Fixing the leaking washer

It's the door seal.


The washer started leaking this past week. […] Wonder if it’s as simple as the door seal (it’s a front loader) or if it’s the Whirlpool classic: a hole burned through the drain pump. I’ll find out soon.

I took the washer apart last night and found out: It’s the rubber boot that seals between the washer door and the tub. Because it’s a front loader, it spans the gap between the tub and the door.

Thankfully, once the dryer was moved off the top, getting to the boot seal wasn’t bad. The top panel comes off with the removal of three 1/4" hex-head screws, and the two retainer rings use a Philips bit and tension spring, respectively.

Top and front view of a partially-disassembled washing machine

The problem with this design is that the tub moves around a lot during the spin cycle. With the boot attached to a fixed point and a moving point, there’s a lot of stress on the rubber material, causing holes to form over time.

I found 3.

Two photos of holes in rubber gasket, side by side

I came up with an idea on how to handle this issue and keep shock absorbers for the drum: Mount the outer drum stationary and make it larger. Then add shock absorbers inside the drum:

Sketch of an alternative washer drum

The problem then becomes, how do you keep water and sludge out of the shock absorbers? Then I thought of 3 nested drums, but that’s too much.

I wondered how commercial washers handle this problem. I assume they’re designed to last a long time and put up with a lot of abuse. The two commercial brands I looked at, Speed Queen and Maytag, use shock absorbers under the drum.

Speed Queen mentions “dynamic balancing”, though it’s not clear from the picture how they accomplish that. I think the heavy flywheel in the back might be it.

I couldn’t find diagrams for Maytag, but they mentioned using 6 shock absorbers, which may keep the drum from moving as much.

Thicker rubber material may help prevent the holes, but the problem of the fixed point and moving point remains. It looks like the top loader washer design is superior in this area.

The new boot cost $200, and I added a $75 drain pan for the next time this happens in 2-3 years (the washer is about 3 years old). Hope it all arrives by this weekend.

I’m not sure the water savings (if any) are worth the extra costs with front-loaders.