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My washing machine, it is fixed.

This is good news indeed.

repairing a whirlpool direct drive washer

Our washer started having some weird symptoms a little while back, and they exhibited themselves only when I washed several loads right in a row.   The first load would be fine, but then on the second or third load, the spin cycle would do a weird stopping thing, almost like it was getting caught.

We did some googling, replaced a small part which didn’t end up fixing the problem, and then we decided that we would like to pay someone to fix this for us because the problem didn’t seem to be super obvious or super common.

So, I hopped onto Angie’s List and found a small one-person appliance repair company.

This is usually my preference when I have to hire someone because bigger companies have more overhead (office, receptionist, etc.), and when I have an issue like this, I prefer not to speak to a receptionist! It’s so much nicer to be able to talk to the repairman directly because then you can ask some questions.

Anyway, when he came over, of course the washer wouldn’t make the sound.


He checked the machine over thoroughly and said he was pretty sure the only thing it could be was the transmission, and left me with instructions to wash lots of laundry and to take video of the washer misbehaving.

(This made me really happy that I finally have a smartphone…it was so easy to take a video and text it on over to him!)

So I did, and once he saw the video, he felt positive that the transmission was the issue.   It took a few days for the part to come in, but he told me I could do laundry in the meantime which made for a happy me!

When he came back to install the part, the whole job took him probably only 30-45 minutes, and that included him doing a thorough cleaning of my machine, which was pretty dusty and dirty underneath the cover.

whirlpool washer taken apart

(If Mr. FG and I had attempted this repair, I am positive it would have taken us far, far longer!)

It turned out that the clutch on our machine was worn, but fortunately he had ordered one of those just in case (and it was only a $15 part).

Now my machine is running like new and I am so happy!

(Incidental tip: the black stuff inside the outer drum is soap buildup and to prevent that, he said to run a large empty load with hot water and a cup of powdered dishwasher soap once every few months. The chemicals in the dishwasher soap dissolve the laundry soap buildup.   He said this is especially important to do in front-load washing machines.)

The Cost

The total cost for both visits, the parts, and the labor was $250.

About half of that was for parts, so we really only spent an extra $125 for the luxury of having someone else do the work.

This is the first time Mr. FG and I have paid someone to repair our washer or dryer, and I’m so glad we chose to this time around.   The fixes we’ve done ourselves in the past have been pretty simple, but this one was trickier to diagnose (Our very experienced repairman had never seen a whirlpool transmission behave this way before!) and the labor was a lot more involved than our previous projects

We could have spent a lot of time and money trying to fix this ourselves and may still not have figured it out, and having it up and running in short order was very worth an extra $125 to me.

Fix or Replace?

When I mentioned we were fixing our washer again, a reader (Hi, Reese!) left a comment wondering how we decide whether it’s worth it to fix our machines instead of buying new ones.

For the washer, the answer is pretty easy…we’ve heard from several sources (including the repairman who fixed our machine this time) that our KitchenAid/Whirlpool direct drive washer is the best washer out there.   They don’t make them anymore and apparently the newer machines are much more repair-prone than this one.

An advantage to this older machine is that it is made well and the design is very simple. Nothing is computerized and there aren’t even any belts that can wear out.

Anyway, because this is a great washing machine, we’re pretty committed to fixing it no matter what.   We have a new clutch and transmission now, we already replaced the lid switch and the agitator, and the repairman said the brake and motor are in great shape, so we should be good to go for a while now.

I don’t know how awesome our dryer is, but it’s a pretty simple design too (nothing computerized!) and I’m inclined to keep repairing it as long as we can.

We’ve done several repairs to each appliance ourselves, and I believe that so far, we’ve put less than $100 in parts into the machines not counting this recent $250 repair bill.

Even with the recent repair, we’ve only put $350 into these appliances, and that doesn’t come close to the cost of a new set.

Then there’s the fact that throwing appliances away is kind of not awesome for the environment AND the fact that even if we did spend money on new ones, they’d probably break more often than our old ones…so all told, repairing vs. replacing is definitely a smart decision for us.

My washer and dryer won’t win any beauty awards, but hey, they live in an ugly, unfinished laundry/storage room, so they kind of go with the rest of the decor.   😉   And most importantly, they clean and dry my clothes, which is what really matters.


Joshua’s 52 Project post: Mesmerizing

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Sunday 5th of May 2019

Especially when it comes to clothes washers and dryers, new machines are not built to last 20+ years. Throught the 90s and even into the early 2000's, there were a lot of washer/dryer models that you could buy for around $400 each that were built to last like that. But the stuff you see in Home Depot or Lowe's now are only going to hold up for about 5 years before you have to start sinking repair money into them.

I am not a professional appliance repair guy, just somebody who is handy with fixing things and has spent my life watching the insides of these devices go to cheap, cheaper, and cheapest. I just invested $200 in a new transmission on our 20-year-old Kenmore (made by Whirlpool) washing machine because it will probably run another 20 years. These devices used to be stupid simple inside, and very ruggedly built. Not anymore. Plastic and electronics have replaced heavy-gauge steel and simple switches and mechanical components that you could fix yourself at home.


Saturday 28th of November 2015

Here's my story. We had my grandfather's Maytag dryer for the last 20+ years. Who knows how long he had it before that. It had to be 40 years old. Fixed it several times but in September it stopped working. A local repairman said he could fix for about $300. He reviewed the cost of fixing it vs buying a new machine. He said he couldn't guarantee that another part worth $300 might not go soon. So we bought a new machine. My husband didn't want to keep the old machine in our basement, so I sadly sent it away with the Lowes delivery guys - but I first took photos with the delivery men. They were so nice. Anyway, the next week I contacted Lowes to see if I could get it back - but it had been sent to Virginia for recycling. Lowes gave me the # for the recycling company, but I never got around to calling them. That was a very stury machine, the metal never rusted despite being in an unfinished basement, and I'm very sad - after reading some interesting web sites about people who refurbish and keep their old laundry appliances - that I didn't have that thing fixed one more time.


Monday 7th of July 2014

I sort of agree, but Craigslist often has almost new washers for the price you paid to fix your old one. I can understand the old one is more trusty without computers, guess itwould be more of a toss up for me.


Wednesday 16th of April 2014

Good on repair! You hit it right. But you did not mention that those pretty new machines do not clean as well. And "they" really want us to get rid of old machines because they are full of valuable metal that recycles, and they actually use water, enough to clean the clothes. I could go on and on.


Wednesday 16th of April 2014

I did, actually! You just might have missed it...our repairman told us that the new machines don't clean as well. It's kind of funny that my old, not-shiny, ugly machine does a better job!


Monday 14th of April 2014

Don't forget Ebay as a source of cheap parts. I had the thermal fuse go (due to plugged vent) on a Whirlpool drier. The cost for the part from Sears was in the $30 range. I found the part for $5.77 (with shipping) on Ebay. Quite a saving! Most replaceable parts like that will have a part number stamped on them though it can be quite small to read. Just type the part number into the Ebay search and see what comes up.

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