Washing machine motors are ruggedly constructed and designed to last the lifetime of the machine with proper preventative maintenance. In most cases when a washing machine motor does burn out, it is because the owner failed to perform routine maintenance on the machine or because someone performed routine repairs improperly. Basic preventative maintenance is something that almost anyone can do with a little knowledge and a few tools that are probably already in your home tool kit.
Accumulation of Dirt
One of the major causes of early motor burnout is dirt. Dirt can get into the motor start switch, causing the movable contacts from closing and engaging the motor’s start winding, or keeps the contacts from closing solidly. In the first case the motor will not start at all, but simply hum loudly and draw exceptionally high current. If the circuit breaker does not trip, the excessive high current will burn out the motor’s main running wing. In the second case, a high resistance connection causes a voltage drop that keeps the start winding from receiving full voltage. In either case, if the situation is prolonged long enough, the motor’s windings will burn out.
Worn bearings can place a heavy load on a motor and cause it to burn out prematurely. Any of the bearings in the washing machine’s transmission, the tub bearing or the sleeve bearings in the motor itself can cause early motor burnout. With the motor sleeve bearings, improper cleaning of the motor accelerates bearing wear. Unfortunately washing machine motors are not designed to be disassembled and repaired, so you have to replace the motor.
Washing machine drive belts, a V-belt similar to the belts used on some cars, wear out with normal usage and need to be replaced. Adjusting the new belt’s tension is vital because a belt that is too tight will stress the motor’s sleeve bearings, damaging them and leading to motor burnout. Check the manual for your particular machine, but ½ to ¾ inches of depression is considered normal for most washing machine drive belts.
Constantly overloading the tub with clothes or out of balance loads will exacerbate the wear and tear on all the machine's bearings as well as overloading the motor, causing it to overheat and eventually burn out. Load the tub evenly to avoid out of balance conditions and do not exceed the manufacturer's recommended weight in clothes.
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