In the name of all that is holy, let the nice lady clean you.
December 20, 2016 8:04 PM   Subscribe

The top panel of my washing machine appears to be rusted shut. Is there anything I can do to open it up without trashing it?

My husband and I bought a new house a few months ago, and our Maytag Performa washer (top loader) and dryer came with it. I wiped it out with white vinegar, ran a couple of hot cycles with bleach, etc, and noticed some rusting around the inside of the top panel, but I thought, eh, no big deal. Free washer, right? A few weeks later, I tried to wash a white comforter and discovered just how much grime I'd missed in my initial cleaning. I could see that the top of the tub/washer basket thing was pretty nasty. However, this washer's tub and top panel are put together in such a way that they're too close to get a hand, a rag, or even a narrow brush, in between them. I've tried, and it's impossible. I have to get the top panel up if I want to clean this thing.

I've looked online for tutorials in how to remove the top panel, and found this quick demo: (the top panel part starts at about 0:50).

It seems like an easy job to pop up the panel, but when I try it, I can hardly get a putty knife into the crack between the panel and the main washer cabinet. When I do manage to get it in there, I can feel and hear the little clasp thing clicking, so I know I'm hitting the right place. But the top won't budge.

In my subsequent putty knife-jabbings I noticed some crumbles of rust, but nothing apparent on the outside of the washer. Is it possible it's rusted shut? If so, is it possible to get the panel up without ruining it or resorting to a freaking crowbar (see also ruining it)?

Note: top panel means the whole top panel of the machine. The lid works fine, if that wasn't obvious -- but it does have rust around the edges, too. I'm not sure how old this washer is, but it could be at most 10 years old. It's a decent washer and we don't have enough disposable cash to buy a new one.
posted by pepper bird to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Best answer: Have you tried to find a operation or repair manual for your specific model of washer? It may not open in the same way as whatever model is shown in that Youtube demo. You may need to remove screws to take your top panel off.

It is unlikely that rust is preventing you from opening this.
posted by ssg at 9:10 PM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think this calls for more force. Here's what I'd try:

1. Get a hammer/mallet (wrap the hammer in a towel if you don't want to dent the washer) and give the whole edge of the top panel some solid whacks. If there is rust, this is likely to knock it loose.
2. Get a utility knife/razor blade, try to slip it in the gap between the panels, and see if there is rust/gunk there to cut away. Obviously don't cut through the clips holding it together.
3. Get a bigger lever, such as an extra-long screwdriver, and try prying the top panel off again.
posted by danceswithlight at 9:15 PM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you get the top off of it, make sure you investigate further down for rust. If there's rust on the tub, either outside or inside, you're probably not going to be able to save this washer (and considering the amount of rust you have I already have my doubts anyway.) In my experience, washers typically don't rust out like what you're describing, certainly not within 10 years. You may be looking for another washer. As you mentioned, you don't have the disposable cash for a new one so I would look used and keep an eye on craigslist (look for moving sales especially.) I hope you can get this thing fixed, but I'd be looking at whatever options fit in the budget for now.
posted by azpenguin at 10:03 PM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd take the putty knife and mallet and fit the knife into the crack all the way around the unit. You'll be encountering various rods and connectors but you should be able to feel your way around under there. Once you hit an obstacle that doesn't feel like a rod or one of those clips, use the danceswithlight method, #1, above.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:20 PM on December 20, 2016

(Percussive maintenance, I think they call it.)
posted by wenestvedt at 3:11 AM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Congratulations, you've discovered one of the joys of home ownership. But, seriously, congratulations on the new house.

As others have said, washers don't usually rust out within ten years, especially a good quality name such as Maytag. However, sometimes people do abuse washers in various ways, which could result in damage to the enamel, which can result in rust. There's also a possibility that it might be something dirty-but-not-rust, because occasionally people will put extremely dirty things in the washer that it isn't really able to handle. Take some time to inspect for any other damage that might have happened while you're in there.
posted by jgreco at 3:38 AM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

liberally-applied WD40 is specifically good for freeing rusty joints . . .
posted by aspersioncast at 11:23 AM on December 21, 2016

Everything ssg said in the first comment. You're doing it wrong.
posted by intermod at 7:02 PM on December 21, 2016

I'm not a professional, but I've done some major repairs on our old washing machine (and then had to disassemble it with a Sawzall for removal when it died and had to completely disassemble the new one to get it into the basement).

I'm think I'm familiar with the sensation you're having when trying to pry the lid up--there's a feeling of imminent breakage, right? You expect to push the clip in and just lift the lid and it feels like pushing too hard is going to break or dent something? Well, the putty knife doesn't "release" the clip; it just pushes it in so the indent on the clip doesn't lock to the bottom cabinet. There's still a D-shaped part of the spring clip that has to be forced out around the lip of the cabinet.

Get the putty knife in there to push the clip in, and go ahead and give it some force. Obviously you shouldn't have to figuratively jump up and down on it, but it takes a good firm shove to get the clips to come out.

Good luck!
posted by Ickster at 9:43 PM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I got so pissed at the thing that I gave up for the holidays. After much fortification (family visits, Christmas cookies, fudge, slightly tipsy handyman tip sharing [tipsy-sharing?]), I took another crack at looking for online help. Could only find the user manual I already had, and no service repair manuals for my model. I finally found another video that showed front panel removal first. Lo! it worked. Once I got that off, it was two bolts and some slight mallet banging, and the top came up.

It is disgusting inside, but not hopelessly rusty. Some corrosion inside the top panel edges, but mostly gunk and more solidified gunk. Am about to scrub the hell out of it and call it a day.

Thank you, Mefites!
posted by pepper bird at 6:50 PM on December 30, 2016

« Older Being kind to sore ankles?   |   Divorced alumni of Metafilter: help a freshman out Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.