How to Fix a Washer That Won’t Agitate

Washer AgitatorA modern clothes washing mashing is a miraculous machine. It can take a load of filthy laundry and clean it to perfection. Modern clothes washers can dispense fancy detergents, run through a myriad of cycles, and perform all sort of extra features to make doing the laundry a more pleasant task. But what do you do when you have a washer that won’t agitate? Even if your laundry is working great in all other respects, a washer that won’t agitate won’t get your clothes clean. That’s because the mechanical action of the agitator is what it really takes to knock dirt and grime free of clothes fibers.

If you have a washer that won’t agitate, this guide will help you in understanding how to fix the problem. Read on for more details.

How to Fix a Washer That Won't Agitate

 Safety First

When working with any appliance, it’s always important to remember and follow a few basic safety tips. Although safety procedures can differ depending on appliance and situation, here are some safety basics.

Always make sure you have adequate space when working on your appliance. Pull it out away from the wall when necessary. Always make sure the appliance is unplugged before opening the cabinet or servicing interior parts. Make sure the appliance is cooled down and not hot before your work on it, and always wear appropriate clothing when working with tools and equipment.

Finally, if you don’t feel comfortable working in or around your washer, don’t be afraid to call in a professional who can help you solve your problem in a safe and efficient manner.

One: Agitator Assembly

First, check the agitator assembly itself. If your washing machine top loads, the agitator is driven by the output shaft of the washing machine transmission. Varying based on the make of the washing machine, the agitator may be a one piece or two piece mechanism. If a single piece agitator (or the lower portion of a dual agitator) does not move during a wash cycle, the connection between the agitator and output shaft may be damaged. This required replacement of the agitator assembly, and reconnection to the shaft.

Depending on your washing machine, agitator assemblies are often connected with a bolt that threads through the top of the transmission shaft. This bolt is usually located below the fabric softener dispenser cap. Other models use a screw in the body of the agitator to secure to the shaft. Others use rubber O-rings to create a tight fit to the shaft. Use your washing machine’s owner’s manual to determine how your agitator is attached, and remove it to assess the connection assembly.

Two: Direct Drive Motor Coupling

Some models of washing machines use a direct-drive motor coupling to transfer power from the motor to the transmission. The direct drive coupling attaches the motor to the transmission and consists of two drive forks with a rubber coupler between them. One of the forks is attached to the drive motor, and the other is attached to the transmission shaft.  Everyday use will create wear on the coupling and eventually the drive forks may not engage the transmission properly. A common symptom of a failing motor coupling is a washer that fills, drains, but will not agitate or spin.

In order to access the drive assembly, you will likely have to open the appliance cabinet. Make sure you disconnect power from the appliance and follow all safety tips as listed above before attempting to access the motor coupling.

Three: Agitator Coupler Agitator Cap

If your washer won’t agitate and you hear a tell-tale grinding noise, you should next check the agitator coupler and the cap and bolt. Some washing machine models use a coupler to create a connection between the transmission shaft and the washing machine agitator. Take off the agitator by pulling it straight up. Be careful, as the fit will be tight and it may require some work to release the close bond. With the agitator taken out, you can unthread the bolt that attached the coupling to the transmission shaft and remove the coupling. Before replacing the coupling, ensure that the connection points on the transmission shaft are clean and free of rust and grime.

Four: Lid Switch

One important safety function found in top loader washing machines is the switch on the lid. This lid switch prevents the washer from cycling through its steps if the lid is open, preventing injury and accident. The motor that controls the agitator will not operate if the switch is broken, resulting in a washer that won’t agitate. Disconnect the washer from its power source and examine the lid switch. It is a simple switch but can be prone to mechanical failure. If it looks physically intact, use a multimeter or Ohm meter to check for circuit continuity.

Five: Drive Belt

Some models of clothes washers have their transmissions driven by drive belts. If your washer isn’t agitating, one of the first components to check on should be the drive belt. Disconnect the washer from its power source, and remove the front panel to inspect the belts in the machine. They are often located at the bottom of the washing machine. A worn out drive belt will be visibly damaged or worn, or even smell like burning rubber. Check all surrounding pulleys tied into the belt, to be sure that they are not damaged or frozen in place.

Not Getting Anywhere?

If you’ve worked through this page and you’re still not getting anywhere, it may be time to call in the professionals. Modern appliances can be difficult to diagnose and troubleshoot, but a friendly and local washer repair technician will have the know-how and tools to handle your washer repair problem without a second thought.