Thread Number: 34002
Whirlpool washer burning smell
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Post# 510883   4/11/2011 at 18:28 (2,629 days old) by suds14 (Pittsburgh)        

I got my 69 Whirlpool washer running( I am trying to get a new a motor when I get some extra money). I washed 10 loads last week and it worked fine. This week on about the forth load I noticed a hot smell, however I do not think it is the motor because the washer finished the cycle.My mother had a Kenmore that after about three to four loads the motor would get a hot smell and then shut down mid cycle until it cooled down. I am wandering if the washer needs a new electric cord? The cord did feel warm where it goes into the washer, and the smell was more of wires burning than what I remember my mother washer smelling like when it would stop when the motor over heated. Any suggestions.



Post# 510919 , Reply# 1   4/11/2011 at 20:16 (2,629 days old) by StrongEnough78 (California)        

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All I can think of to do for now is run the washer with it pulled away from the wall, if possible, and the access panel removed from the back. Then when you notice the smell, just kind of sniff around what you think may be the problem areas to see where it's the strongest. It may sound a bit silly, but it's at least a start to see where the smell is originating and hopefully will help you find the problem.

Post# 510936 , Reply# 2   4/11/2011 at 21:05 (2,629 days old) by suds14 (Pittsburgh)        

The washer is sitting in front of the stationary tubs, and the back panel is off.
I also felt the motor yesterday and it was warm. It still has a slight smell today.

Post# 510945 , Reply# 3   4/11/2011 at 21:18 (2,629 days old) by StrongEnough78 (California)        

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Well the motor will be warm I'm sure from working. Now does the smell return only when the machine is being used, or even when it's just sitting?

Post# 510956 , Reply# 4   4/11/2011 at 21:55 (2,629 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
warm cord

the cord should not heat up where it goes into the washer-cord may have
broken strands from being flexed a lot there or there may be a bad connection
to the cord inside the panel and heat is being conducted through the cord
to be felt outside.

Post# 510982 , Reply# 5   4/12/2011 at 03:54 (2,629 days old) by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        
My sister once had a SMOKIN' KENMORE!

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--And to the point where she actually called the fire department!

It was her mother-in-law's old washer (a high-end model, in almond, before you got to the model w/ the Triple Disp. followed by the electronic touch-pad TOL) replacing the 5 Temp. almond Whirlpool her condo came with, which just BROKE! (But, I'm sure it could'a been saved!)

This was years ago... The cause was probably just an old seal under the agi' just giving out, admitting a slow water leak...

Rewind back, to even more years ago: A laudromat near by the drug store I used to work at had a fire (while I was in our parking lot getting shopping carts) and some of the customers (& some of the employees) had piles of wet clothes (& almost-dried clothes) they were standing by, while everyone else there probably wasn't as able to save their laundry...

The cause was probably a dirty dryer vent duct (Please be sure YOUR dryer vent ducting is FREE OF LINT!)

-- Dave (w/ my Joe Gagnon Safety Announcement)

Post# 511007 , Reply# 6   4/12/2011 at 09:36 (2,629 days old) by randycmaynard (Knoxville,TN)        
Funky burn odor....... Kenmore/Whirlpool

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This seems, at least in my experiences, to be common on older KM and WP washers. The '63 KM 600 that I got last year has sort of a funky burn smell that seems to be prominent everytime the machine is run - even the laundry as you take it out after a complete wash has a faint odor like that. I'm wondering if it's the belt or the fact that it needs to be rebuilt - the KM I got last year was in good/excellent shape since it had not been that heavily used prior to my getting it but it had sat in dry storage for a number of years before the lady I bought it from got it.

Additionally, it seems when I was growing up with the '63 KM 600 that my mother had I remember this smell as well and I'm wondering also if it's just the nature of the machine and how it operates that causes it. I've noticed the smell with mine but have noted no fire, smoke or otherwise during operation even doing several loads.

Post# 511008 , Reply# 7   4/12/2011 at 09:38 (2,629 days old) by randycmaynard (Knoxville,TN)        
Calling Gordon.........

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Are you familiar with the funking burn smell from KM and WP washers that we've been discussing above? I've noticed this several times on my '63 KM 600 and remember it on my mom's 600 when I was growing up. Thoughts??

Post# 511016 , Reply# 8   4/12/2011 at 10:15 (2,629 days old) by pierreandreply4 (St-Bruno de montarville (province of quebec) canada)        

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me i know what it is to have a burn motor what cause this sometime is an overloaded washer i had a 93 inglis whirlpool superb2 washer and the motor burn because the washer was overloaded

Post# 511020 , Reply# 9   4/12/2011 at 10:47 (2,629 days old) by KenmoreGuy64 (Charlotte, NC)        

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All -

I have never noticed a burning smell in a belt-drive, not unless something is wrong.

I try to monitor my machines as best I can, and from experience with that I can say for certainty, even when my 1986 Kenmore 70 was new and in my Mother's 1982 70 before that when it was new, it IS very common for the power cords to be warm from use, but they should not be hot. This past weekend the cord on my 1980 built machine was warm to touch, and it softened the insulation a bit and made the cord more flexible, but it was by no means hot. These machines can draw up to 840 watts when under load (spin acceleration is the most taxing) so the cord is going to warm up during that period.

There are a lot of reasons why an older machine may make some funky smells when running, but if the source is truly electrical, I would be concerned.

One thing I noticed with the machines I'm using that have been stored long-term in my storage trailer - it has a wood floor and a distinct smell inside. When I run a machine that was housed in that trailer (one or two were in it more than 10 years) you can smell the trailer when the machine warms up. This is odd because there is nothing in the machine except metal and plastics and I wouldn't think they would retain old odors, but clearly they do. Some of these machines I have completely cleaned, disinfected, and de-funkified, yet they still generate a faint amount of that woodsy smell from the trailer.

Randy - as to your machine, your noisy wig-wag may be producing some electrical scents when in spin since you're moving a conductive metal plunger inside a polarized electric field which is making that bizarre sound. You may also want to be sure the motor isn't heating up 40-some years of dust, belt-grime, and bug or rodent carcasses. Check the motor for overall heat - it should be warm, but not difficult to keep your hand on immediately after a load. It could need lubrication. The centerpost bearings could be hot also (take the agitator out after the final spin and feel the centerpost of the basket up by the drive block - if it's hot you need to lubricate the bearings).

Water dripping on a hot part can also create strange smells. One of my machines when I took it apart had a spider's nest and rodent droppings and seed shells everywhere.

It is never good for a Kenmore/WP to stop because the thermal element in the motor kicked it off. David - if you have a smell of wires burning, stop using the machine until you know what the issue is. The motor may have worn bearings, there may be drag in the pump, the belt could be stiff, or all the above.

I've seen this said before on as mentioned by others, but we should all be careful in assuming that we can take a vintage machine, and press it into service as it would have 30-plus years ago, and expect it to not have 'issues'. Fourteen loads in a week is a lot to ask of an un-tested or un-serviced machine. At least in my opinion.

But, after all this above, other than a warm power cord, your belt-drives should not be making 'scents' of any kind other than your laundry additives. Take a shop vac or a dust buster vac and clean-up cobwebs and lint build-up. Wipe away any oil deposits on the gearcase, and make sure wiring connections are plugged-in tightly.


Post# 511143 , Reply# 10   4/12/2011 at 22:02 (2,628 days old) by washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        

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And I was just recently playing with my '64 800 Series Kenmore (just running a dry spin cuz I don't have the water hooked up yet) and smelled smoke and opened the lid and to my surprise it was a smokin' Kenmore! I could smell and see the smoke. Not sure where to start...the motor?

Post# 511206 , Reply# 11   4/13/2011 at 06:02 (2,628 days old) by KenmoreGuy64 (Charlotte, NC)        

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Motor smoke would be coming out the back of the cabinet, or the top rear. If you had smoke inside the basket area, you either have a foreign object rubbing inside there creating friction and heat/smoke, OR you have dry centerpost bearings which are either heating up and causing smoke under the agitator by themselves, or they are heating the centerpost and causing build-up on it to smolder. Either way, I would ascertain your situation before I play with the machine any more. Running the bearings dry will wear them F A S T.


Post# 511230 , Reply# 12   4/13/2011 at 07:42 (2,628 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        

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The first step is to try to determine if it is an burning electrical smell or burning or hot rubber smell. The most likely BES would come from an overloaded or bad motor, unplug the washer take the back off and smell the motor. Other causes could be a bad timer or as mentioned the connection where the wring harness connects to the power cord at the rear of the machine, these did fail from time to time. 


Burning rubber smells were far more common on belt drive washers, all of these came from a failing or strained belt. It is not possible for the center post bearings and seals to get hot enough to actually smoke. Usually a washer with a loose belt would try to shift into spin and the strain of the cam bar shifting would cause the loose belt to start slipping at the motor pulley, the belt stop moving and the spinning motor pulley would burn through the belt in a matter of minutes. Many owners called the Fire Department when this happened, the user would open the basement door to check on the laundry and there would be smoke in the air and a strong burning smell. The other common reason for a not rubber smell is when the water pump would size, this usually allowed the motor and belt to keep running but because the belt was being dragged across a pump pulley that was not turning it would heat up the belt somewhat.

Post# 511241 , Reply# 13   4/13/2011 at 08:41 (2,628 days old) by KenmoreGuy64 (Charlotte, NC)        
It is not possible for the center post bearings and seals to

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Uh, yeah it is, I say this because I have had it happen myself during one of my first bearing jobs in the early 1990s where I failed to properly lubricate the spin tube and bearings. I had installed the lower oil seal upside down and the turbine oil leaked down to the brake pad of the basket drive. The new bearings were dry by the time I realized what I had done and they had so heated the centerpost that the tub gasket was wrinkled and distorted, the drive pads on the basket drive were smoking, and the centerpost was so hot it burned to touch it.

Since then my experience has been that in many older machines, they tend to loose their lubrication over time from years of standing un-used, especially when bearings begin to wear and gaps form in them, and a similar dry bearing condition develops. In one 1980-something Whirlpool I had in 1993, it's bearings were so badly gaulded from a rusted spin-tube, they literally broke out of the centerpost like china bits. I didn't even need a bearing remover, they were so damaged from being super-heated that I broke the debris out with a flat-head screw driver.

If the situation on the machine with the smoking basket is truly originating in the basket area, then I stand by what I said. If the smoke is coming from the lower part of the machine (which is not what the reply stated) then surely a belt or pump failure could be a cause.


Post# 511245 , Reply# 14   4/13/2011 at 09:33 (2,628 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        

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Hi Gordon It seems that your experience came from a bearing replacement job gone bad. I have never seen this type of thing happen in the field and drought I ever will. I have have done dumb things with appliances even to the point of setting a wall oven on fire when I miss-wired it, but I wouldn't suggest someone waste time looking for a fault that they will never experience in the real world.

Post# 511254 , Reply# 15   4/13/2011 at 10:26 (2,628 days old) by KenmoreGuy64 (Charlotte, NC)        

This post has been removed by the member who posted it.

Post# 511278 , Reply# 16   4/13/2011 at 12:44 (2,628 days old) by washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        

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Thank you for the suggestions...the smoke in my Kenmore was definitely coming from inside the basket, which seemed odd to me since I would assume smoke would emit from the motor...I'll have to do more investigative work.

Post# 511308 , Reply# 17   4/13/2011 at 15:49 (2,627 days old) by mixfinder ()        
Taking a Break

My great aunt had a 70 series Kenmore washer with a sudsaver she purchased new in 1972.  In the 90's I began to go once a week to help her with the house and yard.  Because she knew I loved to do laundry she would save it for me.  The first load was towels and kitchen linens, then underwear, permanent press, jeans and sometimes rugs.  On high her washer would just fill to cover the top of the Roto Swirl vanes so loads needed to be tailored to medium.  Her washer would begin to smell warm, like oily warm after the second load.  Once in a while it would simply stop, rest a while and then begin again.   It was the only Kenmore I ever encountered that did that.  There was just her and my uncle and she did laundry every two weeks so there would be enough whites to do as full load.  It wasn't as if the washer was ever over worked or overloaded in it's entire life so it remained a mystery to me.  The washer was still working when my cousin bought the house in 1998.  They are GE lovers and moved their filter flo set in and the Kenmores out.

Post# 511311 , Reply# 18   4/13/2011 at 15:57 (2,627 days old) by suds14 (Pittsburgh)        

The whirlpool is placed back against the wall and out of service. Back to using the Westinghouse. I doubt I'll ever use the Whirlpool again because I do not have enough experience to work on it. It was nice to have the suds saver for a little while. Thanks for all the help.


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