine has worked just fine for several laundry loads now.

I should now add something to troubleshooting step one: water should come rushing out, rather than trickling out.  I was filling the bucket at a rate of one gallon per minute, and it should have been more like three gallons in thirty seconds.

Yes, I’m officially an appliance repair guy educated in the school of hard knocks.  Does anyone need washing machine timer P/N 3953553?  I’ll make you a deal!

Thanks, Robert.

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