Whirlpool makes a line of integrated automatic clothes washers and dryers collectively called the Duet. Both appliances in a Duet combo have drums – also known as baskets or barrels or tubs. In either the washing machine or the dryer, the failure of the drum to operate properly is usually the result of a snapped drive belt or a broken or corroded drum spider. Otherwise, the drum bolts may be shattered or, in the most unlikely of circumstances, the drum itself may have broken.
Your Whirlpool Duet’s broken drum may be the result of a broken drum spider. The drum in some models is held in place and supported by an aluminum -- or pot metal -- three-pronged spider. A pot metal drum spider is susceptible to corrosion over a period of time. According to the appliance repair website Suds and Service, the drum spider has an average life expectancy of approximately five years. After that, it is typical for the aluminum material to erode to the point where one or more of the prongs or arms will break, which is normally accompanied by a loud racket, rendering the drum inoperable.
A defective drive belt may also cause a broken drum. A washer or dryer drive belt can become loose enough to slip off, or it can experience enough tension to suddenly crack or break. If the belt manages to slip off, the machine may make regular operating sounds but will not function consistently. If the drive belt is cracked or broken, the drum will not turn at all and the machine may produce a screeching sound, which may be accompanied by a burning smell.
Broken drum bolts can render a washer or dryer drum effectively broken. The bolts hold the drum basket in place; if one or more of them has been put on too tightly, it can shatter during normal operation of the machine. This often produces a loud noise as well as machine tremors and shakes, and it may leave the machine inoperable or it may continue to attempt to turn. You should turn it off immediately in such a case. When you repair the machine, also clean up the gray dust that will have materialized under the appliance.
The drum itself can become broken as a result of overloading the appliance. Too much laundry, or improper materials, can put excessive pressure on the drum and can prematurely wear out drum rotator parts, the drive belt or fasteners. In addition, it is possible for blunt objects to become trapped in a washer or dryer drum, or for clothing to snag and inhibit the drum. It's not unheard of for a drum to get bent or broken due to improper force -- usually applied by someone being unwise. In such cases, usually replacement or repair is the only option.
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