Introduction: Repair Overflowing Washing Machine
How a simple repair can save you big bucks in water damage and appliance repair or replacement.
In my basement I have this washing machine. Over time it began to overflow with water. At first I thought the drain was backing up until I caught it in the act.
My wife immediately wanted to replace the machine. Instead, a little research turned up a common culprit, the water level switch.
Read on to discover how to diagnose, repair, and replace this system for anywhere from free to around $30.
Step 1: Safety First!
Always be sure to disconnect the power of your appliance before beginning any work on it. Unplugging the cord takes a second, and will save you from doing any impromptu arc welding on your tools. I have included a picture of the damage I did to my screwdriver as a friendly reminder.
Step 2: Pull Your Washing Machine Into the Open and Remove the Front Cover.
You're going to need a little space to move around. Pull your appliance out of whatever little cubbyhole you might have it stashed in. Not much space is needed, so no need to disconnect your water unless you just have that limited kind of space.
The front cover of the machine (on GE washers that is) is held on by two spring clips. These are easily released by inserting a putty knife between the top panel and the front panel. You may have to do some recon ahead of this step to figure out exactly where your clips are.
Step 3: Remove Control Panel
This particular washer has three sheet metal screws that hold the panel in place. They are found in the back of the unit, just below the the uppermost point of the machine. They are easily removed with a 1/4" socket.
With these removed, the panel tilted forward and then lifted upwards. the panel is indexed to the machine with three tabs extending downwards into three slots.
Step 4: Remove the Old Switch
The culprit in an overfilling washing machine is this device. It is a air-pressure diaphragm switch controlled by air displaced by the wash water as the tub is filled. The switch is connected to the tub by a long piece of tubing which builds pressure as the water fills. When the water reaches the appropriate level, the diaphragm trips and stops the water flow.
Two things can go wrong with this system. Either the diaphragm or switch malfunctions, or the tube can become clogged with mold or debris preventing proper pressure transfer.
The switch it a twist-lock. To remove it, simply find the metal flange locking it in place, lift it, and turn.
The tubing is connected to the tub with simple friction. Give it a tug and use the switch to pull the whole assembly free.
Step 5: Repair or Replace
Examine your tubing. Is it very dark? if you blow through it, does the air feel constricted? If yes, you may be in luck. Grab a wire hanger, straighten it, and run it through the tubing a few times. Dip the whole thing in bleach. Repeat until the clogs have been cleared.
I have done this several times with good effect, but recently the washer overflowed and I didn't find a clog, so I began to suspect a faulty switch. Fortunately, both the switch and fresh tubing are available on Amazon for about $25 for both. Free shipping, yay Prime.
Take a look at the difference between the old and multiple times cleaned tubing and the fresh one. Yuck.
Step 6: Reassemble
Install your new switch. Remember, it's a twist lock. Orient it the proper direction and give it a quick twist. There is very little effort, so if it feels forced, reexamine how the locking flanges come together and make sure it's right.
For this machine, there is a small hole in the underpinning just for this tube. Feed the tubing through, being sure to keep it free of any potential entanglements of the tub. Connect the tubing to the pressure connection on the tub.
If you had any holders or brackets holding your tubing in place, be sure to reuse them to keep your tubing from getting tangled or crimped.
Step 7: Reassemble Control Panel
Make sure your wiring harness is connected firmly.
Reverse your earlier steps of disassembly.
Place the three tabs in the three slots on washing machine body and lean the control panel back into place.
Secure the panel in place with its screws through the back.
Step 8: Reassemble the Body
The front panel can be a little bit of a bear. There are two tabs at the bottom to set the front panel on.
Once these are lined up, there may be indexing pins sticking out of the body to help you line the panel up just right. Give it a little wiggle and hip action to get these pins in their holes.
If you just can't seem to get it lined up, remember the whole machine is basically sheet metal and is prone to oil canning, or becoming misaligned just by virtue of being moved.
Give the whole machine a little shimmy and shake, then repeat attaching your front panel. When done correctly, the pins will easily insert to their holes and the clips at the top will grab the upper edge.
Step 9: Completion
You are now done. Plug in your machine and test your work before returning it to its regular home.
On my first go around, I forgot to plug in the switch harness. I had the entire machine put back together and back in place before I found my mistake. Work smarter, not harder.
Thanks for the read.