My partner's top-loading washing machine has slowly developed a leak. Like a lot of things, it happened slowly enough that at first he assumed it was water splashing out, and then just got used to not stepping on the wet spot on the floor.
I however, am also using the machine now, and I dislike wearing wet socks. Also, it's pretty obvious that there's a small leak somewhere inside the machine, near the front. So, this weekend's project was to open up the clothes washer and see what was going on.
These instructions are for a Whirlpool Ultimate Care II clothes washing machine with Quiet Wash. They might help you open another brand or model, but they might not. It seems like every model of washer is different.
Step 1: Know Your Machine
The first thing I realized here was that not all washing machines open up in the same way. After a decent while perusing the web, I figured out the combination of secret keys that would work for this model.
At a high level, most washers that look like this one seem to follow the same basic set of steps:
- Release the top control panel (somehow)
- Flip the panel back
- Tilt the main body cover forward
- Remove the main cover to reveal the internals
Step 2: Safety First!
There are a few safety steps you should do before touching any of the covers of your washer:
- Unplug the power cord
- Turn off the water valves that the hoses are connected to
- Get a friend if you might have trouble moving the washer or lifting heavy/large pieces
Great! You're unlikely to do damage to yourself or your home.
While not safety related, you should also label which water valve is which (hot/cold) before disconnecting things. This will make you life easier later. If you can't tell which is hot and which is cold, look behind the washer and mark whether the hose is connected to the top or the bottom.
Step 3: Prepare
- Phillips screw driver
- Flathead screw driver (or equivalent, sturdy item)
Optional Supplies (not shown):
- Small bucket (about 1 L is good)
- Paper towel
- Replacement water supply hoses
- Appliance sliders, or a friend
Step 4: Make Room
If your washer is tucked into a corner, you'll want to make some space to work around.
- Unplug the power cord for the washer (unless you already followed Step 2, good for you!)
- Turn off the water knobs and disconnect the hoses from either the washer or the tap, your choice. There will be some water left in the hoses, use the bucket to catch it.
- Remove your drain hose from the drain piping. The flexible hose from the washer is often held in place on the drain piping with wire or zip ties. You'll need to remove those before you can lift the hose out. Use the bucket to catch any water.
- Shimmy the washer back and forth to move it into the room and make space to work.
- Find a friend or put furniture sliders under the feet to make your life easier (or both)
Step 5: Open the Control Panel
This is the part that seems to be somewhat different depending on your make and model. If you have a different type of washer, hopefully you can find instructions online.
- On the left and right sides, on the back of the control panel, there is a screw that holds the panel to the main body cover. Remove this with your Phillips screwdriver.
- There is a plastic strip above the screw that connects the control panel to the black back panel. Make sure this is in good shape, it's your hinge.
- Standing in front of the washer, grab the control panel on the left and right sides, and pull it forward, then flip it back.
If you were looking for something to fix for a knob or control button, you might be able to stop here. For any water leaks, continue on.
Step 6: Release the Body
There are three pieces that need to be disconnected before you can remove the main body cover and reveal the internals of the washer: One cable connector and two clips.
- Find the cable connector that is attached to the metal top of the washer (not the cables going behind the top).
- Pinch the tab and pull it towards the front, or gently pry it out with a screwdriver to release the connector.
- There are two clips on either side of the top of the washer. You'll need a sturdy flathead screwdriver or something similar to release them.
- Insert the screwdriver into the tongue of the clip.
- Lever the tongue towards the front of the washer, you'll have to use some force. It will pop off quite vigorously.
Step 7: Remove the Main Body Cover
The main body cover is the nice white metal that you see on the outside of the washer, including the lid. It's one piece, and so reasonably heavy and awkward. You may want a friend to help lift it off.
- Grab the cover on either side, near the back (close to the control panel)
- Tilt the cover forward. If it seems like it's caught on something, check that the water dispenser is out of the way. Push it down gently if you need to.
- Lift the cover up and out of the way
Step 8: The Insides
See the photos for some help finding the part of the washer you need.
If water leaking is your problem, check that all the hoses are in good condition. You can try pouring a bucket of water into the tub to see if it is one of the lower hoses.
- Make sure the washer is unplugged, and the end of the drain hose has been lifted above the water level
- To drain the tub a bit once you're done, put the end of the drain hose in a short bucket. This will get some of the water out.
Other parts that might cause a water leak:
- Broken pump casing (see the photo)
- Cracked tub
- Too much splashing from the tub (unbalanced load, a problem with the motor, or something wrong with the water level sensor, or many other things)
- A loose connection on the supply hoses
- Water dispenser not lined up properly with the tub
Step 9: Reassembly
Reassembly is very similar to disassembly:
- When putting the main cover back, hook the front lip under the steel support frame first. Then tilt it backwards onto the other sides of the support. Make sure the water dispenser doesn't get caught up on the main cover. Reinstall the metal clips on top to hold the cover in place.
- Reconnect the cable connector at the control panel. Flip the control panel back down and fasten the screws at the back.
- Ensure your drain hose is still firmly connected at the back.
- Reconnect your hot and cold water hoses. Luckily, the manufacturer has figured that you might forget which one is which, and labelled them. This would be an excellent time to replace them with new hoses if you haven't done that in the last 5 years.
- Drape all your hoses and cords over the top of the washer so that you don't loose them and have to go fishing.
- Get your friend to help you shimmy the washer back in to place.
- Check that the washer is level. If it isn't, check if you can adjust the feet with a wrench, or shim something under the feet until it is.
- Place the drain hose back in it's home and zip-tie / wire it in place
- Reconnect the water hoses and turn on the water. Check for leaks.
- Plug in the washer.
- Run a test load of laundry, staying nearby to listen for any weird noises and look for leaks.