It would not surprise many people in the trade to hear me say that a lot of people think that replacing carbon brushes in their washing machine will cure all ills, but it doesn't and it's perhaps not just as straightforward as you think.
In days of old carbon brushes where pretty unreliable things, induction motors in washing machines through the seventies and early eighties seemed to be far more reliable. On the upside however most brushes in this era where they were used were generally very easily replaced.
Hotpoint brushes are made very, very easy as the motor was mounted at the top, so you only had to take the lid off them to change the carbons and Hoover, even though the motor was slung underneath the outer tank, was still not exactly a challenge to replace.
This image shows the usual set of Hotpoint carbons, but be aware as not all are of equal quality
But they don't cure all faults and not all machines have them. Some machines even use a combination of induction and brushed motors so it's well worth checking what you have first.
It is also worth noting that times have moved on from those days of old and that carbon brushes (well most) fitted these days to a modern machine are a totally different breed. They tend to last much longer and give less grief than the old Hotpoint and Hoover washing machine motor carbon brushes.
It is also very well worth being aware that not all parts are equal and some of the "replacement" carbon brushes are just terrible. Terrible quality and a terrible fit. You can find out much more by reading this article about the quality of appliance spare parts
First thing is safety! Yes I know, it's terribly dull and we do go on about it a bit at UK Whitegoods, but we've seen trained professionals harmed, maimed and one or two even killed over the years and we really don't want our customers placed in harm's way. So, power off, machine unplugged and then investigate.
Before you go buying a set of carbons check the ones that are in the washing machine first. Make sure that the existing ones have worn down or look to be damaged in some way, usually this is pretty evident from a visual inspection.
Here you can see the motor brushes, in this case with red holders, in situ and touching the commutator of the armature. In this case it is a Servis washing machine motor but the same principal applies to all.
Next have a look at the commutator on the armature of the motor, this is the bit that the brushes touch and is made up of copper segments. Make sure that these are not raised (Hotpoint's are famous for that) and that they appear undamaged. Generally you will noticed that they appear to be more worn where the brushes make contact with the armature and to clean this you need a commutator stick which we do sell in our online store from this link. If you don't clean the armature up (blowing off excess carbon dust with one of those air-sprays is a good thing to do as well) then the chances are that the brushes will make poor contact and therefore the motor won't run as well or as efficiently. There is also the risk that the new carbons will get chipped or damaged due to tiny bits of dirt and an uneven surface and not last anywhere near as long as the original carbon brushes did.
Before you order carbons make sure that you know the model number of the appliance, the serial number and also take a note of the make of motor. The make of motor you will normally find printed on the label stuck on the motor itself, in many machines, such as Indesit, Ariston, Zanussi, Tricity Bendix, AEG and a few other manufacturers this is absolutely essential information to track down the proper carbon brushes you will need.
The reason for the make of motor is that quite often, especially Indesit and Ariston etc., will just change what motor that they used in production, seemingly on a whim and we have to try and suss which carbon brushes are actually correct.
The more information that you have the better that we can help you and, quite often, the cheaper we can get the carbons you need.
You're now ready to order the parts.
This link will take you straight to the washing machine section of our online shop where you should be able to find any parts that you should need. If what you are after isn't there please just drop us an email with what you need and we will respond pretty quickly with an answer.
Listed there are the most commonly used carbon brushes, but there are many more that are easily available to order by simply sending us an email and you can contact our spares department with what you require and we will gladly help you.
Whatever the machine, if the parts are available we'll get them.
But remember, if you're not sure please just ask and we'll point you in the right direction.
By now you will know where the motor is so you should also know where the carbon brushes are located.
In many more modern machines where there seems to have been less thought put into how it will be serviced, you may well have to take the motor out to get to the carbons. Usually extracting them is pretty straightforward, but take your time and be gentle in case you cause damage to anything that you don't mean to.
Many carbon brushes are fixed with two screws, one of either side of the brush holder, directly to the motor. Notably Hotpoint use a kind of sprung slot-in affair on the older GEC motors, a fine flat blade screwdriver and a bit of wiggling will soon have them out though.
Of course at this point, once you have removed the old carbons, you need to clean the commutator with your comm stick. You do this by (with no carbons in) gently pushing the comm. stick down onto the commutator and turning the motor by hand. This cleans the surface in preparation for fitting the new carbons.
The one thing to watch out for when refitting new carbons to a Hotpoint GEC motor is that they have a little sprung tab on them. What you do is push the new brush in and then flick the tab up with a small screwdriver, this then releases the carbon brush itself into an operational position but please ensure that they have popped out correctly.
Once you have the new carbons back on simply, as is famously said in the Haynes manuals, you carefully re-assemble the motor and get it back into place if applicable and that should be it, job done.
All that's left to do is to test the machine and I'd advise that you run the machine through at least a rinse and spin cycle to make sure that the new carbons are in okay and work without a load in the washing machine before testing with a load.