Help me Diagnose my Broken Washing Machine

My washer won’t spin. It just suddenly stopped and when I found it, there was a burning rubber smell emanating from it. Thinking it was the belt, I opened my machine.

When I popped open the front panel, I noticed that one part was particularly hot. It was radiating heat. It’s the brown heatsink-looking like thing in the picture below.

Dopers … what is that brown thing? Is that the motor, transmission, or something else? And what’s wrong with my washing machine? I checked the belt already, and it isn’t broken, and it looks to be in place.


It’s part of the motor, you can see the windings, the whole thing probably needs to replaced as a single unit.

Make: GE; model: WDSR2080DAWW

And Fudge. Is replacing the motor expensive?

I’m going on my own experience as a consumer, I lack the technical expertise to give a guaranteed factual answer. I ***hope ***somebody comes along and contradicts me…
Having said that – I don’t know for sure whether that’s the motor, but the burning smell tells me it probably is. Basically, either something gunked up the shaft on the drum, or your belt went (neither of which would be a huge problem on their own), but then the motor either spun out of control (belt torn, no resistance) or tried to spin the drum against *too much *resistance (stuck shaft).

Sorry, but I’m afraid your motor is probably FUBAR. :frowning: Still hope I’m wrong

Sometimes, no, your’s…yes.

It’s about $300. You need to make sure it’s the motor before buying this. That’s an expensive part and if the washing machine is more then 5 years old or so it may be worth it just buy a new one, I mean, your pretty much there with this part (or half way there depending on what you buy).

Can you spin the drum freely or is to frozen in place? I’m guessing it’s stuck. Take the belt off. It should spin freely (at least in one direction, the tranny probably has it locked). Now, with the belt off, can you spin the motor. If you can’t, the motor is shot. If you can, the motor is probably good.
Start there, if the motor spins freely, we can keep troubleshooting (but I’m guessing it won’t).

Great! Will do. One question: how do I remove the belt if it’s not broken?

And how do I spin the motor? Or do you mean spin the drum?

The same way you would do it if you were replacing the motor. It’s probably just going to take some muscle. There may also be a tensioner in there somewhere. A spring-loaded pulley designed to keep tension on the belt as it wears out and stretches. You can push it back in to create some slack.

Also, if you do replace any parts on this machine, take a look at the condition of the belt, if it even looks like it’s starting to age, now is the time to replace the $5 part. Hell, if the machine is more then a few years old, for $5 I’d replace it anyways. Might as well do it now then have to take it all apart again in a few years.

the brown “heatsink looking thing” is the stack of iron laminations which make up the motor’s stator poles. I would expect them to be warm-to-hot during normal use, but if they’re really hot then the motor is overloaded. What do you see if you watch the motor while trying to operate the machine?

it’s an induction motor, there’s no such thing as “spin out of control.” The maximum speed is dictated by AC line frequency divided by the number of active poles, minus slip. an unloaded induction motor will happily sit there running at a constant speed all day long.

I think this is what’s going on, but the “burning rubber” smell could be coming from the belt slipping on the pulley. It’s pretty hard to kill an induction motor.

Looks like I’ll have to tilt the washing machine at a 45 degree angle to access the belt, which is located on the bottom of the machine.

Well, hopefully I don’t lose any toes!

That’s a good point. Not much rubber inside a motor.
It probably is just a bad belt. They don’t always look bad, but if you touch the inside of it, I’ll bet it’s greasy/slick and gets a bunch of crap (residue from burning) on your hand.

Before you go tilting that machine around, did you try turning the drum?

Of course, since I’m betting on the belt at this point, it’s going to need to come off anyways.

Before removing he belt, take a few pictures. Sometimes tensioner pulleys go a certain way and it may not be obvious/intuitive. Having a picture or three can be a lifesaver.

It should be difficult to turn the drum with the machine off, as the brake will probably be engaged.

You may find it cheaper to replace the whole thing. My last washing machine cost me less than £200.

That’s why it was just the first part of the troubleshooting flowchart. It depends on the machine. On mine, I can turn it (in one direction only) with the machine off. If it didn’t turn, the next step was to have him disengage the motor from the rest of the unit and attempt to turn it by hand. It should freewheel. If it doesn’t there’s likely a problem with it. Assuming it does easily spin by hand, then we start moving forward, towards the drum. Next, and most likely culprit…the belt.

My money is on the belt. It’s cheap, designed to break first and you can pick it up locally somewhere.

With the belt off…just grab the pulley and turn it. It’ll either spin nice and freely or it won’t. You’ll be able to tell the difference.

Mine once got a sock wedged between the drum and the housing, the whole thing was lodged and burning belt smell filled the basement.

Again, see if you can turn the drum by hand.

All right … I never got around to tilting the machine up to access the belt …

Because I checked the belt, and ran my hands along both sides of it, and I didn’t get any greasy black residue on my hand. The belt seems OK. I know I should probably replace it anyway, but if it ain’t broke, I ain’t gonna do anything about it just now (especially since I’m on the edge of just buying a new washer).

I did try running the washer again, and it ran normally. It filled with water, agitated, drained, but then it stopped.

It wouldn’t spin. This was the original problem with it. It would drain but it wouldn’t perform the final spin.

I know that if the washer doesn’t spin it’s likely the lid sensor or the water level sensor, but I’ve checked both.

What now?

A)Are you sure you didn’t bump any wires?
B)Do you have the panels all put back together (in case there’s another sensor)?
C)Sounds like it’s all back to normal, might have just been an odd one time thing.
D)Are you SURE you didn’t bump anything? It would be a very strange coincidence that you were doing something inside the machine and then right when it needs to to something that requires a sensor to be tripped, it stops working.

Wait, I thought the original problem was the burning smell? Is it doing that again? Is the motor making any sound? Is the motor heating up?
This is where it gets important…

We need to know where the drivetrain is stopped…
Does the motor heat up?*
Does the motor spin?
Does the belt spin?
Does the drum spin? (we know it doesn’t)

*I’d rather know if it’s getting power, do you have a AC tester? Otherwise, let it cool from the previous cycle, turn it back on and see if it heats, unless it spins, then just move on to the next step.

The more info you get us the better, it’s hard to diagnose things over the internet. Sounds, smells, vibrations anything, even if it doesn’t seem important.
FTR, I do like troubleshooting, keep tossing the info at me, I’ll do what I can with it and I know we have some other people on the board that can help to.

I had a washer once that would stop at the spin cycle. If I bumped the knob forward one “click” it would spin and finish its cycle. So, rather than replace the control I just checked the machine periodically and advanced it when it went dormant.

Then I sold the house, washer and dryer included. Years later I remembered about the messed up washer, and realized the buyer probably was a bit pissed off at me.