Do The Washing Machine Carbon Brushes Ever Need Changing?

The carbon brushes on your washing machine play an important role in the smooth running of your appliance. They are used every time you run your washer and eventually wear down.

In this article I will highlight everything you need to know about washing machine carbon brushes. Including what they are, how to spot when they need changing, how to change them and how to keep safe whilst doing it.

Keep reading to find out more.

What Are Carbon Brushes On A Washing Machine?

The carbon brushes are one of the most common parts of a washing machine to wear out. Every time you use the washer the carbon brushes are being worn down.

Carbon brushes transfer electricity to the armature of the motor. This causes the armature to spin, which in turn, via the drive belt causes the drum to spin. The brushes are spring loaded to ensure they are always in contact with the motor armature.

The reason they wear down over time is because they are always in contact with the armature. At some point the carbon brushes will wear down to a point where they no longer touch the motor armature.

This causes the drum to not spin at all and it’s at this point that the carbon brushes need to be replaced.

How Can You Tell If The Carbon Brushes Need Replacing?

open washing machine door

Before you rush out and get a replacement set of carbon brushes, you need to be sure that the current set has worn down. There are a few tell-tale signs that signify that the carbon brushes need replacing which are;

  • There are sparks coming from the motor
  • The motor only turns occasionally
  • The motor doesn’t turn at all

If you notice any of the above, you can be pretty confident that the carbon brushes are worn down and need replacing. You will need to know which type of carbon brushes are fitted to your washing machine’s motor.

Identifying The Correct Carbon Brushes

Washing machine manufacturers often use different motors for the same model of washer. So you’ll need to know the serial number of your washer. 

But this won’t guarantee that you get the correct brushes. You will also need to know the make of the motor which can be found on a sticker that’s on the motor itself.

Many manufacturers change the motor quite frequently and carbon brushes are not universal parts. So you need as much information as possible to ensure you get the correct brushes to replace the worn out ones on your washer’s motor.

How To Replace The Carbon Brushes On A Washing Machine

person repairing a washing machine

Once you have successfully identified the correct replacement carbon brushes for your washer, it’s time to get on with replacing them. 

Please note: Disconnect the power from the washing machine before starting to dismantle the washer. Even experienced engineers can and do get injured or lose their lives through electrocution.

Once you have disconnected the power supply you can begin following these steps;

  1. Check that the power supply has been disconnected
    Remove the plug from the wall socket or ensure that the circuit breaker switch is in the off position.
  2. Locate and access the motor
    The motor will be found at the back of the appliance, and to access it you will need to remove the back panel of the appliance and remove any hoses that hinder the removal of the panel.
  3. Release the motor
    Remove the drive belt from the drum pulley, then remove the earth tag and wiring block connected to the motor. Then remove the mounting bolts using a socket. You can then pull the motor away from the machine and remove it. Take care as there are often some sharp edges in this area.
  4. Remove the worn carbon brushes
    The carbon brushes are typically held in place by screws on either side. Take a photo of the old brushes in situ to ensure you put the new ones in correctly. Then remove the screws and remove the worn carbon brushes.
  5. Fit the new carbon brushes
    The new carbon brushes might have a clip or spring holding the brushes in the holder. You will need to remove this to allow the carbon to spring out and make contact with the motor. Ensure you fit the new brushes in exactly the same position as the ones you removed. This is where that photo comes in handy. Simply push the brush onto the commutator and the brush will automatically connect into the correct position. Then screw the brushes back in. You should always replace both of the carbon brushes at the same time, even if only one is worn down.
  6. Reconnect the wiring
    Once the new brushes are screwed into place, reconnect the earth tag and wiring block.
  7. Replace the motor

Once the new brushes are fitted and the wiring intact, it’s time to replace the motor back into the machine. Then reconnect the drive belt, refit the panelling and hoses. 

And that’s it, all done. 

Please note: This guide is for informational purposes only. All work done to your washing machine should be carried out by an experienced washing machine technician.

What To Look Out For When Replacing Carbon Brushes On A Washing Machine

Washing Machine

If there are signs of damage to the carbon brush holder this could have been caused by excessive sparking inside the motor. If the tip of the carbon brush has a piece missing, it was probably caused by the commutator bar or armature and this would mean the motor needs to be replaced.

If the washer has fused as well or tripped the circuit breaker, that would suggest electrical issues within the motor which also indicates that the motor needs replacing.

Plus, if you notice any damage to the brass holder it could indicate that the thermal fuse (TOC) has blown. If that is the case, it’s not as simple as replacing the carbon brushes any more. Unless you’re well versed in washing machine engineering, I would recommend contacting a professional.

SEE ALSO: Can Washing Machines Set On Fire? (causes, risks & how to stay safe)

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if carbon brushes need replacing in the washing machine?

If the carbon brushes need replacing in the washing machine, the drum will only spin intermittently or not at all, or there will be sparks coming from the motor. In some cases, the washer will fill with water, and empty as normal but the drum won’t spin at all.

How long do carbon brushes last on a washing machine?

Carbon brushes can last from 2 to 10 years on a washing machine depending on how frequently the appliance is used.

What do carbon brushes do on a washing machine?

Carbon brushes in a washing machine transfer power to the armature of the motor. This causes the armature to spin which in turn, causes the drum to spin.

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