How to Fix a Washer That Won’t Agitate

How to Fix a Washer That Won’t Agitate

Washing machines are an indispensable part of our everyday lives, and they handle a lot of work in the house. But a washing machine can’t get the job done if it can’t agitate, no matter how much soap and water you put in. If your washer isn’t working, and you want to know how to fix a washer that won’t agitate, this helpful guide will be your best friend.

How to Fix a Washer That Won't Agitate

What to Look for In a Washer That Won’t Agitate

There are many interrelated components that create the agitation in a clothes washer. Check all of these components and elements to understand why your washer won’t agitate.

Agitator Assembly

First, check the agitator itself. If your washing machine is a top loader, the agitator works to physically move clothes through the soapy water. It is driven by the output shaft of the transmission. Depending on the make and model of the washing machine, the agitator may be a one piece or two piece mechanism. If a single piece agitator (or the lower portion of a dual agitator) does not move at all during the wash cycle, the connection between the agitator and output shaft may be damaged. This required replacement of the agitator assembly, and reconnection to the shaft.

Most agitator assemblies are held in place with a bolt that threads through the top of the transmission shaft. This bolt is usually located below the softener dispenser lid. Other models use a set screw in the body of the agitator to secure to the shaft. Still, others rely on rubber O-rings to create a tight fit to the shaft. Use your manual to determine how your agitator is attached, and remove it to assess the connection to the shaft.

Agitator Coupler & Cap

If your washer won’t agitate and is making a grinding noise, you should next check the agitator coupler and the cap and bolt. Some models use a coupler to create the connection between the transmission shaft and the agitator. You can remove the agitator by pulling it straight up. Be careful, as the fit will be tight and it may require some effort to release the bond. With the agitator out of place, you can unthread the bolt that attached the coupling to the transmission shaft and remove the coupling itself. Before replacing the coupling, ensure that the connection points on the transmission shaft are clean and free of rust and grime.

Agitator Directional Cogs

If your washing machine is equipped with a dual action agitator (as described above), it is possible that the upper portion can become disconnected from the bottom portion. The upper portion moves based on action from the lower portion, and they are connected together with plastic cogs, like the action of two gears. If these cogs wear out or break, the bottom may move while the top does not. A telltale sign of this problem is a grating sound during operation.

As with the above step, remove the softener dispenser cover to disassemble the agitator assembly. Examining the inside should allow you to see if the cogs are worn out or not.

Direct Drive Motor Coupling

Some makes and models of top load washers use a direct drive motor coupling to transfer power from the motor to the transmission. The drive coupling attaches the motor to the transmission and consists of two drive forks with a rubber coupling between them. One of the forks is attached to the drive motor, and the other is attached to the transmission shaft.  Everyday use will create wear on the coupling and eventually the drive forks may not engage the transmission properly. A common symptom of a failing motor coupling is a washer that fills, drains, but will not agitate or spin. In order to access the drive assembly, you will likely have to open the appliance cabinet. Make sure you disconnect power from the appliance before attempting to access the motor coupling.

Drive Belt

Many makes and models of washers use a belt to drive transmission. If your washer won’t agitate, one of the first elements to check should be the drive belt. Disconnect the washer from its power source, and remove the front panel to inspect the belts in the machine. They are often located at the bottom of the washing machine, and a worn out belt will be visibly damaged or worn, or smell like burning rubber. Check all surrounding pulleys tied into the belt, to be sure that they are damaged or frozen in place.

Lid Switch

An important safety feature found in top load washing machines is the lid switch. This switch prevents the washer from cycling through its steps if the lid is open. The motor in control of the agitator will not operate if the switch is broken, resulting in a washer that won’t agitate. Disconnect the washer from its power source and examine the lid switch. It is a simple switch but can be prone to mechanical failure. If it looks physically intact, use a multimeter or Ohm meter to check for circuit continuity.

We hope this guide helped you repair your washing machine. If you still need help, give us a call.