Don't Let Problems Drain You

Don Miller |

CHICAGO — I guess if some of you maintenance “beginners” are back for more tips this month, that’s half the battle. The next step is to digest the information and try to do some of the necessary work.Ready for more? In the last column I covered valves and belts. Before I finish discussing belts, a little recap is in order.The belt provides an excellent transmission of power between the main motor and machine cylinder. With some top loaders, the belt is used as a “clutch.” Belt wear is common, and it could lead to an overloaded motor and a washer that won’t spin out the load.When motor overload occurs, look for a worn belt. If the rubber is showingthrough any part of the V of the belt surface, it needs to be replaced. This type of slipping belt drive usually employs a tension idler pulley. When set correctly it will provide the correct belt tension and “clutch” action. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding adjustment. Changing a belt normally only requires slipping off the old one and putting on a new one. The adjustments for proper belt tension will not usually change, but it will be necessary to check the adjustments when changing the belt. If no adjustments are required, this procedure shouldn’t be too difficult.MORE ON BELTSAdjustments prolong belt life. A slipping belt, due to a lack of proper tension, will create heat. The heat will dry out and crack the belt. However, a belt with too much tension can lead to bearing failure when used with a motor or pulley that uses bushings as bearings. Your service manual will address belt adjustments.Much of today’s equipment uses a self-adjusting principle when it comes to drive belts. On washers, the belts are kept in adjustment by the weight of the motor itself and springs. The motor weight and gravity will provide the correct belt tension in one direction and a spring between the motor and frame will take care of it in the other direction. The motor rotation in one direction has a tendency to tighten the belt, while doing just the opposite in the other direction. Hence the spring.Because of this system, belt adjustment has been eliminated. Simply check out the belt. If a replacement is needed, take the old one off the pulley and reverse the procedure. Any beginner can do this.Belts stretch over time. Since many of today’s washers use two belts in their drive system, changing both when one breaks is a good practice. Belts in a multiple-drive system should be replaced in sets.What about dryers? The average dryer, in order to reduce the basket rotation to an acceptable revolving speed, will incorporate a compound pulley. Usually this means you have a motor-driven idler pulley driving the tumbler. Two belts are used to accomplish this task.Some tumblers require a manual adjustment to maintain proper belt tension. Some dryers, through a unique design, incorporate the self-adjusting method, keeping the proper belt tension automatically. If your tumblers utilize either system, exercise some caution. This is more of an “advanced” maintenance task.DEALING WITH DRAINSA maintenance question often heard is, “What other method can I use to maintain the drain systems other than a rodder or chemicals?” Before you act, a little bit of information is necessary.A washer, in order to launder the garments, requires the retention of water and laundry aids. Then through the “action,” (the type of action depends on whether you’re using a front loader or a top loader) the soil is loosened and held in suspension in the wash and rinse water.Since the path to the main drain is mechanically restricted to retain the water within the tub during the wash and rinse cycles, the opening and closing of the drain (dump valve) is controlled. Machine cycle times allow for a set period of time to accomplish the draining of each fill cycle prior to rinses or extraction. The water level control switch (WLCS) comes into play.This switch can sense the water volume within the cylinder and determine when the water is to be turned off because the proper water volume (level) is reached. Equally important is that it will determine when the cylinder is empty, allowing for new water to enter and giving the OK for the spin cycle to take place.The latter is of great importance because it protects the main motor from damage. An indication by the WLCS that the cylinder isn’t empty is directly relevant to the condition of the drain system. A blocked or partially obstructed drain leads to a missing extract cycle, leaving the load wet.More importantly, a machine when properly drained of wash or rinse water prior to extraction will allow the motor to bring the tub up to speed with a minimum amount of strain.The quicker the moisture is removed from the load and drained, the faster the current draw to the motor will decrease, lessening the chances of motor failure and machine component damage.The drain passage of every washing machine has built-in problem areas. Every clamped rubber hose connection becomes an inherent possible lint trap because of the shoulders that are present when a rubber hose goes over a tubing or pipe. These areas are possible catching points for items and the lint in the drain water on its way to the sewer.Even beginners know that “pocket trash” is a problem. If you have ever cleaned out a blockage in a drain system, you know what can be found. It’s not unusual to stumble across toothpicks, pens, combs or screws, just to name a few things. All of these items will find their way to these points and usually lodge there, collecting the lint that normally passes. Pretty soon the drain opening will begin to reduce in size. The restricted drain size will not allow the required volume of water to pass through in the allotted cycle timer time (30 to 90 seconds).Cleaning out a blockage may be a bit too difficult for a majority of beginners. However, if you have an understanding about why things are happening and the process itself, you could eventually perform the task. At the very least, you can understand what the maintenance person needs to do. 

About the author

Don Miller

Coin-Op Sales and Service

Sales and Service

Don Miller has been selling and servicing Dexter equipment for more than 27 years. In that time period, his company has serviced other brands of equipment and accessory items found in laundries.


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