It was Christmas and I needed a project. Our Maytag washer had been making a high pitched screech at the end of the spin cycle that would make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. It was the kind of sound that reminded me of someone dragging their fingernails across the chalkboard--but for just a second or two. Needless to say, everyone in our house was ready for the screeching to end! My solution was to clean the brake and--eureka!--the noise ended and I am back to being the hero of my castle.
Here's the story: As we all know, Google is the purveyor of all information, so engaged in a google search that led me to believe the problem was in the washer brake mechanism. Further googling yielded a discussion board posting that suggested adding a drop or two of oil to the brake to eliminate the squeal, with followup posts suggesting oiling the brake was a bad idea. Adding oil to the brake seemed like a poor solution to me too (I envisioned a sheen of oil on my car brakes and an inability to stop as I approached a stopped car in front of me). I felt their had to be a better way to address the noise.
More googling led me to Angel Acevedo (aka TheApplianceMan). This man has made some GREAT videos illustrating how to properly repair appliances. His video about the Performa brake gave me the confidence that I could tackle this project (watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HUbV4mxyYE). But instead of replacing the brake ($32-$50) I decided to repair the brake and now the screech is gone!
I'll share the step-by-step instructions for making this repair, but you need to watch Angel's video too for the complete story and instructions. I'll mainly focus on how I cleaned the brake. Before you begin, here are my warning and disclaimers:
Disclaimer #1: The information posted is for informational use only. Use it at your own risk as the statements on this page may be completely wrong, or your washer may not be like mine, or your mechanical skills may be rusty, or...well, there are myriad reasons why you shouldn't attempt this repair or the information may not be valid. Caveat emptor!Let's get started! The first thing is to remove the belt from the pulleys on the underside of the washer. Next you'll remove the front panel of the washer--you'll need a putty knife and a 5/16" (or 8mm) wrench or nut driver to get the front off of the machine. See Angel's video (I told you to watch it!). Slide the putty knife under the front of the top and push on each side to release the spring clips. After that, remove the two 5/16" screws holding the front panel in place.
Disclaimer #2: Unplug your washer before working on it. You don't want any electricity to be present when you open the cover on the washer and begin poking around on the inside.
Disclaimer #3: Some of the photos are terrible. I used to be very critical of some of the out-of-focus pictures I saw on the web, but now I understand why they are so bad: Trying to get a close up shot, using only one hand, while holding the part being photographed with the other hand, is a feat!
Next you'll remove the springs holding the tub in place--I used a vice-grip to remove the springs, but you may have a better idea or you might even have the $20 spring remover that Angel uses on his video. Let me share this with you: the front springs are MUCH easier to remove than the back springs. In fact, you might want to remove the inspection plate on the rear of the machine to access the rear springs(see photo below). Also, you'll need some strength to remove these springs, or at least some leverage (physics at work!).
Find a helper and remove the tub from the washer lifting straight up (watch Angel's video), set the tub upside down so you can access the pulley and brake, and then remove the pulley and all the hardware (see Angel's video). I set a towel on the floor to absorb any residual water and not damage the tub edge. As you remove the C-clip and washers be certain to place all of these pieces in the exact order they are removed so that you can replace them in the correct order later. Also, be certain to place them correct side up too.
Now on to the brake--this is where things get tricky. Removing the break drum can be problematic because the there is a 200 pound spring under the drum. You can easily damage the drum if you're not careful.
The brake has two parts: the drum and the shoe. The drum is on top and is what you see in the picture below. The shoe is underneath with a strip of brake lining attached to it. My lining had a 3/8" space between its beginning and its end, which appeared to be normal (see photo).
Take both pieces to your workbench and wipe down with alcohol to remove the dust. I don't know what this material is made from, but it's probably not a good idea to just blow it off the drum. This is probably all that is needed to stop the screeching because at this point I tried to recreate the noise again and no noise--hallelujah!
Here's where I took a detour: We cleaned the gunk from around the top of the tub. See my other blog post for more information about that procedure.
Back to the reassembly. Two people are needed to set the tub back inside the washer. Be careful to set the tub down very slowly and seated on the bottom of the washer properly. The tub label should face towards the front of the washer.
The most difficult part of this procedure was re-attaching the springs to the bottom of the tub. For each spring, place the bottom hook in first, and then stretch the spring to attach the top hook to the bottom of the tub. Place the rear springs on first--they are the most difficult to get to and it's easier to re-insert these springs when the tub has some ability to wiggle back and forth. Also, accessing the spring mounts from the back of the washer may be easier.
Re-attach the hoses (there are two: a slender fill sensor hose and the large pump drain hose). Be certain to double check the clamps for these two hoses or you will be mopping up a mess later.
After that, replace the front of the washer and plug in the cord. Test you handiwork by running it through the delicate cycle on extra large load. Then listen for the end of the spin cycle--hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised at the noticeable silent stop of the tub.
~Dr. Fix It
Follow-up: a few weeks after I made this repair the squeak returned, but not nearly as loud. So, a drop or two of oil silenced it once again. (And I do mean just a drop or two--be very conservative with the lubricant).