In top-loading machines, the washer’s agitator moves the clothes in water and detergent to get them clean. The agitator also helps remove detergent from the clothes during the rinse cycle. The agitator typically turns clockwise about 3/4 of a revolution, then reverses direction. This process moves the clothes down the tub, then up again.
Not all washing machines have an agitator. In the US the two main types of washing machines are agitator washers and front loading washers, which don’t have an agitator. Agitator washing machines typically use much larger amounts of water, are rougher on the clothes, don’t clean as well and leave more residue in the clothes.
Tip: look for a washing machine agitator that has a lot of holes in the inner tub/basket. This creates better washing action.
Despite the drawbacks of agitator washers, they are still the most popular type of washing machine in the US, because they offer several advantages over front loading washing machines:
- The initial purchase price can be significantly less than a front loader, which typically costs from $800-2000.
- They wash faster.
- Ease of use. Front load washers require you to bend down, as the door is quite low to the ground.
- Front load washers require special detergent
- There are fewer brands and models.
- You can’t soak the laundry.
If the washing machine agitator develops any cracks or breaks, it is important to fix them quickly. If you don’t, it can cause rips and tears in your clothes.
How to Replace an Agitator:
Replacing an agitator is fairly simple.
- Remove the agitator cap. In some cases, you will also need to remove the fabric softener dispenser, which normally lifts or screws off. In some newer models, the agitator just lifts up and out.
- Pull up on the agitator. In some models, you may need to remove a retaining bolt.
- Replace the old agitator with a new agitator of the same model.
Other agitator problems include:
- Agitator doesn’t move
- Agitator only moves in one direction. In this case, the likely cause is the clutch assembly.
- Agitator movement is very weak