Washing Machine will Not Agitate But will Spin and Drain

In these modern times when shopping, paying your bills, and talking to someone halfway around the world are at your fingertips, household appliances are still frustrating when they don’t seem to be doing what they should be doing. The inconvenience of a washing machine not functioning is a common problem that can be solved without spending a lot of money or calling your plumber or appliance manufacturer.

So what happens when your washing machine doesn’t agitate but spins and drains? Let’s get to the root of the problem in this article.

How do washing machines clean your clothes?

The washing machine is comprised of multiple parts that all work together to soak, wash, spin, drain and clean your clothes. The agitator mechanism of the washing machine is located in the center of the washer. This part of the wash basket twists and turns and moves your clothes through the water and soap allowing for clothes to rub against each other to remove dirt, particles, and stains. It also helps to remove most of the water from the clothes. The agitator literally rotates the clothes around the tub. Top-loading machines have agitators with fins or paddles.

Washing Machine will not Agitate but will Spin and Drain

Uh-oh, do I have a broken agitator?

If you sense that your clothes aren’t getting as clean as they once did, it might be due to a problem with the agitator of the machine. This machine part does wear and tear over the years, and it may need a DIY fix-it or ultimately get replaced.

So what is happening with the machine when the agitator isn’t operating properly? If the washer is agitating but spinning and draining, likely the transmission of the output shaft is faulty and splined. What does that mean exactly? The grooves that marry the shaft to the grooves in the agitator aren’t fitting together tightly, which is engineered to be locked into one another.

1. Check the lid switch.

To diagnose the agitating problem, manufacturer professionals suggest starting a load of laundry. Keep the machine lid open as the wash cycle begins. Find the lid door sensor switch which is typically located at the back of the lid. This switch is responsible for starting and stopping the agitator. When the button is depressed the door is closed and when the door is open the switch should be released. To see if your agitator is problematic, the first thing to do is to wait until the water has completed filling the basin. Then you will want to push in the sensor switch which should reset the agitator. If the agitator begins swishing then you can go about your load. However, if the mechanism doesn’t get activated you’ve got a broken agitator that will need repair. Set your laundry cycle to drain before doing any further investigation and repair.

2. Unplug your machine from the electrical outlet as you further diagnose your washing machine.

Safety first. If the lid switch is not defective, you’ll want to take a look at the motor circuit, its timer, and selector switch. Just saying it might be a good idea to pull out the machine manual and if you don’t still have that laying around, you can do a quick search online. There are plenty of diagrams that illustrate the washing machine.

3. The selector switch.

This is how the speed of the agitator is controlled. And, if this piece is not working, it may be why the agitator isn’t working. You’ll need a multimeter tester to check the selector switch. This device is used to measure electrical power: volts, amps, and ohms.

4. Take a look at the output shaft, spline, clutch assembly, and clutch dogs.

If the splines (plastic or rubber pieces) are weathered (usually from wear, tear, and age of the machine) try placing your hands around the shaft, and if the agitator can be easily rotated you will need to repair the shaft. Just dismount the agitator from the shaft or mounting. You will notice worn-down nubs and/or if the dogs of the clutch are worn, you can begin to understand why the machine is cleaning your clothes.

In with the new, out with the old agitator.

If it is time to update your washing machine agitator, you must do research on your machine model and where to buy the parts you need. Every machine is a little bit different and clearly, you want to purchase the exact part for your model type.

Removing the old agitator.

You can remove most agitators by first taking off the fabric softener dispenser which usually is located on the top of the agitator.

Remove the dust collector.

Next, you will want to remove the dust collector, which is secured by a rubber seal (at this point it is likely dried and stuck). Some DIY-ers say to spray a lubricant like WD40 around the edge for easy removal. You can use a pair of pliers to pull it off.

Replace the dogs.

Once the dust cap has been popped off, you will have access to the ½ inch nut and bolt of the top half of the agitator. This is the time to replace the dogs. Note that some machines may not have a dust cap and you can skip this step.

Pull the agitator out of the washer.

With the proper tools including a socket wrench with an 8-to-10-inch socket extension and a ½ inch or 7/16 inch attachment, remove the bolt from inside the agitator. With your hands, you should be able to lift the agitator right out of the washing machine.

New agitator

DIY-ers can easily install the new agitator by simply reversing the step outlined above. If your machine houses bolted agitators you put the new one into the basin and replace the bolt or screw, tighten it and add the agitator cap on top.

Power up your washing machine and get back to the dutiful chore of laundry.

In over your head?

Don’t be a hero if this job is getting too overwhelming. You don’t want to end up with a bigger repair. It might be more cost-effective to hire a plumber or appliance professional to do the job.


Here is a list of the recommended tools for removing an old or broken agitator from your washing machine.

Agitator for replacement (check the model of your machine to locate the exact agitator fit).

Agitator repair kits are available at local and national home improvement retailers, and online retailers including Amazon. Kits include instructions, agitator locking system or cam, cogs, dogs, bearings, thrust spacer, inner cap seal, and a washer.

  • Flathead Screwdriver.
  • Socket wrench or ratchet wrench, with extender.
  • 2×4 plank to use as a simple lever.
  • Spray lubricant such as WD40.

More washing machine related article at howtofixup

Why Is Washing Machine Not Rinsing Soap Out: Facts & Solutions
Washing Machine Making Noise When Agitating
How to Clean LG Washing Machine Filter Top Loader
How to Clean Water Inlet Valve on Washing Machine

Doing laundry may seem like a never-ending chore. But with today’s technology, it is fortunate we have machines working for us. Hopefully, in this article, you got to the chief reason of what is going on with your washing machine when it will not agitate but will spin and drain. Many washing machine owners choose to repair or replace the agitators on their own with some help from the internet, an agitator repair kit, and common household tools.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *