How to Fix a Top-Load Washing-Machine Agitator

If your top-load washing machine isn't spinning, check the agitator. The agitator is the part inside of the washing machine that moves clothes through the water and suds. Some washers use a single-piece agitator, and other machines have a double-action, or two-piece, agitator. You should be able to fix the agitator yourself. Here are tips to fix a top-load washing-machine agitator.

Prepare to Work

For this project, you need:

  • work gloves
  • a flat-head screwdriver
  • a socket wrench
  • a drive belt (optional)
  • a drive motor (optional)

Empty the machine, drain the water, and disconnect the power cord to the washer. Shut off the water to the washer. The water shut-off valves should be behind the machine. Detach the water supply lines, if they get in the way of the access panel.

Tighten the Agitator Bolt

Prop the lid open. Locate the flat disc, or screw-cap cover, pushed into the agitator. Insert a blade under the cap, and twist the blade of the screwdriver to pop it free. You may need to remove a soap dispenser by raising the small ring on the bottom.

Insert a socket wrench on the bolt edge. Keep your hand on the agitator while you tighten the bolt. Set the dispenser back in place and reinstall the cap. Turn on the water and power, and then test the machine.

Check for Spline Damage

Look for the knurled knob on top of the agitator. The knob should come off by hand. If there is another fastener, use a spanner to remove it. Lift the spanner out and check for damaged splines, which resemble cog wheel gear.

Inspect the Drive Belt

While the power is on, test the drive belt. Set the program control to "Empty," and run a cycle. Listen for a motor that spins fast. A fast motor indicates the belt may have snapped.

To inspect the belt, use the screwdriver to detach the screws on the access panel. If the belt hasn't snapped, push the belt. Tighten the belt if it moves more than three-fourths of an inch.

Replace the Drive Motor

If tightening the belt doesn't solve the problem, buy a new motor. Disconnect the wires, noting how they connect. You may want to snap a picture of them to help you recall how they connect.

Detach the mounting screws. Install the new motor and test the machine again.

Fixing the agitator yourself saves you money. If you don't trust your skill, or if the washing machine still doesn't work, visit an appliance service.