Pic of Whirlpool WTW4850HW Series Top Load WasherIn this edition of the DIY Appliance Repair Series, I will discuss three issues we’ve seen with this series of Whirlpool top load washer. The three problems are related to each other and caused by ONE thing. You’re probably going to hate me when I say this, but here goes. Overloading is the ONE thing that causes this problem.

In my other posts, I’ve stressed that overloading is the root cause of most washer problems. In the case today, it is the ONLY reason why the issues occur. They have nothing to do with quality or overuse. The machines will run a very long time if you keep the loads to standard size.

Consider the kind of mechanical forces at play when you’re washing a standard size load. You have a basket full of wet clothes, and a metal shaft in the center. The sheer weight of the wet clothes batters the shaft and continually pushes on the agitator as it moves to clean your clothes.

A standard size load is no problem for the washer and will do fine for years with that kind of use. I can say from experience what I’m saying is true, because I own a washer similar to the one pictured here. It’s September of 2020, and in January of 2021, that washer is six years old. Closeup of Gear Box

I haven’t touched the washer for any reason. It is never overloaded and doesn’t see king-size blankets, etc. It runs great, isn’t noisy, doesn’t leak, and shows no signs of slowing down. I’ve checked the machine several times, and I haven’t found anything that needs attention.

My situation isn’t unusual. I see machines like this every day. But, I also see worn out washers wobble and leak, and they are only two years old. My point is this. Your washer really can do an excellent job for you, but you have to treat it for what it is – a machine. Manufacturers design machines for specific functions, and if you push them past their designed-in limits, problems happen.

What Exactly is Too Much Weight?

That’s a question I get almost every day. With washers today, a hefty dose of common sense applies. As a general rule of thumb for every load, a basket that is half-full of clothes is a standard size load for a top load. A front-load washer is a little more forgiving. After loading your clothes, you should see only about eight inches of clearance between the top of the basket and the top of the load. There are no exceptions to this rule. Please, heed the warning here. Too much weight causes early problems with your washer. Your washer today is nothing like the washers of fifteen years ago. Not even close.

Noisy and Leaking Greasy Water

Breakdown of Gearcase, Cam, and Pulley WTW4850HW SeriesIf you ever have a noise issue or sometimes a greasy water leak under the machine, the first thing you want to check is the gearcase shaft (#5 in the picture). If it has fallen, it’s probably causing all of your issues.

By falling, I mean that the center shaft of the gearcase comes loose internally and drops down about a quarter-inch. That’s enough to ruin the bearing and cause it to start leaking oil. If you look under the machine (#16 in the picture), you can see a circle worn into the guard and an oily mess.

Because the shaft fell, everything attached to it also dropped. The drive belt pulley now makes contact with the guard, making a loud noise and wearing a circular hole into the bottom.

Unfortunately, the only fix for this problem is a new gearcase, belt, and cam assembly. I know this sounds like a big job, but the reality is that if you’re mechanically inclined and have power tools, we can walk you through this repair in about two hours.

Or, you can opt-out of the repair entirely and replace the washer. But, is that what DIYers do? The DIYers I talk to love to save money, and this is one of those times when you will save a LOT of money by doing it yourself.

Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it is worth the time and effort. When finished, you’ll have a great running washer and still have money left in your pocket.

Constant Unbalanced Loads and Not Draining

The third and most troublesome problem is that the washer gets to the point where it won’t drain and spin any load, regardless of size. This problem creeps up over time and eventually shows itself all at once.

When the problem starts, you notice that once in a while, the washer won’t spin, won’t drain, or both. It is intermittent, so it doesn’t stick out as a problem that needs fixing today. Then, all of sudden, one day, it won’t spin, drain, or wash. Why? You guessed right this time.

Top load washers today won’t let you slide when there are mechanical problems. They stop working and won’t budge until you do something. That something is to reach out to Neli. We can diagnose the problem and have you up and running in the shortest time possible!