Washer Common Questions

file

These common questions about top-load and front-toad washers are the ones our experts hear most often from our customers.

You might also find the help you need by checking the common symptoms and solutions for washing machines.

When you’re ready to replace a part in your washer, searspartsdirect.com has the replacement part you need, no matter where you bought your washer or what brand it is.

Why won't my top-load washer rinse the load?

Many top-load washers won’t drain and spin if the lid isn't locked. If the lid is closed and your washer still doesn't progress to the rinse cycle, the lid switch could be broken. Check whether the lid switch works and replace the lid switch if it's broken.

Do I have a direct-drive washer or a vertical modular washer (VMW)?

Here's an easy way to tell what technology drives your washing machine:

  • If you have a vertical modular washer (VMW), the lid is locked during the entire wash cycle. VMWs have a super-high-speed spin cycle that extracts more water from the load than a regular spin speed; the lid stays locked to protect you from the fast-spinning parts.

  • If you have a direct-drive washer (other than a Kenmore Oasis or Whirlpool Cabrio), the lid doesn't lock during the wash cycle. Instead, the washer shuts off if you open the lid.

Until 2010, Kenmore, Whirlpool and Maytag sold basic top-load, direct-drive washers that used a transmission to drive the agitator and spin the basket. In 2010, these brands replaced that drive system with the vertical modular drive system, which uses a belt to drive the agitator and spin the basket.

What does the F21 code mean on my Kenmore HE2 washer?

On a Kenmore HE2 washer, the F21 code means that water isn't draining from the washer as it should. Remove any clogs from the washer drain and remove kinks or clogs from the washer drain hose. If the drain path is clear, unplug the washer and access the drain pump, as explained in our step-by-step repair guide How to Replace the Drain Pump on a Front-Load Washer. Clear any debris from the drain pump. If the drain pump is defective, replace it.

What does the F11 error code mean on my Kenmore HE washer?

On a Kenmore HE washer, the F11 code indicates that the central control unit (main control board) at the top of the washer isn’t communicating with the motor control board at the bottom of the washer next to the drive motor. Unplug the washer and check the wiring connections between the central control unit and the motor control board.

A problem with the door lock assembly could also cause the F11 code. Check the wiring connections between the door lock assembly and the central control unit. If the wiring connections are okay, you might need to replace the door lock assembly, the main control board or the motor control board.

What does the F1 error code mean on my Kenmore Oasis washer?

On a Kenmore Oasis washer, the F1 error code means that the water level sensor isn't working correctly. That water level sensor is a component on the electronic control board in the control console of the washer. Unplug the washer and replace the electronic control board to fix this problem. If you still have problems after replacing the electronic control board, see our washer repair help for more tips on fixing your washer.

Why does my front-load washer vibrate so much during the spin cycle?

If the washer isn’t leveled and stable, it will vibrate during the high-speed spin cycle. Push down on diagonally opposite corners of the washer to check for any wobble. If the washer rocks even slightly, adjust the leveling feet to eliminate any play.

If the washer is newly installed, make sure that the shipping bolts were removed.

If the problem persists, the suspension system or the spin bearing might be at fault. Contact a service technician to examine the washer and make the repair.

Why does my top-load washer fill but then stop without washing the clothes?

With some top-load washers, the drive motor won’t start if the lid switch is open. Check the lid switch and replace the lid switch if it's broken.

A washer won’t agitate if the water level pressure switch, the drive motor, or the timer malfunctions. Call a service technician to examine the washer and make the repair.

What should I do if my top-load washer won’t start and the lid lock light is blinking?

On current Kenmore top-load washers, a blinking lid lock usually signals a failure in the lid switch/lock assembly or other components. The tech sheet for the washer includes diagnostic tests and washer error codes to help you find the failed component. You can find the tech sheet attached to either the back of the washer or to the inner wall of the washer cabinet.

Can I use regular laundry detergent in my HE washer?

Don’t use regular laundry detergent in a high-efficiency (HE) washer. Because HE washers use less water than regular washers, using regular detergent in an HE washer causes excessive suds. The excessive suds prevent the drain pump from draining the water properly; suds residue remains in the tub and causes odors. Only use HE detergent in a high-efficiency washer.

Why does my washer smell bad?

Front-load washers can develop a musty odor because the door opening is tightly sealed to prevent leaks. If possible, leave the washer door open when you’re not doing wash, which lets air circulate and helps prevent mold in the washer.

Clean the washer according to the guidelines in your washer owner’s manual to eliminate and prevent mold.

Why is my washer leaking from under the washer?

If water leaks from under the washer, unplug the washer and check whether the drain pump or drain line leaks. Replace a leaking pump or drain hose.

In a front-load washer, a hole or tear in the rubber door boot can cause water to leak from under the washer. Check the door boot and replace the door boot if it's damaged.

Why does my washer fill with water when it’s turned off?

A defective water inlet valve assembly can allow water to enter the washer when the washer is turned off. Unplug the washer to completely disconnect electrical power. If the washer continues to fill, replace the water inlet valve assembly.

If the washer stops filling when disconnected from electrical power, a problem with the timer or the electronic control board is causing the washer to fill when turned off.

How is HE laundry detergent different from regular laundry detergent?

High-efficiency (HE) laundry detergent produces less suds than standard laundry detergent. HE detergent is specifically designed for use in HE washers, which use less water than standard washers. Excessive suds can cause problems such as soap residue remaining on clothes and washer odors from suds residue remaining in the washer tub.

Why is there water in my front-load washer detergent dispenser?

On many front-load washers, it's normal to see water left in the liquid detergent dispenser cup after the cycle finishes. To dispense detergent, the control floods the dispenser cup with water. Most of the time, the remaining liquid detergent and water siphon out of the detergent cup through a standpipe. After the cycle, you may see about an inch of water left in the dispenser cup. A small amount of water left in the dispenser cup won't cause damage to the washer or laundry.

On LG washers and Kenmore washers that begin with model number 796, you can remove the standpipe cap and cut a 1/4-inch V-shaped notch in the main detergent cup standpipe and then replace the standpipe cap. This notch helps water siphon from the main detergent dispenser cup. After cutting the notch, hardly any water remains in the dispenser cup after the cycle.

Why does my LG front-load washer turn back on after the final spin cycle?

A shorted or grounded heating element or a defective electronic control board could cause this problem. Unplug the washer and check the heating element for continuity using a multimeter. Here's a video that shows you how to check continuity through appliance parts. You should measure between 10 and 30 ohms through the element. Replace the heating element if the resistance is out of this range. Also, check for resistance between the heating element and the metal frame of the washer. It should measure infinite resistance.

If you measure resistance during this test, replace the heating element because it's grounding to the washer's metal frame. If the heating element is okay, you'll likely need to replace the electronic control board.

Why does my Kenmore 796 series front-load washer turn back on by itself after the cycle finishes?

A shorted or grounded heating element or a defective electronic control board could cause this problem. When a defective heating element grounds to the metal cabinet, interference caused by that short circuit can cause the electronic control board to mistakenly power up the washer. A defective electronic control board could also have a stuck relay that constantly powers up the washer.

To determine which component failed–the heating element or the electronic control board—first check the heating element by unplugging the washer and testing the heating element for continuity using a multimeter. You should measure between 10 and 30 ohms through the element. Replace the heating element if the resistance is out of this range.

Also, check for resistance between the heating element and the metal frame of the washer. You should measure infinite resistance. If you measure resistance during this test, replace the heating element because it's grounding to the washer's metal frame. If the heating element is okay, you'll likely need to replace the electronic control board.

What does Lt mean on my Kenmore top-load washer?

On top-load Kenmore VMW washers, Lt indicates that your washer is in the Endless Test mode. To exit the Endless Test mode, unplug the washer and plug it back in. Turn the dial knob 1 click left, 3 clicks right, 1 click left and 1 click right (here's a video that shows how). All lights should flash on the digital display. Turn the dial knob left until 13 appears in the display. Press Start. Unplug the power cord and wait 10 seconds, then plug it back in. The washer should now be out of the Endless Test mode.

Why does my Kenmore top-load washer keep repeating the wash cycle?

The washer is likely in the Endless Test mode. For Kenmore VMW top-load washers that don’t have digital displays showing error codes, verify that you're in the Endless Test mode by unplugging the washer and then plugging it back in. If the washer starts the cycle within 10 seconds after restoring power, then you know it's definitely in the Endless Test mode.

To exit the Endless Test mode, enter the Diagnostic Test mode (Here's a video that shows how):

  1. Turning the Cycle Selector Knob one complete rotation left (counterclockwise).
  2. Within 6 seconds, turn the dial knob 1 click left, 3 clicks right, 1 click left and 1 click right. All lights should flash on the display.
  3. Turn the dial knob left until only the Wash, Rinse and Done lights are on.
  4. Press Start.
  5. Unplug the power cord, wait 10 seconds and then plug it back in. The washer should now be out of the Endless Test mode.

What are wash water temperatures for ENERGY STAR washer temperature settings?

ENERGY STAR washers typically use the following water temperatures:

  • Hot water temperatures range between 111 degrees and 120 degrees.
  • Warm water temperature targets range from 75 degrees to 95 degrees.
  • Cool water temperatures are set between 61 degrees to 80 degrees.
  • Cold water temperatures run between 50 degrees and 61 degrees.

These are target temperatures, so the actual water temperature inside the washer can vary depending on the house water supply temperature and the room temperature.

Why does my Kenmore top-load washer only beep when I select the Normal cycle?

This beep is normal. Kenmore programmed the control on VMW top-load washers to beep only on the Normal cycle. By design, it won't beep when you select any other cycle.

Why can't I enter the Calibration mode on my Kenmore VMW top-load washer?

If the display shuts off when you try to enter the Calibration mode, the washer likely has a broken thermistor (temperature sensor). Unplug the washer and open the console. Check the wiring harness connections between the thermistor (located between the hot and cold water inlet valves) and the electronic control board. If the wire harness connections are okay, you'll likely need to replace the thermistor.

Why does my Kenmore front-load washer leave black marks on clothing?

A buildup of fabric softener inside the spin basket baffles can causes dark splotches on garments. Run the Clean Washer cycle to clear excess fabric softener from the baffles. If the problem continues, remove the baffles and clean them. Use less fabric softener and run the Clean Washer cycle monthly to help prevent fabric softener buildup on the baffles.

What's the difference between a direct-drive and belt-drive top-load washer?

On direct-drive top-load washers, the drive motor shaft connects directly to the transmission. The transmission drives the agitator when the motor spins one direction and the spin basket when the motor spins the opposite direction. Some direct-drive top-load washers built after 2001 skip the transmission and connect the drive motor directly to the spin basket and agitator drive shaft. The motor attaches to the bottom of the washer tub.

On belt-drive top-load washers, the drive motor shaft spins a belt that connects to the gear case to spin the basket and agitator. The belt slips to protect the motor if the spin basket or gear case locks up. In a direct-drive washer with a transmission, a flexible coupling breaks to protect the motor if the transmission or spin basket locks up. The motor on a direct-drive washer without a transmission doesn't spin when the spin basket locks up because electric current going through the motor windings isn't strong enough to spin the motor.