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Washing machine leak repairs: this article describes both oil and water leak causes at washing machines. We discuss where oil may be coming from if it shows up on clothes after washing or on the floor under or around the washing machine. The article describes typical repairs at washing machine drums, baskets, and transmissions.
Here we also warn about building flooding and mold contamination that can result if a washer hose bursts while no one is at home. Links are included to related appliance diagnostic and repair procedures.
How to Diagnose & Repair Washing Machine Oil or Grease Leaks
Reader Question Pete said: [1/29/2014, originally posted at x]
My ejector pump went out and the basin was filled with oily water. Why? Where did that oil come from? The broken pump? which I replaced. Could my washing machine water which drains into the basin, have oil in it? Could that mean my washing machine is about to break down? Where did that oil come from?
Reply: common oil leak points at clothes washing machines
I'm guessing that the pump motor failed and you are seeing pump lubricants in the basin. Certainly a washing machine motor and transmission also contain oil.
Photo at left: a floor stain behind a washing machine. Feel this stain: if it's greasy the washer has an oil leak that needs to be diagnosed and repaired.
[Click to enlarge any image]
We've seen oil inside the cabinet or even on the floor beneath a failed washing machine. But how oil from components that are below the washer tub (the tub bearing, pump or transmission) enters the washer tub and from there would be pumped to a drain is more interesting.
A bad seal on a top loading or front loading washing machine tub may allow bearing lubricant into the washing water. I've seen this show up as surprising new black or dark brown stains on clothes that have ploveed through a wash cycle. A washing machine "hub and seal kit" can often repair this problem that may also show up as squeaks and squeals when the washer is running.
Conversely, I think that most transmission oil leaks (from a washing machine) drip to the space below the appliance. On some washer transmissions such as Whirlpool, there are two transmission seals, a top transmission cover seal and an input shaft seal - both of which can be replaced.
At below left we show a different washing machine leak problem: water leak stains on the under-side of subflooring beneath a washing machine that was leaking from a supply hose. At below right is an example of a sewage ejector pump where one might detect oil or grease from a leaky washing machine.
Some washing machine transmissions have a fitting through which transmission oil can be added, but doing so without fixing the transmission oil leak would be pointless IMHO. Replacing an entire washing machine transmission is possible (I've done it in the past) but the cost can be about half the cost of a new machine.
If you are not a do-it-yourself'er (or maybe even if you are) you may still be able to diagnose this problem far enough to decide whether or not to call an appliance repair person.
Look at the floor beneath your washing machine, look inside the washing machine body at the upper surface of its bottom floor (more trouble), and look in the washer as well as on clothes that went through the washer for signs of oil or grease stains.
Since we're talking about your sewage ejector pump basin (photo above), keep in mind that any oil source in the building would end up there. But the washing machine is a good start.
Keep us posted.
Risk of Costly Building Water Damage or Mold Contamination from Washing Machine Leaks
Watch out: for leaky or worn washing machine hoses connected to the water supply. Leaving home without turning off water supply to the washer can mean you return to a flooded building if one of these hoses bursts. Our moldy drywall (and clump of clothes dryer lint) at above left was caused by a small leak at a washing machine.
Our second photo (above left) shows a burst washing machine hose. This washer hose broke open when the building owners were out of town. The un-attended home was flooded and suffered extensive and expensive mold contamination discovered a week later when the homeowners returned.
Clothes Dryer Fire Hazard Warning
Watch out: as well while you are checking your clothes washing system, take a look at your DRYER VENTING instllation too: you want to be sure that system is safe as well.
A leaky washer transmission may stain clothes or leak onto the floor but an unsafe clothes dryer vent can set the building on fire.
Reader Question: oil leak at washing machine: how much does it cost to repair a washing machine transmission?
2 August 2015 Lucy said:
My washer is 19 yrs old. I just detected a brown ,greasy material under one side of washer .Is it worth repair or should I purchase new?
Reply: confirm that the washing machine transmission is shot, then consider replacing the washer: repair cost vs new washing machine cost
If the brown goop is from a leaking washing machine transmission the typical repair cost is a bit steep - typically around $500 USD for parts and labor, enough that I'd consider replacing an almost 20-year-old washer.
You'll see that the transmission part alone may be a bit under $200. but an expert repair will typically replace a few other parts to give a more reliable overall repair job. That plus labor is how we estimate around $500. for a new direct-drive washing machine transmission replacement job.
Shown at left, a Whirlpool® washing machine direct drive transmission replacement unit for sale at Amazon.com in 2015 at a price of about $130. USD.
You could buy a new Frigidaire washing machine for about $550. or a new Samsung washing machine at Amazon.com for under $650. making those choices appealing.
Before deciding to buy a new washer, take a closer look inside the machine you have. That will involve getting some help (as the machine may be a bit heavy) to disconnect the washer and move it to a spot where it can be opened from its back or bottom access panel. Take a look at the transmission that drives the machine to confirm that oil is leaking from the transmission.
You'll see a silver colored cast or casing that is typically below the center of the washing machine tub. If that component is oozing oil it should probably be replaced. Or it's time for a new washing machine, as we discussed above.
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 "Overheated Clothes Dryers Can Cause Fires, CPSC Document # 5022 Updated June 2003", U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, www.cpsc.gov., websearch 11/25/2011, original source: cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5022.html
 "Electric and Gas Clothes Dryers, Staff Evaluation and Contractor Report", US CPSC Memorandum, 25 Feb 2000
"Report on Electric and Gas Clothes Dryers", U.S. CPSC Memorandum, 25 Feb 1999, the Clothes Dryer Project, March 1999
 UL Standard 2158, voluntary standard for electric clothes dryers
 ANSI Z21.5 1 (CGA 7.1) voluntary safety standard for gas powered clothes dryers
 "Healthy Indoor Air for America's Homes, Indoor Air Hazards Every Homeowner Should Know About - room by room assessment", U.S. Government Publications, web search, 11/30/2011, original source: http://publications.usa.gov/epublications/indoorair-hazards/assessment.htm More about this information source, quoting the US Government website: ... Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) has been a trusted one-stop source for answers to questions about consumer problems and government services. FCIC, part of the General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, has traditionally provided publications to consumers via the publications distribution center in Pueblo, Colorado. The Pueblo.GSA.gov website was where consumers could go to find information and order publications on a variety of topics from the federal government. Publications.USA.gov replaces the former Pueblo.GSA.gov.
 "The Facts About Clothes Dryer Exhaust Systems", John Cranor, the ASHI Reporter, April 2005,American Society of Home Inspectors,® Inc., 932 Lee Street, Suite 101, Des Plaines, Illinois, 60016, Tel: 847-759-2820, website: ashi.org, original source: ashireporter.org/articles/articles.aspx?id=161
 Tjernlund Residential Capacity Dryer Duct Booster®, "Dryer Duct Booster Fan Model LB1, Installation Instructions" [PDF], Tjernlund Products, 1601 9th Street
White Bear Lake, MN 55110-6794 , (800) 255-4208, web search 01/06/2012, original source: tjernlund.com/dryer_booster.htm Quoting:
The Dryer Duct Booster®, Model LB1, has been specifically designed to boost residential capacity clothes dryer duct exhaust velocities
where dryer duct runs exceed 25 equivalent feet. Proper exhaust velocities will reduce drying times, save energy and prevent lint
buildup in the dryer duct. The LB1 is controlled by an electronic Pressure Response Control (PRC) for automatic operation. The LB1
utilizes galvanized steel construction, a reverse inclined, particulate handling impeller that is guaranteed not to clog with lint and
an externally mounted PSC motor for trouble-free operation.
"About the House - Bathroom Vents", Henri deMarne, New England Builder, November 1985
"Bathroom Vent Fan Beats Open Window", James Dulley, Poughkeepsie Journal, 11/4/1987 p. 12D.
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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