Sears Kenmore HE3 Washer Drum: The Rot

Corroded Aluminum Spider - Overview
Corroded Aluminum Spider – Overview

Our Kenmore HE3 washer emitted a dramatic KLONK that had all hands racing for the Cancel button. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, some Web searching, and a few hours of teardown, I determined that the washer had failed in the usual HE3 way: the cast aluminum spider connecting the back of the lah-dee-dah stainless steel drum to the shaft had corroded and fractured.

Now, class, let’s review our chemistry. What do we call a pair of dissimilar metals in an ionic solution?

Very good. Can you spell “battery”?

Bonus points: what happens to the battery electrodes as the current flows?

Excellent! I’m sure you can spell “corrosion”, too.

The stuff that looks (and feels!) like cheese is aluminum corrosion filling every nook & cranny in the back of the spider. The fact that the drum spins at 900 rpm tells you it’s rather tenacious gunk, but evidently we’ve been washing our clothes in corrosion products for several years.

If you have a Sears or Whirlpool HE washer, so are you.

Mary noticed the washer made a strange noise during the spin parts of the cycle, starting a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t anything you’d tear down the washer to diagnose. I’ll have more to say about that in a bit.

The KLONK happened when a third fracture finally disconnected the drum from the shaft and it started whacking against the outer tub. All that’s holding the shaft in place is the remaining thickness of the spider casting and the interlocking fracture pattern; I can move the shaft, but not easily.

Here are closeups of the three sections near the hub between the arms. Anything that looks like a crack really is one…

Corroded Spider - Fracture 1
Corroded Spider – Fracture 1

The next section has a nice crack running along the circumference, too…

Corroded Spider - Fracture 2
Corroded Spider – Fracture 2

And the third section…

Corroded Spider - Fracture 3
Corroded Spider – Fracture 3

I hauled it to the driveway and hosed off the corrosion. There isn’t supposed to be that little hole where the sun shines through…

Corroded Spider - After Rinsing
Corroded Spider – After Rinsing

The washer is six years old and cost $1100 new.

Needless to say, We Are Not Amused.

More on this as I sort things out. Search for HE3 and you’ll find more than you want to know (at least after I’ve gotten it posted).