Saturday, January 28, 2012

Replacing the motor on a Maytag MDE3000AYW dryer...


About two weeks ago, one of these 1999 Maytag dryer models suddenly stopped working. You could push the Start button but all you would get is a low-hum. Suspecting that the motor died, I decided to open up the unit up to see if I could confirm the issue myself.  NOTE: apparently if you try to call a Maytag service person at this point, they'll actually charge you extra for being forced to figure out what you did!  It actually took at least 5+ hours to get this whole unit disassembled and reassembled, so also don't try if you really have a pressing need to clean your dirty underwear.  A technician may work faster too if you don't have all the tools are your disposal.

Maytag still keeps its information about these models online, and this particular model the links are posted below.  However, you won't find any repair guide, since the company normally recommends that you contact an authorized technician.  Nonetheless, you can get a list of parts information in case you want to get a rough estimate about the cost.  Pandora OEM, which sells off, can deliver your parts from Fresno, CA within a few days, and they even respond to email inquiries on weekends so double-check with them about your model before you order your parts. (Owner's Manual) (Dimensions Guide) (Parts List)

You can however find the service manual by doing a Google search for the Dryer Service Manual (16023110.pdf) for this model.  Background info: Apparently the way these models are named is that M represents the brand, DE represents an electric dryer (DG is gas dryer), 3000 represents the model no, A is the production code, Y = 240 volts, and W represents the color (white on white).

If you want some context about how to disassemble dryers for Maytag models, there are several YouTube clips that provide a good overview ( and do an excellent job explaining the step-by-step process). A dryer consists of a pulley system, a belt, motor, a cynlindrical tumbler for turning your clothes, a heating element, and a fan (along with a thermal fuses to keep you from burning the whole unit up). The videos make things a lot easier than they seem, but many of the aspects of taking apart a dryer especially related to the retaining clips and clamps were fairly consistent even with this older 1999 model.

A brief overview of many of the tools that I ended up using:

- Safety goggles and worker gloves
- Ohm-meter (for continuity testing)
- 5/16" socket wrench (and 7/8" if you actually want to pull off the motor pulley)
- Screwdriver
- Adjustable wrench
- Snap ring pliers (for removing the snap ring on the blower wheel)
- Vice grips (for removing the blower wheel clamp)
- Replacement motor w/ a motor pulley
- Optional: blower wheel & replacement belt (the blower wheel can be a pain to remove since it may be fused to the motor shaft after many years of use).

Disclaimer: do not try any of this work without the plug for the dryer disconnected.   You may also want to verify that your circuit breaker didn't accidentally trip and therefore is actually supplying no power to your unit (if you see a lamp on when the lid is open, chances are there is power).  In addition, verify that the thermal fuse simply needs replacing.  The thermal fuse can be seen at the bottom of the dryer, and you can use an ohm-meter to verify that there is still connectivity.  In other words, check everything before you decide to replace the motor since it's a fairly involved procedure.

In order to get to the motor, you need to first remove the hinges from the door (see Chapter 5 - Cabinet Assembly Components).  The hinges can be removed with a screwdriver, and the door can be pulled from the slots in the wall.   You can then remove the outer shell of the once these hinges and the screws attached to the door are removed.

Once you've removed the front door (see Section 6 on Tumbler & Bulkheads in the service manual) you can remove the front bulkhead by starting to remove many of the screws that you see.  What's confusing is that the instruction manual says "Remove the lowest outside screw at each corner and then the top screw on each side") in step 4.  What the manual is really saying is that there are another set of screws holding the tumbler in place, so the manual wants you to remove the screws that aren't attached directly to the tumbler.  By doing so, you'll disconnect the first layer of the dryer before you get to the tumbler.
There are also "hold down brackets" shaped as a horse-shoe that keep you from being able to lift the lid of the dryer. Once you unscrew the bolt from the bracket with a 5/6" socket wrench, you swing the bracket to the side (see Figure 5-5).  Chances are the bracket will fall out, so it's better just to stow them away somewhere.

The manual covers how to remove most of the front assembly, but basically you need to remove a lot of screws to even get to the tumbler and then to the motor. You'll notice that the tumbler actually is held in the front and the moment you start removing the screws, it may start to no longer align with the back of the dryer cabinet.

The tumbler itself may need to be removed, which requires you to crouch down and try to locate several pulleys in the back.  One is the motor pulley, which is attached the motor.  The other is known as the idler pulley, which is attached a spring and helps provide the tension of the belt.  You should be able to pull the idler pulley to the left, which will remove the tension from the belt and allow you to take it.  Consult the YouTube clips to see how it's done.   This model's instruction manual specifies explicitly that the belt should be ribbed-side down on the tumbler, whereas other models seem to indicate the opposite.

Once the tumbler is removed, you'll eventually get to the blower wheel, which amounts to a small fan at the bottom of the dryer.  You need to remove the blower wheel since it's attached to the motor shaft and the motor can't be removed until you detach this blower wheel.   Basically there are two clamps attached to the blower wheel: the retaining clip and clamp.  The retaining clamp usually requires snap-ring pliers to remove (Home Depot sells them for $20, but you have to make sure that the pliers can fit into the small holes of this retaining clip.  Orchard Supply Hardware carried a pair but the attachments were a bit too large.)  The clamp itself can be removed with vise grips.  If you squeeze the outer protruding edges, the clamp will actually expand (the video clips may show this point, but it's not exactly obvious since it happens so fast).

Make sure to keep the retaining clip and clamp, since they can be reused when reinstalling the blower wheel.  Once you've successfully removed the retaining clip and clamp, you'll need to remove the blower wheel itself.  The instructions in the service manual say to "work blower wheel back and forth while pulling off shaft...[and] may require considerable effort to remove the blower wheel."  The wheel itself may be somewhat fused to the shaft after so many years of use, so adding some lubricant (careful not to spray it elsewhere in the dryer, since the substance may be flammable) to help remove the wheel.   A replacement blower wheel can cost $20-$30, but makes it much easier to attach to a replacement motor so I'd highly recommend replacing it too if you're also planning to change the motor.

Once the tumbler blower wheel is removed, you should be able to see the motor.  There should be a plastic connector adapter that is attached to the motor that needs to be removed by pushing on both sides.  The connector is keyed to only plug-in a certain way, so you shouldn't have to remember which way to reinsert the connector when replacing the motor.  The service manual contains the resistance that you could measure from the controller panel to the terminal (i.e 3.00 Ohms from terminal 3 of the start switch to terminal 4), but I found opening another panel to be extra hassle and decided to just replace the battery to see if it would solve the problem.  There are YouTube clips that also show how you can create a test cord to verify the motor works independently, but there isn't an off-the-shell unit so you'd have to do soldering work and find a 220-volt three-prong adapter so I decided to opt against making one.

After the plastic connector is removed, the next step is to remove the motor.  There are two retaining clips on the two sides of the motor, which keep the motor in place.   You need to remove them by pushing down on one side of the tab, which will hopefully unlatch the tab.  Again, the YouTube links are a good place to see how to remove these retaining clips.  You shouldn't have to remove the screws attached to the base of the dryer cabinet, but it may be easier to manuever.

At this point you should check if you have the same replacement motor as the one you purchased.  Some motors don't include the motor pulley.  If you don't have the motor pulley with the replacement motor, you either ordered the wrong motor, especially for this model.  Other MayTag units seem to require that you take it from the old motor using an Allen wrench.  (For this particular brand, if you wanted to remove the motor pulley, you could use a 7/8" socket wrench and a wrench to hold one side of the motor shaft steady you loosen the screw attached to the motor pulley.  I wouldn't recommend spending the time since the replacement motor you ordered should come with it.)

At this point, you should have successfully removed the motor from the dryer.   Now you have to reverse the process and reinstall the replacement one.  There are several things that are key to know.  First, you may find it easier to remove the blower wheel casing that sits adjacent to the motor before installing the motor, since the motor has two cylindrical circles that need to be aligned with the motor housing.   The retaining clips need to be added, and you may find one side easier to latch than the other. The plastic connector on the battery terminal should then be reattached to this new motor.

Reattaching the belt also proved to be different from how the YouTube clips demonstrated, which often call for looping the belt around the idler pulley first before attaching to the motor pulley.  For this particular model, you actually want to follow the instructions specified in "Installing Drive Belt" which call for looping the belt around the motor pulley first.  You want to position the ribbed-side of the belt against the tumbler and you should loop the belt around the motor pulley first ribbed-side.   You then want to pull the idler pulley left and up (only pull to the maximum spring tension allowed) and attach the 
belt.  In this way, the remaining slack from the belt is taken up by the tension in the idler pulley.  You should be able to rotate the tumbler now and have everything rotated correctly.

You shouldn't have had to remove any electrical wiring, but if you inadvertently detached a cable, you should also check that wiring connections are correct.   For the dryer lamp, there are two connectors (one ground and one power), and one plug is bigger than the other, which makes it easier to distinguish between the two.   Since the door light controls whether the start switch can be used, you actually need to reinstall most of the unit to verify that your motor is successfully work.  You can obviously take shortcuts and attach the door without screwing everything back, but do it with caution.

The rest of the installation pretty much involves reversing what you just did.  Remember that the lint is flammable, so you would be well-advised to try to clean up all the excess lint in the dryer.   Remember that installing the clamp on the blower wheel requires that you use vice grips and squeezing the sides to expand the clamp.  In addition, adding the retaining clip on the blower wheel will require using the snap-ring pliers again.  Finally, you should verify the felt seals are resting on the outside of the tumbler before reattaching everything, which appear to be used to help reduce the friction between the metal cabinet and the tumbler. (You can check by rotating the tumbler and watching where the felt pieces rest).

You should make sure that everything works by carefully monitoring the dryer.  Although there is a circuit breaker that will trip, it's a good idea not to leave the dryer on when you're out of the house after this install process.  You may also wish to find a service technician instead, since this information should only be used as a reference.

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