When we talk about a washing machine’s tub, it’s easy to forget that both a top-load washer and front-load models actually have two tubs: an inner tub and an outer tub. That outer tub often gets short shrift. Hidden from view, the outer tub is not nearly as attractive as the shiny, metal inner tub we see every time we open the washer’s lid or door to load or unload our clothes, towels, or linens. Still, that sleek inner tub wouldn’t stand a chance of doing its job without the support provided by its less glamorous companion.
What does the Outer Tub Do on a Top-Load Washer?
The outer tub on top-load washing machines is made out of hard plastic or metal, is stationary, and is supported by rods and springs, or sits on a base frame tub support. The washer’s pressure tube is attached to the side of the outer tub and the drive motor, pulleys, and pumps are usually mounted to its bottom, although some more recent models will have a rotor and stator assembly mounted on the outer tub’s bottom to rotate the inner tub instead of the traditional motor and/or belt assembly.
The outer tub supports the inner tub, allowing it to spin freely. The outer tub also catches the wash water that exits through the perforations in the inner tub, preventing the water from leaking out of the appliance and allowing the water to drain through the washer’s drain hose attached to the outer tub.
If the outer tub develops a crack (which could result in a water leak) or if one of the molded suspension rod support brackets break causing the tub to become unbalanced (potentially causing the inner tub to rub against the outer tub), then the tub will need to be replaced.
Replacing the Outer Tub on Your Top-Load Washer
Not every top-load washer is made the same, and so the procedure to replace the outer tub can vary significantly depending on which model you’re working on. You can try paying a visit to Repair Clinic.com, enter the washer’s model number in the “Videos & Articles” section, and check if there is an “Outer Tub Replacement” video available for your model type. If not, you can still successfully uninstall that old tub and replace it with a new one by following these more general guidelines and applying them to your specific washer:
Before you begin the procedure, be sure to unplug the washer’s power cord from the electrical outlet. Depending on the model, you may also need to shut off the hot and cold water supply valves which provide water to the appliance, and detach the water supply hoses from the washer’s inlet valve ports (be prepared for some water to spill). It’s likely you will need to detach the drain hose as well.
Where the procedure can vary the most is in disassembling the washer to access the inner and outer tubs. This may require removing rear screws securing the control panel or removing end caps to access screws in the front. You may need to disconnect the wires from the user interface board in order to set the control panel aside, or you may be able to keep the control panel in place when detaching the washer’s main top. You can often insert a putty knife in the front gap between the main top and the cabinet to release the two spring clips securing the main top, then lift up the main top and support it with a chain connected to the underside of the top and the top edge of the cabinet frame. In some instances, you will need to detach the latch assembly, the detergent or bleach dispenser, or other components to fully release the main top. Other models may require you to unthread rear screws so you can slide the main top forward to detach, or you may need to entirely remove the front panel, then unthread screws to release the main top from the cabinet’s side panels. Still, other models will require you to release spring clips to fully remove the cabinet from the rear panel or remove the rear panel itself (this may be required to access shock dampening straps attached to a tub cover).
Once the main top, cabinet, or other necessary panels are out of the way, the steps to uninstall the old outer tub are a little more standard. The one thing that all washers share is that the inner tub will need to be removed first before you can uninstall the outer tub. To do this:
- Remove the tub ring. You may need to uninstall the fill spout or detach a dispenser hose first. Most tub rings are secured with multiple tabs that will need to be pulled outward to release before you can fully remove the ring.
- Depending on the model, your next step will be to remove the fabric softener dispenser or agitator cap.
- Use an appropriate-size socket to unthread the agitator mounting bolt, then lift off the agitator assembly. Some models will require an agitator retainer to be removed so you can lift off the upper portion of the agitator to reach the mounting bolt securing the agitator’s lower portion.
- If your washer uses a wash plate instead of an agitator, you will need to detach the wash plate cap, then unthread the screw or screws to release the wash plate.
- Depending on the model, you may now need to lift off a drive block or spacer, along with its accompanying washer.
- On washers that use an agitator, the inner tub is usually secured with a tub nut. Place an appropriate-size tub nut wrench, or the manufacturer’s dedicated spanner wrench, over the nut and strike the wrench with a hammer to loosen the nut. The tub nut will often need to be rotated counter-clockwise to loosen and remove, but some models require the nut to be rotated clockwise to unthread. Once the tub nut is loosened, you can unthread the nut by hand and lift the inner tub off the drive shaft.
- On washers that use a wash plate instead of an agitator, mounting screws will usually secure the inner tub to a trunnion or mounting hub. Unthread the screws and you can lift the inner tub out.
Yes, now it’s finally time to uninstall the old outer tub:
- For models with a trunnion or mounting hub, you will need to remove the component before you can uninstall the outer tub. This may require using a gear puller to help lift the trunnion or mounting hub off the drive shaft. Be aware that a seal head, as well as a slinger washer, may need to be removed as well.
- You will probably need to tip the washer back onto its rear panel in order to uninstall the drain pump, the drive motor, or the rotor and stator assembly by accessing them through the bottom of the washer cabinet. Before you do this, you will need to secure the main top.
- Detach the inlet and outlet hoses from the drain pump, then unthread the screws to release the pump.
- Disconnect the drive assembly wire harness and release any wire retainers, then unthread the screws to detach the drive assembly components from the bottom of the outer tub so you can pull the drive shaft out of the tub.
- If applicable, return the washer to its upright position.
- Detach the air pressure tube from the outer tub and unthread the screws securing any tube retainers to the tub.
- Detach any wire harness retainers attached to the outer tub.
- If your washer model uses suspension rods to support the outer tub, you can now lift each rod up and rotate its respective retaining ball to detach so you can free the rod from the frame. With all four suspension rods released from the frame, you can fully remove the old outer tub.
- Other models which support the outer tub on the base frame will require you to unthread mounting screws securing the tub to the base before you can remove the tub.
To install the new outer tub:
- To prepare the new tub for installation, you may need to transfer a tub seal, filter cover, a hose, or another component from the old tub to the new one.
- If the tub is supported by suspension rods, you will need to detach the rod bushings from the old tub brackets so you can fully remove the rods to install on the new tub. Align each rod in a molded bracket on the new tub and pull the rod up to snap the bushing into the bracket.
- Position the new tub in the washer cabinet.
- Lift the top of each suspension rod through the hole in the frame then align the retaining ball on each and rotate to secure if applicable to the model.
- If the tub is fully supported on the base frame, align the tub on the supports and thread the mounting screws loosely. Once all the screws are in place, tighten the screws.
- Attach the air pressure tube to the outer tub port and secure tube retainers if necessary as well as any wire harness retainers.
- If required, tip the washer back onto it rear panel to reinstall the drive assembly. Reconnect the wire harness and secure any wire retainers.
- Reinstall the drain pump and attach the hoses.
- Return the appliance to its upright position if necessary and remove any screws to re-release the main top.
- If applicable to your model, realign the slinger washer along with the seal head, then reinstall the trunnion or mounting hub.
To reinstall the inner tub:
- Align the inner tub over the drive shaft or on the trunnion (mounting hub). Be aware, some washers position a drive block underneath the inner tub. If applicable, thread and tighten the screws to secure the tub to the trunnion or hub; otherwise thread the tub nut and use the tub nut wrench (or spanner wrench) and hammer to tighten.
- Slide the washer then the drive block or spacer onto the drive shaft if applicable.
- Realign the agitator on the driveshaft and secure it with the mounting bolt.
- Replace the agitator cap or fabric softener dispenser…
- … or reinstall the wash plate and replace the wash plate cap.
- Align the tab slots on the tub ring with the tabs on the outer tub and snap the tub ring into position. Reattach any hoses as necessary or reinstall the fill spout if required.
From here, it’s a matter of replacing the cabinet, front or rear panels, the main top, and the control panel in the reverse order you removed them. Then reattach the drain hose along with the water supply hoses to the appropriate ports on the inlet valve. Open the hot and cold water supply valves and plug the appliance’s power cord back into the electrical outlet.
Repair Clinic.com can help you find the specific outer tub that matches your washing machine model, along with associated components like suspension rods, tub seals, air pressure hoses, and tub rings. All that’s required is for you to enter the full model number of your washer in the Repair Clinic website search bar to see a complete list of compatible genuine manufacturer parts from such top names as Whirlpool, LG, Samsung, Maytag, GE, Kenmore, Bosch, and Frigidaire.
The right part and the know-how that Repair Clinic provides will help you complete any repair successfully while taking the strain off your wallet.