Unlike a top-load washer that fills, agitates, drains, and spins out of sight under a closed lid, a front-load washer operates with much less modesty. It’s all there for you to see through the door glass: the water entering the tub; the tub agitating the clothes, towels, or linens; the water draining out of the tub; and the tub spinning to help dry the load. So, if your front-load washer isn’t spinning or agitating, the problem is readily apparent.
To understand why your washer is failing to spin, we should go over the basics of how front-load washer drive systems operate…
Front-load washer drive system operation 101
Front-load washers operate by tumbling the clothes, towels, or linens several rotations in one direction, stopping, and then tumbling the load in the opposite direction. The process of tumbling the laundry items back-and-forth throughout the wash cycle plunges and lifts these items through the water and detergent solution to clean them. A similar tub agitation will happen during the washer’s rinse cycle. After the water is drained from the tub, the drive system will spin the tub at a very fast speed to help remove excess water from the clothes, towels, or linens.
Many front-load washer models use a direct drive system, with a stator located on the rear of the appliance, to spin the tub. The stator, energized by the voltage sent by the control, becomes an electromagnet that interacts with a rotor on the tub. The rotor has permanent magnets built into it, so the two components create a magnetic field that rotates the tub in each direction. Other front-load models use a motor, belt, and pulley to rotate the tub. A motor control board will regulate the amount and polarity of the voltage sent to the motor in order to affect speed and direction.
During the spin cycle, the speed of the rotation is increased dramatically. At the beginning of the spin cycle, the tub is rotated more slowly to allow the laundry to be evenly distributed, but as the cycle advances, the voltage is increased which results in a high-speed spin. Generally, front-load washers will spin faster than top-load models, a key factor in reducing drying time.
Top 5 reasons your front-load washer won’t spin
So, if you’re peering through that door glass and you see the tub isn’t budging during the wash, rinse, or spin cycles, here are the five most probable reasons why:
- Broken drive belt – Only applicable to front-load washer models that use a motor, belt, and pulley system to rotate the tub, but yours could be one of them. Over time, the drive belt can wear out, break, or slip on the pulleys, resulting in the tub being unable to agitate or spin. Fortunately, drive belts are relatively inexpensive and also relatively easy to replace (often you can simply detach a rear access panel to reach the area where the belt loops around the tub pulley and motor pulley).
- Malfunctioning door lock – The control or timer locks the washer door during operation. If the door lock switch is malfunctioning, the tub may not agitate or spin even with the door fully closed. You can often use a multimeter to test door lock switches for continuity – a continuous electrical path present in the part. If the component tests negative for continuity, it is considered defective, and you will need to replace the lock with a new one.
- Defective motor control board – If the washer uses a drive motor, belt, and pulley to rotate the tub, a defective motor control board could prevent the tub from spinning. While the control board cannot be easily tested, you should inspect the board for signs of burning or a shorted-out component.
- Damaged stator or rotor assembly – If the stator windings or rotor magnets are damaged, the tub may not spin or agitate until one or both of the components are replaced.
- Failed drive motor – Although it’s not a common problem, the washer’s drive motor can fail as well. If the motor hums, but doesn’t run, runs noisily, or the motor shaft doesn’t turn freely, you should replace the motor with a new one.
Keep your front-load washer spinning with parts from Repair Clinic
So let’s say you’ve established you need to replace the door lock to fix your washer; what’s the next step? Visit RepairClinic.com where you will find original manufacturer parts that match the most popular front-load washer models, including those built by Whirlpool, LG, Samsung, Maytag, GE, Kenmore, Bosch, and Frigidaire. To find the exact door lock that works with your washer, enter the full model number of the appliance in the Repair Clinic website search bar. You can then select “Latch” from the “Part Category” filter and “Door Lock” from the “Part Title” filter to locate the specific part you need. In addition to millions of replacement parts for all of your home appliances, outdoor power equipment, and heating and cooling systems, Repair Clinic also has thousands of “how-to” videos, diagrams, and articles to assist you in doing the repair quickly and successfully.