A common issue that many have with their washing machine is the upper agitator not working properly. Sometimes it will rotate in a constant circle while other times it will not move at all. The upper agitator is an important part of your washing machine and can affect the overall performance of your machine. Some choose to ignore the problem and eventually end up buying a new machine because they are not satisfied with the cleanliness of their clothes after being washed. In the majority of cases, the agitator dogs are either broken or stripped. Fixing this problem will cost around $5.00 and will take any do-it-yourselfer around 20 minutes to complete. Before you throw in the towel and buy a new washing machine, give this a try and see if it fixes your problem.This solution works for most Kenmore, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Roper, Maytag and Estate washing machines.
How to repair washing machine dog ears
Determine that the upper agitator is the issue. As always, it’s important to properly diagnose the problem before you begin throwing parts at your machine. Start by filling the washer machine with water and observing the upper agitator. If it remains stationary while the lower agitator moves, then you likely have an issue with your upper agitator. If the upper agitator spins randomly while the lower agitator moves then you likely have a problem with the upper agitator. If neither the top or bottom agitator move then the problem is likely elsewhere.
Before disassembling your machine, write down the washers make and model number. This information is usually located under the lid near the rear of the door opening or on the back of your machine. The particular machine that I am working on is the KitchenAid direct drive washing machine – model number KAWS677EQ0. Appliancepartspros.com is a good website that is great at finding just the part that you need. It even has a diagram for most appliances that show all parts and where they are located. Search for the Agitator cogs (commonly referred to as dog ears or dog agits). Notice if complete repair kit or just the dog ears are available. In most cases, you can get away with simply replacing the dog ears.
Disassemble your washing machine and inspect the dog agits.
This process is fairly straight forward and simple. It all begins by removing the cap or fabric softener dispenser. Fabric softener dispensers will usually come off with a persuasive pull while a cap may take a bit of prying with an object such as a screw driver.
Notice the water seal covering the agitator nut. This seal has a rubber ring around it and prevents water from escaping the inside of the machine. Remove it by grabbing and pulling straight up. Inspect this part and ensure that the rubber is not dry-rotted and will perform as intended.
Once the nut is exposed, use a 3/8 inch ratchet with around 12” of extension to reach the bolt. The size of this bolt is usually around ½ inch to 15mm. Turn the bolt counter clockwise to remove. Ensure that the rubber seal under the nut is not dry-rotted or damaged.
Remove the upper agitator and notice the cam bearing. This is a clip-like device that slides on the shaft and holds the dog ears in place. Remove it by pulling straight up on the piece. Closely inspect for any cracks or wear.
Inspect the dog ears for damage. In this case, all four of the ears completely snapped off. Other times the teeth will be worn down or stripped out.
Order the parts that you need. In most cases, you can just purchase the agits for around $5 plus shipping for all four. The most common part number for a Whirlpool Kenmore direct drive machine is 80040. They can be purchased for a couple of dollars at Appliance Zone. If any other component such as the cam bearing is damaged, you should order the complete kit. This kit sells for around $10 and is available from several websites on the internet, including eBay. Pay close attention to process and shipping time because you do not want to go 2 weeks without a washing machine. Depending on how often you wash clothes, it may be worth paying a little extra for quicker shipping. The dog ears by their self are very small and lightweight. These items are usually shipped first class mail and will only take 2-3 days if you order from a nearby seller. Also, order any other damaged parts such as the water seal or nut seal.
Assemble. Once your parts have arrived, check to see if you received the correct parts. If so, begin assembling your washer by inserting the dog ears into their proper location.
Place the bearing cap on top of the dog ears and ensure that it is seated.
Return the upper agitator into its original position on the washing machine shaft.
Secure the agitator using the nut that you removed. Be sure to place the rubber nut seal on the shaft before securing the bolt. Tighten snug but do not over tighten. Use a short 3/8 ratchet with less leverage to help prevent over tightening.
Replace the agitator water seal. Insert evenly and press down to ensure it is seated.
Replace the fabric softener dispenser or lid by pressing firmly on top until you hear and feel it seat.
Test the machine by running a cycle without clothes and ensure that the upper agitator is working properly and there is no water leaking on the floor.
While this may seem like a lengthy process, it takes about 20 minutes to complete once you have the correct parts. Feel free to post comments below with any questions or advice that you may have.