A washing machine timer looks a little different from this kitchen timer, but the principle is the same: Timing is crucial.

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Timer Troubles

The timer controls most of the operations of the washer: water level, tub filling and emptying, length of cycles and cycle-setting sequences. For this reason, any repairs to the timer should be made by a professional service person. However, there are a couple of checks you can make yourself when you suspect the timer is faulty.

Step 1: Unplug the washer. To access the timer, remove the control knobs and the panel that covers the controls. This is usually the same control panel we discussed earlier, but may also be accessed be through a panel at the back of the unit. Carefully examine the wires that connect the timer to the other parts of the washer. If the wires are loose or disconnected, try pushing them into position; they usually fit into their terminals like plugs. Use long-nosed pliers to push them into position in order to avoid breaking the wire connections -- never pull a wire by hand.

Step 1: Unplug the washer. To access the timer, remove the control knobs and the panel that covers the controls. This is usually the same control panel we discussed earlier, but may also be accessed be through a panel at the back of the unit. Carefully examine the wires that connect the timer to the other parts of the washer. If the wires are loose or disconnected, try pushing them into position; they usually fit into their terminals like plugs. Use long-nosed pliers to push them into position in order to avoid breaking the wire connections -- never pull a wire by hand.

Step 2: To test the timer, use a volt/ohm meter (VOM) set to the RX1 scale. The RX1 scale is the lowest and should be the default setting of the meter. Disconnect the power leads to the timer and clip one probe of the VOM to each lead. The VOM should read zero if the timer is working. Since the timer is a multipurpose switch, turn it through its cycle and test each pair of terminals in turn. The meter should read zero at all of these points. If one or more readings are above zero, the timer is faulty and should be replaced.

Step 3: To replace the timer, unscrew and disconnect the old one. Install a new timer made specifically for the washing machine. Disconnect the old wires one at a time, connecting each corresponding new wire as you work to make sure the connections are properly made. After all the wires are connected, check the connections again for correctness and screw the timer assembly into place.

Now we're having some serious fun! Actually, you're probably thinking about which is more painful, reading about laundry or actually doing it. Take heart -- we're approaching the spin cycle and you'll be done soon.