Washing Machine repair: Can a mere mortal change a door gasket?
June 10, 2013 10:43 PM   Subscribe

Do I dare try replacing the door gasket on my frontload washing machine? Photo of damaged gasket. It's not supposed to look like a ruffle. It's supposed to be smooth. The damaged occurred when I was washing a duvet cover and sheets. The load became very unbalanced and the machine leapt and jumped. Has anyone ordered the part and done a successful DIY repair? Or should I pay a service tech? The machine is a Maytag MHWE200XW00. It looks like we could get the gasket shipped for about $120.
posted by valannc to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
I'm sure a reasonably competent handyperson could do this, but it's all about how comfortable you would feel. Have a tech install it if you don't feel ready for this.
posted by dhartung at 1:54 AM on June 11, 2013

My father owned an appliance repair business so i should tell you to get a repair person. But if you google "maytag washer seal replacement diy" a variety of options come up, including diy youtube videos. As dhartung says, if you feel confident, give it a go! There is not much damage you can do and it doesn't work out, you can call a repair man.
posted by Kerasia at 1:58 AM on June 11, 2013

Same part number is considerably cheaper on eBay.
posted by jon1270 at 2:28 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You could probably do it, but on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being say, installing a PCI card in a desktop computer, and 10 being like... repairing a watch, i'd put this at something like a 5. For what it's worth, i'd rate replacing the fuel pump on my car as a 4 on this scale.

Me, a friend, and another friends dad melted some serious time getting one of these on. And all of us are the kind of people who do our own small-moderate car repair, repair laptops/cellphones, and just generally tinker with things. A 9/10 difficulty on ifixit is usually a "eh, ok" to me and i found this irritating. It actually reached a point where we were calling other tinkerer type people we knew and asking them what they thought. We actually gave up the first time and it wasn't until my friend tried again the next day that he actually got it.

It's not actually hard per se, just annoying. IIRC it was mostly a "you need 3 hands" type of problem than something where you need a lot of technical expertise or to deal with disconnecting or moving a bunch of tiny parts in a specific order.

Have you ever tried to put the lid on a big tupperware/rubbermaid type box where you get one side on and another corner pops up? that kind of thing, combined with the fact that it's in an awkward location and position.

Honestly though, i'd say watch some youtube videos and go for it. Especially after screwing around with it before, it's not something i'd ever pay someone to do.
posted by emptythought at 2:51 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are you sure it isn't misaligned, and can't be fixed with some tugging?
posted by SillyShepherd at 3:00 AM on June 11, 2013

If that were my washing machine, I'd be taking it apart and checking whether the existing seal is merely tugged out of place, rather than torn, before ordering a replacement. Absolute worst case outcome: you go from having a non-working washer to having a non-working partially disassembled washer. If you do end up calling in a tech, this will make no difference. Best case outcome: you fix your washer without spending a cent.
posted by flabdablet at 4:44 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I replaced mine by following a YouTube video of a gasket replacement of a model very similar, but not identical, to mine. [A parts supplier has a number of such videos online. I would link to them but YouTube is blocked at work.] The process involved taking the front of the washer off, which seems daunting but really just involves removing some screws. Getting the spring clamps back on the gasket was the most difficult part and required a fair amount of strength without access to a specialize tool that cost about $60. Before you decide if you want to tackle this yourself, figure out how the gasket is held in place and whether you think you can replace the clamps without a special too, if one is required.
posted by probablysteve at 6:45 AM on June 11, 2013

Best answer: This video helped me remove and replace my own seal to get inside and solve a different problem. It will help you decide whether or not this is a job for you. Obviously some details will be different for getting the front off a Maytag but it's generally just a case of unscrewing stuff.

I didn't need a tool to remove either retaining spring, just carefully prised the front one off using a screwdriver and didn't need anything for the rear spring - I copied what he did in the video.

I used the screwdriver again as a lever to help get the retaining springs back on. You obviously need to take care not to damage the seal when doing this.

It's faffy but just needs patience more than anything.
posted by dowcrag at 7:01 AM on June 11, 2013

Also, before you order a new one try taking the old one off. It looks like it just got misaligned as SillyShepherd says above. You've got nothing to lose:

- if it's just misaligned you saved yourself $135

- if it IS broken you've got a spare to practice on before you fit the new one.
posted by dowcrag at 7:03 AM on June 11, 2013

Seconding, well, basically everyone. Hubby and I replaced a similar gasket and it was fairly difficult, mostly getting the spring clamps back on. Definitely ponder those springs before you remove them! If you're not confident you can get them back on, you might as well call a repair tech and save yourself the aggravation.

This is a project for the confident handy person with a fair bit of tinkering experience and decent upper body strength (I mean typical adult male, not Olympic weightlifter). Allow more time than you think for this project, and have a friend around since you'll probably need 3 or 4 hands occasionally. And first see if you can't just tug the existing gasket back into shape. Good luck!
posted by Quietgal at 7:09 AM on June 11, 2013

Response by poster: OP here. Thanks for all these replies. Many great suggestions. We will watch DIY videos and decide.

Husband ran a test wash, watching for leaks. There were no leaks. So maybe the gasket is still good and needs to be re-fitted.

I'll report back when we have something to tell.
posted by valannc at 7:17 AM on June 11, 2013

Response by poster: OP final report.

We opted to call a repair service. It turns out the machine had internal damage from a seriously unbalanced load that caused the machine to jump around. He showed us that the fill sensor and a shock absorber were damaged from getting knocked by the drum. After the new parts were installed, we had a leak. Guy came back and identified a hairline crack on a hose. It took three visits and $400.

The door gasket was ok. He re-seated it.

Damage was caused by something stupid: I loaded a queen-sized duvet cover, sheet, and several pillowcases. The duvet cover was un-buttoned. During washing, the sheet and pillowcases climbed into the duvet cover, and it all formed one big cotton bowling ball. The bowling ball caused the spinning drum to swing off course and damage internal parts.

I liked the repair guy and would use him again. (Neil at Fremont Appliance in Seattle). He was knowledgeable, and he was prompt and cheerful about warrantying his work.

I wish this Maytag had an automatic shutoff for when the load is unbalanced. I'm going to research this matter. I'm going to be careful with this machine from now on. I'm not going to run the machine when no one is home.
posted by valannc at 3:33 PM on June 26, 2013

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