How to Fix Washer With Burning Smell | Washing Machine Repair
REPAIR > WASHER > BURNING SMELL

How to Fix A Washer With A Burning Smell

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  • Rated as EASY
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Drive Belt Or Spin Belt

Some models of top loading washers use a belt to drive the transmission. If the washing machine stops agitating then the belt may be at fault. Remove the front panel or cabinet to inspect the belts to see if they are worn out or broken. The belts are normally located at the bottom of the washing machine and if they are worn will typically cause a burning smell or create a noise when the washer is running. Ensure that the transmission drive pulley turns freely and that both the motor and drive pulleys are clean and free of oil or grease. Verify that any idler assembly or belt tensioner is free moving and operating properly before replacing a defective belt. Always use the exact replacement belt and tighten to the manufacturer’s specifications. Remove power from the appliance before attempting this repair and use appropriate safety wear.

Pump Belt

Some top load washers use a belt to operate the drain pump. This belt is normally a standard V shaped belt that is coupled from the drive motor to a pulley on the drain pump. There may also be an idler pulley assembly to provide tension on the belt. If you experience a burning rubber smell from your washer, you should inspect the pump belt. If the belt appears to be worn excessively or shows signs of overheating, then you should replace it. Verify that the pump turns freely and if an idler pulley is used, make sure that it operates properly as well. Also check for signs of oil or water leakage onto the belt or pulley area. Remove power from the appliance before attempting service.

Motor Pulley

The drive motor uses a pulley to turn the drive and/or pump belts. The motor pulley is designed to provide the maximum contact with the belts and may be made of metal or a synthetic material. If the pulley becomes worn or rusted, it may create excess friction and overheat or damage the belt, causing a burning smell. When replacing a burnt or worn belt, you should inspect the motor pulley to check for any signs of wear or corrosion, and replace if present. Remove power from the appliance before attempting service.

Drain Pump

The drain pump on a washing machine is used to pump the water from the wash tub before and during the spin cycle. The pump may be belt driven, motor driven or have its own electric motor. A burning smell coming from the washing machine during or after the spin cycle can indicate that the drain pump has become seized, preventing it from turning. On belt driven models, the burning smell normally emanates from the belt slipping on the pump pulley. On models that use an electric drain pump, the smell would be related to the pump motor, and may be more of an electrical motor smell. Inspect the inlet to the pump to verify that nothing is restricting the movement of the impeller before replacing the pump. Disconnect power from the appliance before attempting any repairs.

Idler Pulley Wheel & Idler Pulley Arm

Some models of top load washers utilize an idler pulley assembly to provide tension on the drive or pump belt. If the idler pulley becomes seized or if the idler arm does not pivot freely, then proper tension on the belt cannot be achieved and excess belt slippage or friction will occur and cause the belt to overheat and create a burning smell. If you experience a burnt drive or pump belt, then you should check the idler assembly to verify that the idler pulley turns freely and that the idler arm pivots easily. Replace any assembly that shows signs of wear or corrosion. Remove power from the appliance before attempting service.

Direct Drive Motor Coupling

Some top load washers use a direct drive motor coupling instead of a belt, to transfer power from the motor to the transmission. The drive coupling connects the motor to the transmission and consists of 2 plastic drive forks with a rubber coupling between them. One of the drive forks is attached to the drive motor shaft and the other is attached to the transmission input shaft. As the motor shaft rotates, the rubber coupling between the drive forks absorbs the torque to prevent the forks from breaking. Normal use will create wear on the coupling and eventually the drive forks may slip and cause a burning smell. If the transmission seizes or if the spin basket cannot turn freely, then the coupling may fail and again you may experience a burning smell. Most models will require you to remove the cabinet to access the drive coupler. Disconnect power from the appliance before attempting any repairs.

Clutch Assembly

Some models of top load washers use a clutch assembly to drive the wash basket during the spin cycle. A burning smell in your washing machine can be a result of a worn clutch, and your machine will likely be making a loud scraping noise during the spin cycle. Another common sign of a worn clutch is brake dust or shavings found underneath the washing machine. If your machine displays any of these symptoms, the clutch may need to be replaced. The clutch is normally located at the input to the basket drive and you will need to remove the cabinet and motor assembly to gain access. Clutch assemblies are often under spring tension and you should always wear protective clothing and remove power from the appliance when attempting this repair.

Glide & Spring

Some models of washing machines use a spring and glide arrangement on the drive motor for belt tensioning. Typically the drive motor will have a pivot mount to the base frame and a spring to provide the tension. A lubricated plastic or nylon glide is attached to the bottom of the motor to allow it to slide on the washer base frame. This will allow the drive belt and/or pump belt to slip a little when the motor starts and acts like a clutch. If the glide does not slide freely then the belts can become overheated and create a burning smell. Verify that the motor pivots properly, that the springs are not stretched and that the surface is free of any dirt or rust. Lubricate or replace any defective glides and replace any belt that has been overheated or damaged. The drive motor spring and glides are normally located on top of the base frame and can be found by removing the front panel. Remove power from the appliance before attempting service.

Drive Motor

In most washers, the main drive motor is used to operate the mechanical functions of the wash cycles such as agitation or tumble and spin. It may also be used to operate the drain pump. When a defect or problem occurs in one of the motor driven components it may cause the drive motor to overheat and create a burning smell. If the problem is severe, it may also overheat the motor enough to cause it to fail. A common symptom associated with a failing drive motor is a humming or buzzing noise when the motor is starting. If you are experiencing an electrical burning smell that appears to come from the motor you should first check for any mechanical failures that may be causing the motor to overheat. Check for restrictions to the pump, the transmission and the spin basket, that may put a strain on the drive motor. If the drive motor is unable to turn freely on its own, it is probably defective and will need to be replaced. If your model of washer has a motor capacitor, it may be at fault and can also cause the motor to overheat. Disconnect power to the appliance before attempting any repair.

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