The anatomy of a washing machine with a cutaway illustration of its parts
There are a few variations in clothes washers—some load from the top and others load from the front—but all washing machines are basically big tubs that fill up with water, agitate to scrub clothes, and spin to wring out the water.
Of course, in addition to these basic functions, they may have any number of sophisticated settings and controls. Most new types incorporate some type of electronic timer.
When buying a new washing machine, be sure to pay attention to the warranty. Be clear about both the term and the extent of the coverage. And be aware that some washing machines are much easier to work on than others. Some new types have a cabinet that is easy to detach and lift off for easy access to the parts.
There are a number of problems you can fix quite simply, but washers have a variety of devices that, when they go wrong, are best left in the hands of a qualified repair person.