Front-load washers offer significant advantages over top-loaders. Front-loaders rely on gravity to agitate washing, as opposed to a central agitator, which thrashes clothes from side to side. Consequently, front-loaders are quieter and garments last longer, and they use far less detergent and water than top-load machines. Unfortunately, the entire load is borne by a single set of bearings mounted on the rear of the horizontally oriented drum, and this set-up can lead to bearing failure after extended use. However, if you have basic DIY skills, you can save a lot of money by changing the bearings yourself.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Cordless power screwdriver
- Torx bit or Phillips screwdriver bit
- Straight-tipped screwdriver
- Pair of pliers
- Socket wrench set
- Camera phone or digital camera
- Light hammer
- 2 pieces of 2-inch by 4-inch lumber
- Large cold chisel
- Limescale and detergent remover
- Soft cloth
- Washer bearings and seal kit
- Rubber drum housing seal
- Caulking gun
- Silicone caulk
Unplug the washer's power cord from the wall outlet. Turn off the water supply valve, and disconnect the hose from the back of the machine. Move the washer to an open area to allow enough space to work on all sides of the washer.
Undo the two screws on the upper back of the machine that hold the top panel to the washer chassis. Use a cordless power screwdriver and either a Torx bit or Phillips screwdriver bit, depending on the make of machine you're working on.
Remove the soap dispenser. Undo the three screws inside the dispenser cavity, as well as the single screw on the side of the control panel. Lift out the control panel and lay it on top of the machine without disconnecting it from the wiring harness.
Pull the lower kick plate out of its retaining clips, remove the push-on drain hose and set the kick plate off to one side.
Unscrew the two screws on the underside and the two screws on the upper ledge of the front panel. Insert the tip of a straight screwdriver between the top of the door seal and the metal lip. Pry out the spring that holds the door seal to the machine.
Pull the door seal out of its recess surrounding the door opening. Remove the two door lock attaching screws. Pull the front panel from the washer and set it off to one side.
Pull out the cross-member below the soap dispenser casing. Work the soap dispenser upward to reveal the hose clamp that holds the soap dispenser tube to the drum. Undo the hose clamp by compressing the side lugs with a pair of pliers, pull the hose off the side of the drum and fold the soap dispenser backward out of the way.
Undo the bolts that hold the counterweight to the top rear of the drum, using a 13mm socket wrench. Remove the screws that hold the circular counterweight to the front of the drum, using a power screwdriver. Set both counterweights off to one side.
Use a camera phone or digital camera to take a snapshot of the wires connected to the heating element on the bottom of the drum housing so you can use them for later reference. Pull the heating element wires from their spade connectors.
Loosen the nut that holds the element in place, using a socket wrench, but leave the nut on the end of the stud. Tap the nut with a light hammer to push the stud inward and break the watertight seal. Pull the element out of the recess and lay it on one side.
Pull the clips that hold the pressure hose to the right of the drum housing out of their recesses. Undo the hose clamp that holds the large sump hose to the bottom of the drum housing, using a screwdriver, and pull the hose off the bottom of the drum housing. Undo the screws holding the wiring harness clamps to the front of the drum housing, and move the wiring harness out of the way.
Undo the screws that hold the back panel to the washer chassis, using the power screwdriver. Remove the panel to reveal the bottom-mounted motor and the large drum pulley and drive belt. Lift one side of the belt out of its groove and rotate the drum until the belt slips off.
Take another snapshot of the electric motor connector block for later reference. Pull the wiring harness connector out of the connector block. Remove the two bolts that hold the motor to the drum housing, using a socket wrench, and lift out the motor. Pull the plastic clip that holds the pressure chamber to the lower left of the drum housing out of the recess, using a pair of pliers, and push the pressure chamber out of the way.
Detach the two support legs from between the chassis on the underside of the drum housing; remove the upper or the lower attaching bolts on either side with a socket wrench, whichever is easier to reach. Support the weight of the drum housing, and unclip the two large springs holding the drum housing to the upper sides of the machine.
Lift the drum housing out of the machine and place it on a solid work surface with the opening facing upward. Pry the door seal spring out of its groove surrounding the drum, and remove the door seal.
Flip the drum housing over and support the rim on two pieces of 2-inch by 4-inch lumber. Slide the handle of a hammer into one of the recesses on the back of the drum housing to prevent the pulley from turning. Undo the central pulley nut counterclockwise with a socket wrench, and pull the pulley off the drum shaft.
Remove all the Torx or Allen head bolts around the centre seam that hold the two halves of the drum housing together; use the appropriate bit and the power screwdriver to make the job easier. Turn the drum housing on its side, pull the two halves apart and set the front section off to one side. Lay the bottom half on its back, slide the drum off the shaft and set it off to one side.
Stand the back of the drum housing on the two pieces of 2-inch by 4-inch lumber. Insert a large cold chisel through the hole in the upper bearing. Angle the chisel so the tip rests against the outer rim of the small bearing in the recess on the back of the drum housing. Tap the end of the chisel with a rubber mallet while moving the tip of the chisel around the circumference of bearing; tap the bearing out evenly without jamming it in its recess.
Invert the drum housing and support it on the two planks. Tap out the large inner bearing, using the same method you used to remove the outer bearing; the inner seal will come out at the same time.
Clean the seal recess in the rim of the inner half, and scrub the insides of both halves of the drum housing clean with limescale and detergent remover. Rinse the surface well by spraying the inside with a garden hose. Finish by cleaning out all the remaining gunk from the bearing recess with a soft cloth. Place the inner half back on its supporting planks.
Insert the large bearing into its recess and push it down as far as it will go. Place the tip of an engineer's punch on the outer rim of the bearing and tap it gently into the housing. Deliver light alternating blows evenly to all four quadrants of the outer rim with the rubber mallet. Keep tapping until you feel the bearing seat solidly against the lip inside the housing. Insert the rubber seal and tap it down level with the housing.
Invert the drum housing and support it with the two planks. Press the small inner bearing into the recess by repeating the actions you used while inserting the outer bearing. Tap the bearing in evenly until it sits flush against the outer housing.
Wipe the drum shaft clean with a soft cloth, and insert the drum into the inner housing. Replace the drum pulley, wedge it against the drum housing with a hammer handle, thread the nut back on and tighten it firmly with the socket wrench. Turn the drum housing over and support it with the two planks.
Inspect the grove on the face of the inner drum housing to make sure that it's clean. Locate the joint on the new rubber drum housing seal. Position the joint inside the groove at the top of the drum housing, and press the rest of the seal all the way into the groove surrounding the housing. Load a caulking gun and run a bead of silicone caulk into the groove all the way around the drum housing on top of the seal.
Position the outer half of the drum housing over the bottom half, and line up the screw holes. Thread the screws you removed earlier into the holes. If your screw holes are numbered, follow the tightening sequence on the instructions printed on the drum housing seal package. If not, work your way around the drum housing by tightening opposite bolts evenly in turn until they are all secure.
Allow an hour for the silicone sealant to set, and take the drum housing out onto the driveway. Fill the drum housing with water and check the joint for leaks to ensure that the housing is watertight.
Reassemble the washer by reversing the steps you carried out earlier. Plug the power cord back into the socket, insert a load of washing and test out the machine to make sure there is no vibration and that the new bearings run quietly.
Tips and warnings
- Never insert a bearing by tapping the inner rim. Doing so will immediately destroy the bearing.
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