Washing Machine: Boom!
April 1, 2009 6:34 PM   Subscribe

Was that a helicopter in my kitchen? No. It was the washing machine. Um. Help?

I was just sitting here reading MetaFilter and drinking some coffee when I heard a terrible noise downstairs. The washing machine was on its final spin cycle, but was bucking around the kitchen. I turned it off immediately, and looked inside to find the basket just sitting there - no longer centered - and hanging in a sad sort of not-right kind of way.

1. I'd like to know what's going on and how to proceed.
2. I need to know if this is something I can fix myself. And if not, what do I need to tell my repairman so that she can bring the right tools/parts to make it go again?


It wasn't overloaded. I was doing a light load. But there was a rug in there, which I am willing to bet was a little lopsided.

The washer model is a Whirlpool Heavy Duty Thin Twin. (Stacked washer/dryer combo.)
posted by greekphilosophy to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Best answer: Your load wasn't evenly distributed, and possibly that means you have broken a stabilizer doohickey that mitigates the WHOA a WHOA a WHOA a WHOA when the washer goes in to high gear. We just broke one of ones in ours. You can probably get the part and install it, the part will be labeled. All of the above uses technical terms where possible.
posted by iamabot at 6:37 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

When that happens to me, I just re-adjust the load and turn it on again and it always sorts itself out when the load is more properly balanced. Can you pull the basket/tub back to center?
posted by justlisa at 7:06 PM on April 1, 2009

Response by poster: It wont remain centered. I can move it around in there - up and down, side to side, and it spins...sorta.
posted by greekphilosophy at 7:09 PM on April 1, 2009

My old washer did this for a while and readjusting the load usually helped. Then one day the motor died, never to be revived, and the repairman we called said it would cost less to buy a new washer to repair our extremely old washer. YMMV...considerably.
posted by crinklebat at 7:09 PM on April 1, 2009

if I'm not mistaken, ours has some springs attached underneath the tub to keep it stabilized while operating. I'm talking about under where the motor and works are. If yours does too, one or more may have come disconnected.
posted by Taurid at 7:35 PM on April 1, 2009

Here's my take on appliance repair...

If you have the tools, and the guts, start taking it apart (unplug it first, always). There are three possibilities...

1. You'll easily find the problem, go to the local appliance repair parts store and buy what you need, and it will be fixed.

2. You'll get it apart and say "oh oh", and call a repairman, and he/she will fix it for you.

3. You'll make a mess of it and end up buying a new one.

I've found that 3 seldom happens, 2 happens sometimes, and 1 is a happy surprise but very affirming...
posted by HuronBob at 7:41 PM on April 1, 2009

Not only might the load be unbalanced, but the entire unit rests on feet that may need to be adjusted to level it. (An unbalanced load can upset these adjustments).
Get a carpenters level to check it as you adjust the feet.
posted by artdrectr at 8:11 PM on April 1, 2009

Drive belts might have fallen off, Usually the front panel comes off. I would start looking there.
posted by nuke3ae at 3:55 AM on April 2, 2009

Yeah, if the basket won't stay back in the center, something is broken. I don't remember what the inside of a washer looks like, but the suggestion of looking for broken springs sounds right. Some kind of mount that has broken or fallen off.
posted by gjc at 7:44 AM on April 2, 2009

On my mom's machine, the repair guy said it was a central bearing that broke, he could fix it for like 600 dollars, or she could buy a new machine.
posted by Max Power at 8:19 AM on April 2, 2009

Response by poster: Update on the washer for those who are curious or who have this same problem:

The shocks on Whirlpool Heavy Duty Thin Twins are apparently Bad. (That's with a capital B.) And no amount of babying them will save your machine from attempting to audition for the part of the helicopter in Miss Saigon.

The repairlady says she sees this all the time. So, CAVEAT WASHER!

Estimated repair costs: $189 for parts. $125 for labor.
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:27 AM on April 3, 2009

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