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How To Fix a Washing Machine
Remove the Agitator

The agitator's movement back and forth is important for the cleaning of your laundry. If it doesn't function properly, your clothes won't be as clean as possible. If your agitator does not move, moves only in one direction or its movement is very weak, you will probably need to remove the agitator. Furthermore, in order to inspect the tub for leaks, the clutch assembly, the splines, or to remove the spin drum, you will have to remove the agitator.

Caution: Please read our safety information before attempting any testing or repairs.

Before removing the agitator, unplug the washer to avoid an electrical shock hazard.

The agitator is fastened to the agitator shaft and its movement is driven either by splines or a simple clutch assembly. The splines are usually plastic or rubber nubs on a cylinder that fits over the agitator shaft. If the nubs wear down, the shaft will not turn properly or it will turn weakly. If the agitator is moving in only one direction, the likely cause is the clutch assembly. The clutch has dogs that depress and pop up with each turn. If those dogs are worn, they will not engage properly and the agitator will turn only in one direction.

Various makes and models differ in how the agitator is removed. In some newer models, the agitator just lifts straight up and out. However, in most models you will have to do some combination of the following steps. First remove the fabric softener dispenser, if any. It should either lift or screw off. Next remove the cap. It may lift off, screw off or failing that, it may need to be pried off.

Beneath the cap some agitators are secured in place by a bolt. Use a socket wrench with an extension to remove that bolt. Some Maytags may have a screw near to the bottom of the agitator post that must be removed. Now try to lift the agitator straight up, possibly with a little back and forth rocking motion. Use caution when pulling, the agitator may come loose suddenly and hit you in the face or send you flying backward.

If the agitator is particularly stubborn, you can loop some rope under one side of the agitator at the bottom and then up over a broom handle. Now loop it again under the other side of the agitator and back up to the broom. Brace one end of the broom handle against the top of the washer and lift up on the other end. Double check that you have removed anything that may be securing the agitator in place. Do not use too much force or you may damage the washer cabinet, agitator or injure yourself.

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