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MAINTENANCE : With Care, There's No Need to Get Agitated With a Washing Machine

November 11, 1995|From Associated Press

Washing machines are a fixture in almost every home. Here are tips to keep yours trouble-free:

* If a new washer's power cord won't reach an outlet, have the outlet moved or have a longer power cord installed. Don't use an extension cord. If water touches the connection between the extension cord and the washer's power cord, you could receive a serious shock.

* Leaving the house while a washer is running invites disaster. A burst washer hose can flood your house. For the same reason, always turn off the faucets when you finish washing. If other family members tend to forget, put up a sign to remind them.

Hose Patrol

* Every couple of months, run your hand over the washer's hot-and-cold water inlet hoses while the water is on. Replace both hoses if you feel a bulge in either. Replace both too if either develops a kink that has hardened. Hoses made by a washer's manufacturer usually resist pressure and heat better than inexpensive replacements.

* When replacing a washer's drain hose, it's easier to put on a new hose if you replace the spring hose clamps with worm-drive hose clamps. Don't over-tighten the new clamp.

* If your washer leaks, check to see if it's a simple hose problem you can fix yourself. Run the unloaded washer through a cycle. Look for a damaged inlet hose during the fill and a loose drain hose during the spin.

Pristine Screens

* If water enters the tub too slowly, the filter screens may be clogged and need cleaning. On some washers, just unscrew the inlet hoses from the faucets and take the domed screens out. On most, unscrew hoses from the washer and use a screwdriver or long-nose pliers to take the screens out of the washer's inlet ports.

Scrub the screens with a toothbrush under running water. Replace a damaged or badly rusted screen.

Torn Clothes?

* Rub old pantyhose over the agitator and the tub surface. Smooth any rough spot you find with very fine sandpaper.

* Replace a cracked or broken vane on the agitator or it will tear your clothes. To remove the agitator on many washers, just take off any softener dispenser and unscrew the cap or nut holding the agitator.

Vibes and Wobbles

* Ordinary washer vibrations can cause a machine to move and become noisy and unlevel. Periodically, stop the water while the machine is filling and check to see if the water is even with a row of holes around the tub diameter.

If it's not, prop up the cabinet on a wood block. Loosen the locknut (if any) on a corner leveling leg. Screw the leg in or out, but don't extend it too far. Remove the block and check the adjustment with a carpenter's level, front to back and side to side. Adjust other legs if necessary.

Many washers are self-leveling; you adjust the front legs and the back legs readjust themselves.

* If your washer wobbles excessively while spinning, the cause may be an unevenly distributed load, often a large item that has wadded up to one side. Stop the washer and redistribute the load for better balance.

Spin Control

* On some washers, agitation or spinning problems may be caused by a loose drive belt. To check the drive belt on many models, unplug the machine and pull it away from the wall. Remove the rear access panel and press the belt in. It should deflect no more than one-half inch.

To tighten a loose belt on these machines, loosen the motor's mounting nut and move the motor along the slotted opening to increase the belt tension. Re-tighten the nut.

If a drive belt is frayed, have it replaced.

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