Basic Washing Machine Motor Wiring

Trouble in your laundry room? Learning the basics of washing machine motor wiring could save you a costly visit from an appliance repairman. Like most appliances, the wiring of your washing machine is designed to be straightforward. With the washer unplugged and a wiring diagram in hand, you should be able to troubleshoot most problems your washing machine will encounter.

A Washing Machine Motor Wiring Overview
An electrical motor in the 1/3 to 3/4 Horse Power range typically powers your washing machine. These motors require a 220 Volt electrical connection. The washing machine motor is connected to a set of control switches and safety switches. The control switches allow you to set the speed and duration of the wash and spin cycles. The safety switches engage to shut the machine off if the lid is opened or the water level is too high. Some machines will also have an excess vibration cut-off switch.

Your owner's manual should have a copy of your washing machine's wiring diagram. Don't panic if you've lost or misplaced the manual-the wiring diagram is often pasted to the inside of the machine's access panel or to the back of the control panel access plate.

Elements Of Your Washing Machine's Electrical System

  • Controls - Although newer models have electronic controls, many models in use today use an electro-mechanical method for controlling your washing machine. A motorized timer is used to measure the length of each cycle. The motor slowly turns a plastic dial that causes electrical contacts to engage at pre-determined times. These electrical contacts start and stop the various cycles of your washing machine. A bad control module may fail to switch cycles or keep the washing machine from operating.
  • Safety switches - Safety switches are used to cut the power to your washing machine's motor in the event of an unsafe operating condition. Safety switches are used to monitor the lid/door, water level and the amount of vibration the washing machine is experiencing. A faulty safety switch will keep the washing machine from operating.
  • Motor - The washing machine motor will have multiple connections for starting, low speed operation and high-speed operation. These connectors are often numbered and color-coded to match the wiring harness. Most washing machine motors are designed to run in two directions and the direction is revered by reversing the polarity of the power supplied to the motor.
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