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Whirlpool Washer F28 error

Model #WFW8500SR01icon, this front load Duet sport washer was working just fine, until the customer noticed the washer just stopped in the middle of a wash cycle, and displayed an F28 communication error. Cycling the power cleared the error and water would drain from the pump, but each time the unit was started again, it would initially act normally, then simply turn off the display with every displaying the error message again.

Error messages from appliances can be a great help in diagnosing a problem, but can also lead you down an expensive path of part replacements if you don’t also verify the errors. Most error messages are accurate in that they display what was going on at the time of the event to trigger the error, but are far from absolute in providing proper diagnosing information.

This washer had stopped working and another technician had visited the machine on the initial call. He was able to power up the control board, and even retrieve the error codes from the unit. With this information, and a call to the tech line, he ordered a control board and door lock based on the error messages. But upon his return, neither part solved the problem and the customer was still left with without a washer. During the third visit to the customers home is when I became involved in the call, but I decided to take a different approach to solving this problem.

The first techs conclusions were accurate, because based on the behavior of the machine, the control board was a logical choice. A door lock error gave an indication of a potential problem too, so installing a new lock was not unacceptable. He even contacted Whirlpool tech support for some advice, and given the information at hand, they came to similar conclusions about the failure. It all seemed to make sense, but installing the parts wasn’t getting us any closer to a working machine.

During my visit to the home with a second tech that got the task of installing still more parts, I began my own troubleshooting process to answer the questions in my own mind. It is important, for any techs in the audience, to do your own work and not skip steps simply because another tech already put in the work. In the diagnostic mode, the control displayed the F28 error and the F26 door lock error, but it would not advance the cycle past the initial locking of the door and burst of water from the valves. If a normal wash cycle was started, the same steps would occur, but two minutes later, the display would turn off as if the cancel button had been pressed.

Given the nature of the F28 error, which indicated the two boards are no longer talking, I stared to look at the connections on both the motor control and main control boards along with the wiring harness between the two. No problems were found, but I then had an opportunity to speak with the customer and started asking those probing questions we techs like to ask. In describing the events that lead up to the failure, the customer said the machine was washing just fine, but suddenly just stopped. The customer was able to get the door open and found standing water in the tub so she initiated a drain cycle to clear out the water. This worked, but the basket never spun the water out of the clothes. This was good information, but the important piece to me was that the F28 was being displayed. With this last bit of the puzzle found, I headed for the motor controller.

Motor control boards are used on front load washers to simply control the motor. Most of these motors are three phase AC or DC motors which means they have three windings instead of just one. By properly applying current to these three windings, the motor controller can spin the motor in both directions and at a large range of speeds. The motor controller can also apply the breaks to the motor to slow it down using nothing but electricity.

Given the customers input, I was sure the motor controller was the problem. The F28 had not occurred again, but the fact the unit simply stopped working, then displayed the error, told me the motor controller lost power, which would explain the motor stopping, and also the communication problem. Once the motor controllericon was removed, a closer inspection revealed the reason for this power loss. Fortunately, we brought a new board with us and had it installed in no time. With all the connection being made, power was again applied and sure enough, the wash motor started tumbling the basket around.

There are a few key points I wanted to point out about this call. The information provided by error messages is good but not great. The reason for the door lock error was most likely because when the customer shut off the unit after the F28 and then turned it back on, the control will try and lock the door. But since it was already locked, the customer would continue to attempt to open the door which results in an informational error being displayed. Also, the first tech never asked questions of the customer. These questions and their responses will provide much more information than any error message and diagnostic cycle ever could.

Troubleshooting is a process that can provide great satisfaction when done right. Avoid taking short cuts or skipping steps and you will find the rewards will be greater.

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