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I have a Whirlpool Duet direct-drive front-load washer from 2014, model # WFW170H68W2. It washes fine, but when it's time to spin out the water, it only intermittently gets up to high-speed spin. This seems similar to this post and similar questions on other forums, but I haven't found a clear answer.

When it's time for spin, the machine always rotates alternating directions a few times, then turns the drain pump on and slowly spins up. It gets up to a fair spin, where it stays for a about a minute, then abruptly spins down. It repeats this whole sequence 3 times. My interpretation of this is that it's trying to loosen the clothes, then evenly distribute (balance) the load as it spins up, and at some point decides something is wrong (like it thinks the load is unbalanced) so it aborts and tries again.

Once in a while, it gets past the modest-speed spin and goes into full-on jet-engine spin, and does a great job like it used to do regularly.

Here's the investigation details so far:

  • I opened the cleanout on the drain pump assembly; that paid off 32¢ and a bit of lint.
  • I disconnected the motor at the ACU (appliance control unit---the control board) and tested across pins 1+2,1+3, & 2+3. All 3 measure ~15-16 ohms, which is in-spec according to the service manual found under the top cover of the machine, which indicates 6-20 ohms.
  • I took off the rotor. Both the rotor and stator look lovely; everything looks lovely with no schrapnel, scraping, evidence of overheating, or other obvious damage.
  • The drum rotates smoothly and easily by hand, on par with prior years when I've spun the drum to look for clothes clinging to the drum. I can hear the balance ring bearings rolling/sloshing around as I do; they sound like they always have.
  • I tried replacing the pressure switch; no joy.
  • I can blow through the pressure switch tube; it's not blocked.
  • I measured the resistance of the temperature sensor: 18K ohms (spec: 500-100K ohms per the aforementioned manual).
  • The shock absorbers had about an inch of loose play, so I replaced those. No joy.
  • The springs are intact and, well, springing.
  • There is nothing leaking.

Diagnostic mode is not reporting any codes. Per the manual, there are error codes for oversuds, ACU, motor control, motor controller temperature, motor temperature, water level, door switch/lock/unlock, taking too long to train; so these aren't occurring or at least are not detected.

I would like to suspect a bad balance/vibration detector, but I can find no reference to the existence of one in this washer. I don't see one; the only thing I've seen that doesn't have a purpose is the temperature sensor, but perhaps this component is vestigial from models with heaters built-in.

Any advice is appreciated. I thank y'all for your help in advance.

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  • That is a thorough diagnosis! Have you tried running the washer without clothes to see if the same thing repeats? (Use the shortest cycle, cold water, no soap.) If it spins to full speed every time with nothing in it, my guess would be that it's just not getting the load balanced, no matter how hard it tries. Oh, and congrats on your 32¢ windfall! Don't forget to claim it on your taxes. ;)
    – FreeMan
    Feb 4, 2022 at 12:54
  • Conveniently, the washer has a "drain & spin" cycle. Running that with nothing in the washer, high-speed spin is also intermittent.
    – Perette
    Feb 4, 2022 at 12:56
  • Have you inspected the wiring itself looking for any damage? There could be an intermittent short caused by damaged insulation. After that, I'm done with guesses, I'm sure someone else will be along to help you
    – FreeMan
    Feb 4, 2022 at 12:59
  • In the end, I never found a good answer. The washer was leveled well. The general message we got inquiring with a few repair places was, "At that age, it's not economical to have us fix it." We have a new washer on order, one that's a brand seen less in retail but often in laundromats; it costs a bit more but several sales folk agreed this brand was still built well; however, it's backordered because of supply chain problems, so I tried took a chance and replaced the springs---no improvement. I've figured out it'll spin with a light load, so that's how I'm limping it along for now.
    – Perette
    Apr 4, 2022 at 14:32

1 Answer 1

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Bravo on the well-stated question!

You might try re-leveling the washer using a bubble level, both front-back and side-side. Also, try making fine leveling adjustments to the front feet while the machine is spinning with a small imbalance to see if you can find a sweet spot that minimizes vibration.

Just to add: I once read -- don't remember where -- that the computer in a modern front-loader calculates motor current vs rpm to determine if the load is balanced or not. An unbalanced load requires more current to maintain a given rpm. So for some models at least, no vibration sensor is needed.

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