Friday, December 10, 2010

GE Washer repair for model whre5550kww, whre5550k0ww, whre5550k1ww, whre5550k2ww, whre5550k3ww

So, you hear this horrid knocking noise, and you think to yourself, "Who is trying to knock down the house with a sledgehammer?" Your first thought is to check on the seven year old, who has a tendency to find the ODDEST ways to create mischief. HE, however is happily gathering up all the laundry in the house, dirty OR clean. You ask him what he is doing, and he says, "I'm washing the laundry!" with that look that says, "Are you STUPID? What does it LOOK like I am doing." That's when it hits you, that noise you are hearing is the WASHING machine, and it sounds like it is tearing itself apart. You rush out to the garage and find that the machine has walked itself away from the wall with the violence of the spin cycle. It sits there jitterbugging as you watch it. You reach out in panic to shut it off. You open the lid to find that the machine is FULL. Even after the wash and spin cycle, the machine looks like you could not shove one more item in, and you wonder to yourself, "How on Earth did the boy shove all this stuff in?" You try to balance the load but when you put the lid back down and restart the machine, the sledgehammer starts up again. So you open the machine and drag out not one, but TWO quilted bed spreads. That leaves a REGULAR load of clothes in the machine. You try again. This time, there is no knocking. Instead, there is a grinding noise coming out of the washer. Then there is one coming out of your mouth as you grind your teeth in frustration.

Out comes the regular size load of clothing. You reach down under the agitator to see if a quarter has wedged itself between the agitator and the drum. You can't see anything, but the water has gotten murky from all the trash that managed to get trapped under there, so you turn the machine back on in the hopes that it was the popcorn kernel that you pulled from the drum after checking the agitator. You turn the machine back on, and sure as the sun shines during the day in the desert, you have the grinding again. You go to your truck after turning the machine on to Rinse and Spin. You grab the tool set that you keep under the seat and get back to the garage in time to hear the tortured screams of the washer halt as it sucks all the water out. You open the lid and the brake kicks in to stop the spinning. You grab an old speaker that is sitting on a shelf (everyone has one of THOSE, right?). You take the speaker and place it on top of the hall effect switch to simulate a closed lid (the new washers use a magnetic switch instead of contact points to turn the safety on), and you WATCH. While the machine is EMPTY, it makes no noise. As it fills with water, it starts spinning. Eventually, the machine starts growling. It starts first with the agitation cycle. You watch as the drum bounces from side to side and rotates slightly. If you push down gently on the agitator while it is in motion, the sound worsens. Pull up on the drum with both hands, and the sound stops. Time to get out the sockets. You switch the machine over to Rinse and Spin and as soon as the water is out, you pull the magnet.

Now, I know that most folks are aware of safety, but just to be sure, I have to say UNPLUG the washer before you work on it. Even if you are not working on the electrical parts, you could accidently turn the machine ON (or the seven year old could decide it was time to do MORE laundry) and get yourself caught on something or otherwise seriously hurt. Having unplugged the machine, you try to get at the bolt for the agitator but you cannot for your life figure out how. Your first thought is to grab a regular screw driver. DON'T! All you have to do is open the top of the agitator where you put in the liquid detergent (or in my case NOT open the top because the top is GONE), grab onto the two little knobs sticking out from the inside, and TWIST counter clockwise about an eigth of a turn. Then pull up. Inside the shaft of the agitator you will see the head of the bolt. If I recall correctly, a 7/16ths socket fits nicely on the head. Unbolt using standard rules ("righty tighty, lefty loosey," or clockwise to tighten, counter clockwise to loosen for those who can never figure that out). Pull the agitator out and you will see a gear-like nylon spline. Pull that off and there will be a nice shiny washer under it. Pull that too. NOW you test to see if it was indeed the agitator. Plug it back in and try the wash cycle again. Unfortunately, you discover that your problem was NOT the agitator. Now YOU are agitated. Rinse and Spin. Unplug the washer. Grab your putty knife (everyone has one of those, right?). You decide to see what is going on UNDER the machine. Under the top panel there are two metal clips that hold the front panel of the washer in place. These clips are about 4 inches in from each side. Pick a side, put the putty knife against the clip and give it a sharp rap with the palm of your hand. The front panel should come loose on that side. Go to the other side and do the same thing. Then gently pull the front panel away and up and you have exposed the workings inside the machine.

Plug the machine back in again. Turn it on to wash. Watch the pulley at the bottom of the machine. Does it look like it is hanging too low? Sure does! Pick up on the drum (being careful to keep away from moving parts) and the grinding noise goes away. Rinse and Spin. Unplug. Try to figure out how to RAISE the tub. There are TWO long metal rods at the front of the machine. They go from the TOP of the washer to the bottom of the barrel. At the bottom they have what looks like shock absorbers. Actually, that is what they are. As you sit on your 5 gallon plastic pail (everyone has one of those, right?) you hook your booted toe under the barrel and lift it up until the shocks are VERY loose. There is a little plastic cup that stays attached to the metal tabs on the barrel. You take the putty knife and pry that cup out of the tab. There is a slot so that the cup can be removed from the rod. Remove the cup and the shock slides right through the tab on the tub. Check the action of those shocks by putting your finger into the bottom of the shock barrel. If they both come down to the bottom of the barrel when you play with them, then they are likely good. What else can make the wash tub drop? You take the TOP of the machine off (after checking to make sure that it is unplugged). There are three little screws at the back of the machine that need to be removed, and two in the front. The three are at the very top where the plastic from the control section meets the metal from the back. One in the center, and one to either side. The front has two screws on either side on what looks like metal clips. After all the screws are removed, you will have to unclip the wiring for the hall effect switch from the frame of the machine. The harness is attached with a little plastic spear. Just pinch the tabs on the spear together with your fingers (or a pair of needle nose pliers--everyone has those, right?)and push it through the hole in the metal. You will want to keep that spear intact so you can re-attach the harness upon assembly.

The top cover is off. You look at the front of the machine and notice something odd. The sides are a little pulled in at the front, and the front support where those long rods come through SAGS. THAT ain't right. It is supposed to be STRAIGHT! Stupid GE peice of CRAP. They did not make the braket strong enough to support the weigh of the barrel under severe overload. NOW you need a new bracket. Apron bracket Part for GE, Model # WHRE5550K0WW (Models whre5550kww, whre5550k0ww, whre5550k1ww, whre5550k2ww, whre5550k3ww are all essentially the same with the same part number for the bracket) Part Number: WH16X10117 at Sears. Price: $25.99 plus tax and shipping. A temporary fix is to place some sort of washer UNDER the shocks at the bottom, but you WILL want to get that top bracket fixed. If you have access to a wire feed welder, you could straigthen it out yourself and weld some metal to stiffen the unit (which may or may not work). It is best to start out with a NEW unbent bracket and stiffen THAT. In order to create spacers to put under the shocks (for a temporary fix) you will need to either grind some flat steel washers (about a dozen will do) or get some kind of Nylon or rubber spacers and CUT them with a wire cutter. Do not cut them in half, just cut on one edge so it looks like a lock washer (make a cut that looks like the radius of a circle). The spacers that I used were hard rubber from some old VW running boards (everyone has THOSE laying around, right?). I used six total, but they were kind of thick. Nylon and metal washers should be thinner. You want enough to make up about half an inch. Once you have the washers prepped, you take the rods that I mentioned earlier and you slide the shock up on the shaft. You place the spacers on the shaft BETWEEN the metal cap washer and the body of the shock. Install the rods back on to the drum by sliding them through the hole, putting the cup back into place, and sliding the shock back into the cup. If you are using metal washers with a groove cut into them (so that they slide into the shaft) you may want to install the washers so that the grooves all point in different directions and then TAPE the washers together with something like electrical tape or duct tape (keeping in mind that this is a TEMPORARY fix). Re-install the top cover by first sliding the spear from the wiring harness into place, then placing the top cover back in place (by putting the tabs into the slots and sliding the top back) and then screwing all five screws back into place. Two in front, and three in back. Put the front cover on by sliding it into place and then giving it a sharp rap with your palm right in front of the clips. Re-install the agitator. It is re-installed in reverse order from removal with the shiny metal washer installed first (shiny side down), the nylon spline second, and then the agitator then is placed on the spline and bolted in. Put the dispenser in last by placing the groves over the pins, pushing down and twisting clockwise (righty tighty).

Plug the machine back in and try it out. It SHOULD work, but then, no guarantees. You may have other problems not covered in this post.

Watch my videos to see how the top bar is replaced, and to see how to remove the agitator. There are 3 parts to the video, and I go into detail on how to repair the machine.

Handyman Hugh's Washer Repair Video for GE Washer part 1

Handyman Hugh's Washer Repair Video for GE Washer part 2

Handyman Hugh's Washer Repair Video for GE Washer part 3

Good luck,
Handyman Hugh

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  1. Hugh,
    Thanks for the video. I replaced my bracket and the replacement bent in about 6 months. I guess there is no improved bracket that fixes this problem so its time to MIG weld the thing.

  2. Glad to help. Unfortunately, the GE washer frame is not made to handle the load that the BARREL will take. It is a poor piece of engineering. The easiest solution is to simply run the washer at less than full capacity. The best solution is to reinforce the top bar. Unfortunately, doing so is likely to place stress on some other parts of the machine that are less structurally sound, so be prepared for trouble elsewhere if you run the machine at full capacity.

  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this and post this and the videos. I came across the video when trying to figure out how to open the machine and this was the actual fix I needed. Using the part number I ordered the part on Amazon earlier this week and just finished fixing the machine thanks to you. I am not very handy, but you made it very easy to follow along and ultimately repair my washing machine.

    You need to put a Donate button on your blog :)

  4. Hi Hugh,
    I have a question. The knob where you can adjust what size load to choose has fallen off. I tried to resecure it but the there is nothing to secure it to. I think the peg it should connect to has either fallen off or broken. How do I get to that area to see and or replace?


  5. I have not yet had a reason to remove the selector switch on this model, so I do not have a definitive answer for you on this, but from my experience with other machines I can give you some tips that might help. A quick look on the back of the machine shows that there are two screws at the top corner on either side of the control tower. You will have to remove those, almost certainly.

    If you are lucky (and you most likely will NOT be) you can simply then remove the back plate by wiggling it out of some slots that hold the bottom of the plate into the base of the machine. Most likely there will be some clips that keep this from happening. If you are lucky, there will be 4 to 6 screws that simply need to be removed to take the control tower off the top surface of the machine so that you have easy access to the controls. More likely, you will have to remove the whole top cover of the machine to get at some clips or screws that can only be accessed from the BOTTOM of the top cover. Once those clips or screws are removed (or released in the case of clips) you should be able to pull the control tower from the top cover. Now comes the fun part. Most of the modern appliances that I have worked on like to HIDE the screws that hold the controls into place. They usually do this by placing a LABEL over them. To find the screws, you will have to take a sharp or hard object and put pressure on the label behind the knob. You may then find an indentation in the label where the screws are hidden.

    To remove the screws, you will have to find the area where the screwdriver head is placed on the screw (usually a Phillips type driver, occasionally a flat head, but if the company is really mean, they will use a star bit driver or some proprietary driver bit that only THEY use to keep the customer from repairing the machine his or her self (They do this to frustrate the customer with repair costs and drive them into purchasing a NEW machine--they HOPE that you will buy another of theirs, but this frequently backfires and drives the customer to the competition).

    Occasionally, these companies do the right thing and make it easy to repair and put the screws somewhere where they can be found. In this case, the screws are likely to be on the backside of the device and usually on the edges of the switch. I would not bet on that from GE. Even if you are able to find some screws, there is still the likelihood that there are hidden screws and fasteners, so if you remove the visible screws and the switch still does not want to come out, check for hidden screws.

    I am sorry that I could not be of more help in this case. Good luck,

  6. Hi Hugh, Thanks for a great video! I have the same washer and the problem I'm having is it fills, washes, agitates and drains. It doesn't spin!Any suggestions on the problem it never seems to develop enough speed when it goes into the spin cycle.

  7. Thanks for commenting. I have had a few occasions where the machine refuses to spin. I have had to replace the magnetic interlock on the lid to resolve issues with this machine, and I would look there first. I did not put a new magnetic interlock on my machine. Instead I put a push button switch on the side that bypasses the interlock. The switch is wired so that it makes contact when it is not pressed, and breaks contact when it is. Hardwiring is a possibility to bypass the magnetic interlock, but it is not a good option because when the machine is unbalanced, you need to reset the computer by opening the lid to check on the load. I simulate that activity with the push button switch on the side of the machine.

    Occasionally, the computer on my machine simply will not reset with the button. In cases like this, I unplug the machine, plug it back in after a minute or so, and then try to finish the cycle by setting the machine to either rinse or spin. I have had to do this several times on a few occasions.

    I have recently had to replace the drain pump on my machine, and it is a fairly simple procedure. I did not document that because it was fairly straight forward. My point in mentioning this is that this machine is a real piece of junk and seems to be designed to disintegrate after a few years of use. I suspect that if you cannot get the machine to work properly after the procedures I recommend, you may have to replace the motor on the bottom of the machine. You may be able to find one on eBay for less than going through Sears or some other parts supply warehouse, I would avoid the used motors and spring for new unless you can find a used one CHEAP and are willing to gamble that you will not end up in the same place in a few weeks or months.

    I hope this helps, sorry I could not be more helpful.

  8. The noise my washer is making is not what I would call a roar. I've seen where bad bearings might make a roaring sound. Maybe that's my problem, but I am guessing it's not. The loud sound mine is making is only during the spin cycle and when it is getting really fast. It's almost like the tub is not stable. I've checked and everything is level from front to back and side to side. The other night it got way louder than it has been. I stopped it and took off the front to find the tub had hopped over a metal bar at the bottom and was lodged between the bar and the side. I was able to lift it up and put the tub back in place. We are leaving the front off for now just to watch it. The sound is still load during the spin cycle and I don't know what it could be. Could it be the belt has stretched and therefore allows the tub to move more than normal?

    1. Dale: The belt can indeed stretch, and may cause problems, but most modern machines I have seen use a spring loaded tensioner that helps to prevent this. It is self adjusting and it takes quite a bit of stretch to cause a problem. Most often, the stretched belt causes a squeal and the tub does not rotate (especially for faster speeds such as spin). I suggest the next time you do laundry and witness the problem, that you CAREFULLY grab the inner lip of the tub under the lid and pick the tub up. If the problem stops, then it is likely that the pulley on the bottom is touching the frame. DO not do this if you do not feel comfortable with your hands close to the rotating drum (I have done this myself, but do not want to be held responsible for any accidents). If putting your hands near the drum is not an option, try lifting the tub from outside and see if that helps. It is much more likely that the springs on the suspension have become weak and have allowed the tub to drop to the point where the pulley rubs. If this is the case, you will have to tweak the suspension, or replace the springs. Good luck

  9. Hugh, thanks for the quick response. When I got down in front of the washer I thought you had it right. The tub was hanging just a hair from being on the bottom of the washer. However, once it got into the next cycle it actually raised itself and had plenty room to spin. Not sure how that happened. Now I am thinking I described the noise incorrectly. It sounds more like a knocking noise when it's moving slow. Once it gets into spin mode the knocks are so close together that it sounds different.Here's a short youtube video. See if you have any idea what this may be. Thanks again.

  10. I have not run into that particular sound on this machine, but it sounds like a bearing is binding. I would pull the belt off the bottom and see if there is a catch as you spin the tub by hand. If so, one of the bearings on the shaft is likely bad. If not, try the motor or the idler The idler should actually be fairly easy and cheap to replace (SHOULD be, no IS GE). Bearings for the tub should be replaceable, but not necessarily easily. Nor may they necessarily be on the motor. If it is the motor, you may need to look for a replacement for the whole motor assembly.

  11. Thanks for the post Hugh. Had the same problem with a similar model. Who would have thought it was the sagging frame. Anyhoot, I just took two toilet seat nuts, slit them with a razor knife and slid them over the bar to raise the basket. We'll see how it goes. If it works I just saved myself $30 plus S+H.

  12. I have a GE washer model #WHRE550K0WW. IT works perfeactly except, each time finishes a cycle the agitator will begin cycling the clothes around until someone opens the door. This model does NOT have the automatic load size sensor, but it acts like it is measuring the load size. I unseated and reseated all the board connections and I ran the diagnostics and everything checked out. The LED on the motor shows it is working properly as well. Any idea how to fix? If it is unplugged and plugged back in after a couple of minutes, it will not agitate, but when you run a load through it, it will do it again as soon as the load is finished.

  13. I do not know for certain what the fix would be for this, but I had similar issues before I replaced my drain pump. After replacing the pump, the issues seem to be resolved. I do not know if the pump is the issue on your machine or if it was the replacement of the pump that fixed mine. It may have been my moving wires around that fixed a grounding issue while I did the pump replacement. I would recommend checking the grounds on the machine and checking to see if the drain pump is fully functional. These machines tend to be temperamental, and if I were not so handy, I would have had to rid myself of this albatross a long time ago.