The other day I put a load into my washer and turned it on. Water entered, she turned a bit and then stopped.
After a long delay she beeped with an error code: F21.
Hoping that it was a glitch I unplugged the machine and let it sit overnight to reset the electronics. I plugged it back in the next day to receive the same error code.
I Googled the code to discover that it means that the washer is taking too long to drain. Forums indicated that a common cause was a clog in the pump filter.
Back online I went; this time in search for teardown instructions for my Maytag 3000 washing machine. Once I located the PDF I saved it into OneNote for future reference and printed out a copy to work with.
Here I am removing the front access panel.
The pump assembly underneath.
My next challenge was water related; how to contain the water that will rush out when I open the filter? The pump was too far back under the washer to place something on the floor but not far enough back to place something inside the machine.
I solved this with a 2-liter soft drink bottle we had splurged on the other day. We emptied the last of the soft drink in our glasses and I cut a custom funnel to channel the majority of the liquid into a bowl on the floor.
When the bowl was filled I would close the filter to stop the flow long enough to empty it. It took a bit since I had been washing clothes when it acted up but eventually I was able to remove the filter assembly.
I found 26 cents and a small paper clamp within so I cleaned it out and reassembled it. Here is a photo of the inside of the filter assembly:
We reconnected the water, plugged it in and turned it on. She tried to drain when I set her on spin but nothing came out of the hose. I decided to remove the whole pump in hopes of locating a blockage there—or retrieving a part number so that I purchase a replacement.
Unfortunately, the tools I needed to remove the pump had been left in Paducah when I gave my house away back in 2011. Note to self: always keep tools, even if you don’t think you will need them for a while. They will always come in handy! Time for a trip to the only store still open at that hour: Wal-mart.
We located a multi-pack that not only contained the pair of pliers I needed but a few others that I had been making due without over the past 2 years. It was cheaper to buy the pack then it was to just get the couple of tools that I needed, so I easily justified the purchase:
$12 and five sets of pliers later
While at the store I encountered Middle Daughter with her son and boyfriend. After chatting a bit we headed home and grabbed a quick sandwich because I was too tired and focused on the problem at hand to think about fixing anything to eat.
With a full belly, however, I had lost all desire to climb back under that darned washing machine. Katie and I ended up having a Big Bang Theory marathon and going to bed.
The next day after breakfast I started again. I disconnected the pump and pulled it out to examine it.
Upon examination it appeared that the main pump attached to the filter assembly in a method to allow removal. In hopes that there was something blocking the blade assembly I opened it. Immediately a small rock fell into the sink!
Ignore the dirty dishes folks… I was too busy fooling with the washer to think about them when this picture was snapped.
With raised hopes I reassembled the pump and returned it to the washer. When I struggled to replace one of the hose clamps Katie stepped up to bat. Her youth and freshness (she had only been handing me tools and holding the light until this point) allowed her to quickly replace the persnickety critter. We turned her on to test and to our delight she is once again working like a charm!
Now it is time to not only wash the load that soured while I was fiddling with this thing but to wash all of the towels we drenched during the repair process.
I am delighted. A service call is a minimum of $100 in this area and a quick search on eBay shows that I wouldn’t have been able to obtain even a used pump for less than $60. As a result I estimate that I saved $200-$300 by fixing it myself because I doubt that a tech would have wanted to disassemble the pump to troubleshoot, much less install a used pump.
I started this project knowing absolutely nothing about washing machine repair. I used Google to locate the instructions and used common tools to repair what many consider a complicated device. With the addition of some common sense (and the knowledge that I had nothing to lose) I figured out how to disassemble the pump and actually fix the problem instead of replacing an expensive component.
Anyone can save money by doing similar repairs in our modern age.
Have you ever avoided a service call by fixing an appliance yourself? Please share your stories in the comments below.