Top Load Washing Machine Not Agitating? 5 Easy Repairs to Try First

When my Kenmore 600 series washing machine wouldn’t agitate recently, I spent about a week searching the ‘net for a DIY repair guide. What I found were a lot of complicated instructions for diagnosing the problem. Rather than tear into the washing machine and making a mess of things, I ended up calling the Sear’s Repair shop and paid a $130 service call for a repair that took the technician all of 15 seconds to fix.

If your top loading washing machine won’t agitate after the drum fills with water, you might be able to save yourself an expensive service call by trying these 5 repairs first.

Is it plugged in?
Moving appliances do unplug themselves and even a tiny slip of the plug can cause a machine to stop. If your washing machine has stopped suddenly, pull out the plug and reinsert it into the outlet.

Is the control knob in the right position?
Another problem I’ve encountered in the past is a control knob that mysteriously switches to off. Checking the control knobs (pulling them in & out, switching to a different cycle) may solve the problem.

Is the drum balanced?
A drum that’s off balance will also stop a washing machine from agitating. To test for balance, open the lid to the machine and peer inside. A drum that is balanced will line up neatly with the opening. If the drum rests at an angle, repack the clothes so that the weight is evenly balanced.

Check the drum balance once the machine is empty. If it’s still off balance, try shimming up the low side by placing a piece of wood beneath the machine. Improper balance is a common problem in older homes where the floors tend to slope.

Is the lid closed?
Newer machines won’t agitate unless the lid is fully closed. If the inside of the lid tray is filled with gunk, use a damp washcloth to wipe away the build up of debris around the inside rim. Be sure to clean in around the hinges as well using a dry toothbrush to knock away lint.

Is the lid switch loose?
This was the culprit with my machine and according to the repairman, a very common problem in all top loading machines. What on-line repair manuals don’t tell us is that the switch that progresses our machine machines from “fill” to “agitate” is located in the hinges of the lid. The banging around of a washing machine can cause this switch to loosen.

Fixing the problem is a two step process. Using a screwdriver, tighten the lid screws (there are two on each side of the lid). Next, use a small crescent wrench or a pair of pliers to tighten the white plastic washer-like ring found at the base of the lid (there’s one on each side). This should solve the problem of a machine which won’t progress to agitate once the drum has filled with water.

More by this contributor:
No electricity? 5 things to check first.
How to load a washing machine the right way.
How to save money and energy in the laundry room

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