Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Maytag Performa Brake Repair

UPDATE:It's been a year since I first posted this repair (see old post below). The repair lasted about a month then the washer brake started screeching again. Then this week I searched for some alternative repairs--looking for someone to confirm my suspicion that adding a bit of lubricant to the brake might alleviate the squeal. Eureka! I found a post, added oil to my brake, and the squeak is (nearly) gone! hooray! More will be added later, but the short solution is this: about 6-8 drops of 5w-30 placed on the brake did the trick. For more information see this link and scroll down about 3/4's of the page to Figure M-12 I removed my tub to do this procedure, but that may not be necessary.

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 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!

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!

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.

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!).

Remove the two hoses attach to the tub: the water fill sensor (small clear (or white) hose on left-hand side of tub) and the drain hose (large black host at bottom on right-hand side). The drain hose clamp might be accessed easier from the rear through the inspection panel. Have a towel or two ready when you pull off the drainage hose because all of the water still in the discharge host on the discharge side of the pump will spill on your floor--probably a half-gallon of old rinse water. My water had a sour smell, so be forewarned.

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.

To remove the drum, remove two screws opposite each other, just like Angel does. Then replace these screws with two 1.5" 10-24 screws. The 24 threads-per-inch worked on my washer, so I suspect yours is the same. Angel used self-tapping sheet metal screws, but a machine screw will keep your threads intact.
Once you have replaced the two screws with the longer replacement screws and tightened them down, then remove the four other screws. After that you can slowly unscrew the two long screws, backing each one out a little at a time (see Angel's video) until the pressure is off the 200 lb spring (that's right--200 pounds!). If you just start removing all the screws one at a time you'll ruin the brake drum and have to purchase a new one.

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).

Remove both parts from the washer. I noticed that my parts were covered with a fine powder--a dust--presumably from the brake lining. At this point I placed the drum over the shoe, like they would be on the washer, and attempted to recreate the noise by twisting these two against one another--which I did, not quite as loud, the vibration did start to occur which produced a lower pitch, similar to the sound you get when rubbing your finger around the edge of a wine glass. Problem identified!

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!

Not wanting to venture into the washer again and fight those tub springs, I decided to take an extra step and "resurface" the brake and shoe. As you can see from the photo a very shiny worn surface was evident where the brake shoe had rubbed against the drum for the past 10 years. To resurface this area I took a small piece of 215 grit sand paper (any fine sand paper should work) and made one or two passes across both the drum and the pad. I then wiped both parts down with alcohol again.

This is how the drum looked after "resurfacing" it.
One last thing I did was vacuum the plastic dust and threads that had worn from the plastic ring at the base of the tub ("snubber ring"?). I also vacuumed the plastic shavings and dust from the bottom of the washer.

Assembly is opposite of disassembly. One caution: When reattaching the brake assembly on top of the 200 lb spring, begin with the 10-24 1.5" screws. Carefully get the threads started into holes opposite each other. Then slowly screw down each screw a little bit at a time--one side and then the other--until the two 1.5" screws are tightened down all the way. Then replace the other four screws. After that, remove the 1.5" screws and replace them with the original short screws. (Once again, watch Angel's video).

The rest is relatively easy: replace the washers and other hardware in the same order that it was removed.

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.

In my case I was able to replace all of the springs through the front of the washer, beginning with the rear springs first, and working towards the front. I used locking pliers (aka Vise-Grips) while laying on the ground in front of the washer with my arms inside the washer, all the while developing a new vocabulary as the springs slipped from my pliers. Only twice did the pliers slip with such force to cause my fingers to hit the base of the tub, yielding a loud "ouch!" and bruising my pride more than my fingers.

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.

Good Luck!

~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).


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  2. Thanks for this article. Like you, I watched a bunch of Angel's videos, and while they are helpful, they don't tell the full story on how difficult it is to get that e-clip back on. I struggled with that. For the springs, I used the trick of inserting a metal electrical box in them while they are still stretched. It worked very well to get them back on.

    1. Rico,
      Thanks for your comments! The idea of using an electrical box is novel--maybe you could explain that a bit more?
      Since I made the repair the squeal has returned--I think it's just the dust, so maybe I'll try some compressed air this time.

  3. Rico,
    N ow I understand your suggestion about the electrical box--you inserted a open electrical box over the spring to keep it extended. Great idea! I also see where insert washers into the spring coils to keep them extended as well. Wonderful!

  4. Thinking now. I dont think you have to remove those infernal tub springs. Tip the machine and follow the rest of the DIY. I did have to grind a few torx/ one way screws off the front to remove the case to have some extra room to mess with the tub springs. Otherwise not an overly complex job.

  5. Lily,
    You may have something there. The key seems to be getting just a couple of drops of oil onto the brake (2-3 drops of 10w-30 is what I've used). Evidently this reduces the effect of the dust and stops the squeal.
    Thanks for your note!

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