How and why the carbon brushes need replacing in the washing machine

If you are familiar with motors in general, and specifically in washing machines, you will no doubt become aware that the motor in your machine is not working as efficiently, which is pointing you in the direction of worn carbon brushes.

It is well to remember that modern washing machines are maybe not as easy to access for servicing and repair work.  This is part of the built-in obsolescence thinking, particularly as prices of washing machines have reduced considerably, which results in a lot of people who tend to think they would be better off to replace the machine, rather than looking at the cost and trouble of the options of repair.

For people who do wish to look at carrying out a repair before replacement, but are not comfortable in carrying out the work themselves, can contact a local recommended service engineer, who will advise you what the problem is and how much it is likely to cost.  They should also be able to tell you how long they think the machine will continue to work once this work has been carried out.  Once you have all this information, you will be in a better position to make your decision on whether to repair or to start researching the best replacement washing machine that meet your needs.

Identifying the correct carbon brushes

If you have decided to carry out this task yourself, it is very important that you are able to identify the correct brushes for your machine.  There are so many available, it would be very easy to pick up the wrong ones.

Not only will you need the make, model and serial number of your machine, you will also need to open up the back of the machine and note the manufacturer of the motor. This is important, as some manufacturers don’t always use the same make of motor during manufacture.

Whilst doing this, it is always best to take the opportunity of checking that the existing brushes are showing signs of wear before proceeding any further.

Once you have satisfied yourself the work is required and you have all the  information, it should be a very simple process for you to obtain the correct brushes.

Fitting the replacement brushes

Don’t forget to carry out the normal safety checks before starting any work – switch off the machine and remove the plug from the socket.  The results could be extremely serious if you fail to take these basic precautions.

As you’ve already checked for the make of the motor, you know exactly how to get to it.  Before you start to remove the old brushes, you need to check the commutator on the armature of the motor.  As you will know, this is the part of the motor the brushes touch and is made up of copper segments.  You will need to check they look undamaged, and it is essential that you carefully clean the armature otherwise the new brushes may not make a good connection to the motor when replaced. 


When purchasing your new brushes, it would be a good idea to check that the supplier has a commutator stick, to assist with cleaning this area.  You gently push the stick onto the commutator and turn the motor by hand, once you have removed the old brushes.  This will then leave you with a clean surface for fitting the new brushes.  If you have an air-spray, it is a good idea to finish off with this.

Many brushes are fixed with two screws to the motor, located each side of the brush.  However some manufacturers, Hotpoint in particular, use a sprung slot-in fixture.  You will probably find a fine-bladed screwdriver and some gentle wiggling will do the trick.  When refitting the new brushes to this type of machine, you push the new brushes into place, then flick the tab up with a small screwdriver.  This should then move the carbon brush into the operational position.  Double check that they have been sited securely.

Once all this is done, you put the motor back together, and replace all the necessary nuts and bolts (crossing your fingers you won’t find any left over when you’ve finished!), and that should be it.

Its best to run through a rinse and spin cycle first to check that all is as it should be, before you load a normal washing programme.



Disclaimer: The information provided has been prepared as a guide only and the steps taken are likely to vary for different appliance models. We strongly recommend using a qualified engineer to undertake major repairs and fault finding.


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