How to Diagnose Washing Machine Problems With an Agitator

Older model washing machines and some newer versions have an agitator located in the center of the dishwasher tub. If you are having problems with the washing machine during the agitate or spin cycle or there are other wash or spin issues, the agitator may be to blame. Troubleshooting the problem can help you figure out if you can fix the issue or if professional help is needed.

Remove the Agitator

Do not wrap clothes around the agitator inside the washer, as this can create problems.

Step 1

Disconnect power to the washing machine and remove the fabric softener container if there is one on top of the agitator.

Step 2

Lift out the barrier cap and the O-ring from inside the agitator.

Step 3

Unscrew the bolt from inside the agitator and set the bolt aside.

Step 4

Turn the agitator in a counterclockwise direction and pull up to remove it.

Repair Issues

Step 1

Inspect inside the washing machine once the agitator has been removed if the water does not drain well from the washer. Look for small objects or clothes that have gotten caught and remove as needed. Note that if the item is caught below the agitator housing, special tools might be necessary to remove the other washing machine components. A professional should perform this task.

Step 2

Examine the interior of the agitator if the washing machine does not agitate at all or agitates very slowly. The interior of the agitator may be worn out and thus is stripping the interior spline. This prevents the spline from grabbing the shaft, turning the agitator as needed. If the shaft rotates but the agitator is not moving or is moving slowly, the spline may need to be replaced or the entire agitator will need to be repaired.

Step 3

Disconnect power to the washing machine and release the top console from the clips in the rear if the washer does not agitate and the agitator itself is not stripped. Use a Philips head screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the front corners of the console to the washer housing and tilt the console back on the hinges to access the interior of the console. Remove the wires from the water level switch inside the console and touch the purple and tan wires together. If the washer starts to agitate, then the water level switch needs to be replaced.


  • If you are not comfortable with disassembling the washer or working with the internal components or wiring, contact a professional for assistance. Do not attempt to disassemble or repair the washer if you are not confident in your abilities.
Continue Reading