KitchenAid Troubleshooting

by Beth on May 31, 2010

Or, how we took apart and reassembled my KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer.

sad and lonely

If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you know that I love my KA Artisan stand mixer and that I use it ALL THE TIME for just about EVERYTHING. This kitchen workhorse has a permanent place on my counter and it’s been one of the focal points of our kitchen since we moved here five years ago. I asked for a KA because they’re supposed to last forever, and do just about every kitchen job. Or so I thought.

Last year when we were making the wedding cake, Eileen noticed that my mixer ran much, much faster than her Artisan. In the six months since then, my mixer has just started to run faster and faster. After Amelia’s birthday cake nearly exploded in my face while mixing last week (the mixer went from off to waaaay too fast!) I had had enough. I decided to stop ignoring the problem and get it fixed.

So I called the KA *customer experience center*. After three attempts, I finally got through, and the woman I talked to told me that since my mixer was out of warranty (that only lasts 1 year) it would be $32 for me to mail the mixer to them, plus a $25 diagnostic fee. The repairs would likely be over $100. Frustrated, I told her I would think about what I wanted to do next. I went to SeriousEats and posted a query there, to see if anyone had suggestions. Some very nice people posted links to a couple of tutorials on how to take apart your mixer. I read them, thought it didn’t look too hard, and then decided to take my mixer apart. In the end, I’m glad we did. I seemed to fix the problem, and it only cost about $10. And that was for the solvent to clean off the old grease and for the new grease to regrease the machine.

shiny stuff off

KitchenAid Deconstruct and Repair

If you’re worried about taking your mixer apart because you think you’ll break it, don’t. The whole thing is pretty solid, and there aren’t a ton of teeny tiny parts. The whole thing comes apart with a couple of screwdrivers and some patience. I am not handy at all and my husband is a bit handier. But my husband and I took the whole thing apart, cleaned it up, and put it back together in a couple of hours.

What you’ll need before you start:

Something to protect your work surface (we used a brown paper bag on my white countertops)
Small and Large Phillips Head Screwdriver
Small and Large Flat Head Screwdriver
Hammer
Popsicle Sticks
Paper Towels
Oil Solvent (we bought some that came in a can at Home Depot)
All-Purpose Grease (this came from an auto parts store)

Visit this site for an awesome step by step tutorial on how to get your mixer apart. Although the author has an older, classic Kitchenaid, his steps still work for taking apart your Artisan. Also, he has some great tips for regreasing.

Look at the manual for the Artisan here. This will give you a good idea of how it all fits together, and when you’re putting it back together and can’t figure out where [insert part here] goes, this will help you out.

Visit this site, which talks about how to replace the worm gear on a KA. I started this whole process thinking it was my worm gear that was busted. It wasn’t, but I’m glad we looked at this, because you have to take the whole gear tower apart to clean it, and this helped us get it back together.

Okay, Let’s get started!

Use the instructions on the first website to take your mixer apart. This is really just a bunch of unscrewing and popping off of the shiny silver bits. I recommend that you also take off the base off your mixer. This will make it easier to handle the head when you’re cleaning it out.

be careful of the wires!

As you’re taking the mixer apart, be mindful of the wires at the back of the machine, especially the ones that connect into the plug. These are your main power source, and unless you’re an electrician, if you break em, you’re buying a new mixer!

cracked open

Here is my first look at the cracked open mixer. Yeah, that stuff’s not chocolate or cake batter–it’s gross, thick, sticky, tar like grease. I don’t think it’s supposed to look like that either. Clean grease looks like Crisco. This stuff was not anything like Crisco–it was more like that stuff that’s washing up on shore in the Gulf from the oil spill. Inside my mixer. Don’t think that’s help the mechanical operation at all, do you?

Close ups of the inside:

Main gear tower

main gears

Top cover

top of the mixer

After you get to this point, it’s time to clean it up. You want to do this outside, because solvent it noxious stuff, but it’s the only thing that is going to get the mixer clean. Don’t use water, because it won’t remove the grease and it could damage your motor. Make sure you clean out all of the original grease, including any stuff that is stuck down in corners. We just kept spraying solvent until our mixer was clean, whipping out the inside with a paper towel to remove any solvent residue.

The cleaned up inside, after we let it air dry for a couple of hours:

worm gear

See that white-ish gear? It’s the worm gear, which I thought was what was broken on my mixer, but it was fine. Worm gears are often what breaks though (they’re designed as a fail safe to keep the engine of your mixer from breaking) so if you open your KA up and it is broken or sheared, don’t panic, you can order another one online for fairly cheap.

Top cover

all clean 2

Now, it’s time to put it back together. But first, the grease.

grease

We used this white all purpose grease we bought at an auto parts store. The grease says it’s for all uses, including kitchen uses. You can also order KA brand grease from them, but we decided to use this.

You want to grease up all of the mechanical surfaces really well, making sure you get grease in all the nooks and crannies. Anywhere there was grease before, you want to reapply it. With the gears, it’s a good idea to grease as you reassemble them to make sure it’s in there really good, and that you turn the gears to make sure the grease is well distributed.

greasing up

really well

grease all moving parts!

As you’re greasing, you’re putting the thing back together. If you can’t remember where something goes, don’t panic, just look at the manual–it will tell you where to put it.

When you get to the point where you’re ready to put the two halves together, make sure you wipe around the edges so you don’t get grease where the two halves join. This will just make a mess! Carefully fit the two halves together. The seal will tighten once you put the screws back in.

reassembly

Now, if you’re having the same problem as I did [loss of speed control] the solution to that problem is actually at the back of the mixer body, behind the first panel you took off during your deconstruction. If you move the speed control lever, you’ll see that the black piece at the back of the mixer moves in and out as you move the lever. There’s a screw at the base of the panel that helps to control the tension of the panel. If the screw is too far in or out, your speed control won’t work properly.

the speed control screw

After some trial and error (and some microscopic turns of the screw) we discovered that the screw has to be about 1/4 unscrewed for the speed mechanism to work properly. Our guess is that this screw can jiggle itself in or out if you’re making something that puts a lot of strain on the mixer (like say, bread or marshmallows). I’m planning to keep this in mind so I can check the screw after I make something heavy duty. That back panel pops right off, so it’s easy to check on the adjustment. Just make sure the mixer is unplugged first!

back in operation!

So now the mixer is back together, and back in operation. I made cookie dough yesterday and everything worked great! So happy I decided to give it a go and troubleshoot my KA!

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Susan May 31, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Wow – great job !!

Melinda May 31, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Holy cow! I can’t believe you did that. Thanks for the step by step guide/pics from the adventure. Should I ever have an issue with my KA, I will use this information. Ours is only 1 yr old, so I hope it doesn’t break any time soon. I heard over here that even though they convert the house from 220 to 110 for our American things, it messes up the electronics. I hope nothing gets fried out!

Amy May 31, 2010 at 4:31 pm

I wish we had had this post like a year ago… our “worm gear” broke and it literally took 6 months and over $100 to fix it… for one tiny plastic gear. It was so aggravating. Glad yours fixed so nicely!

Beth May 31, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Amy–I’m so sorry to hear that! But not surprised. My research unearthed a whole bunch of people with broken worm gears. I hope this post helps others avoid costly repairs!

kate May 31, 2010 at 5:09 pm

wow, and to think there’s just people who pay to send it in! good for you for figuring it out, and what a great tutorial.

Wendi May 31, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Beth, you got skills my friend. I doubt that The Mistah and I would get through such an exercise with much grace. So how about if my KA ever needs a repair, I call you and Noel over?

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best May 31, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Beth, this is extremely helpful! It’s amazing how much we can fix ourselves if we do a bit of research and try.

Beth May 31, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Wendi–LOL! I think we only made it through okay because Noel really didn’t want to shell out several hundred dollars for a new mixer right now!

Christine–I hope this helps someone else. I was in a panic when I thought the mixer was done for. But it was a surprisingly easy fix.

Jessica Lemmo May 31, 2010 at 9:08 pm

If mine ever breaks I calling you and I will pay you to fix it :)

Debbi Does Dinner Healthy May 31, 2010 at 9:46 pm

That is awesome how you fixed that! I wouldn’t even know where to start!

Jen May 31, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Beth, I am so impressed. I suck at this kind of stuff. It’s hard for me to even follow pictures. But now I know I have some place to turn if my KitchenAid goes up!

Elizabeth June 1, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Beth and Noel can do it all!! Glad to know this for future reference. :-)

Tracy June 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm

This was great to see. My Artisan weeps a bit of grease if I work her too hard. I’ve been thinking for a while that I should do something about it. Good to know that it’s easy to take apart and put back together.

Sook June 2, 2010 at 1:32 am

Whoa! That is amazing! Good job!

Liz June 2, 2010 at 11:52 am

Awesome! I’m saving this should I ever need it!

Michelle @ Find Your Balance June 3, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Awesome! That’s so great it worked! Looked yucky inside…

sonny December 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Beth,
Im assuiming that your mixer was broke in the first place for you to take the time to disassemble your unit. So what exactly was wrong with your mixer prior to opening it ?
Mine wasnt running at all in any speed. Enlighthen me please.
thanks

Beth December 16, 2010 at 6:14 am

my mixer had lost all speed control and was just running fast. I thought the worm gear was striped.

Apti September 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I was referred to this link by a fellow member of CakeCentral.com. WOW!!! This is fabulous and I really, really appreciate all your photography and step by step instructions and links. I will bookmark this and tell people on another cake site, Wilton.com, about your tutorial.

Thank you again!

Beth September 6, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I’m glad this tutorial helped. Thanks for sharing it with others.

Mate December 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I bought my KichenAid pro(itsays 5KPM50) at the junkyard here in Croatia for 30kn(or and ever5$). The guys there thought I must be crazy. The cable was cut off, so I first dismantled top part to reach whats left and after connecting again found that it’s dead. Since I’m not much of an electrician and even if I knew that THE FIRST thing to check are the brushes, I took it to the basement an took out the rotor and everything. I found huge amount of plain machine grease in the head that I didn’t like. Got wiser, asambled the whole thing back together and found that I forgot where the wires on the regulator plate come. Made a few blackouts in my flat, than after painful web search found your fotos. You MADE MY DAY, because in a minutes, with some brush holders hacking, the damn thing was running. Good work guys, keep on, and thanks a lot.

Heather December 25, 2011 at 9:11 pm

My husband found that the top two screws actually set the fine speed better than the bottom screw. Thanks for the article I would’ve never known to look.

Dana December 31, 2011 at 12:49 pm

My mixer was making some loud grinding noises and the last three or four speeds were all the same. My husband decided to take it apart to try to figure out what was causing the issues. Once apart he couldn’t find anything wrong so he put it back together and it sounds fine now and all of the gears work….strange! However, the little “drip ring” that pops off when taking it apart won’t pop back on….it just slides back off. Any suggestions?

Jason February 5, 2012 at 11:22 am

Mine was too fast but I found actually that the two nuts holding the back mounting plate were loose and one fell out trying to see what the adjustment screw did.
Before finding this site I had pulled out the motor brushes. Putting them back in you need to notice the little nubs where the corner cut goes. Otherwise it doesn’t run.

brian April 1, 2013 at 9:03 am

Thanks for doing this and all the other comments, they are very very helpfull. My mixer is 30 years old and runs at one speed, it needs a good tune up. Good thing its a repairable item. thanks again.

roger logan October 31, 2013 at 10:24 am

how to take motor off from stand

Brenda January 12, 2014 at 9:48 am

I just purchased a KA artisan 325watt from ebay. One thing it said in the condition of it is that it runs loud. Now I don’t know what ‘loud’ interprets to until I get the machine but I have good information from this site on how to trouble shoot it when the time comes. I’m hoping it can be resolved easily without great expense. With your tremendously helpful information, I think my husband will not go through the roof. We can’t afford the repair of damage to the roof.
I was trying very hard to be economical by using ebay. I am a first time bidder and purchaser so I’m apprehensive as h**l.
Wish us luck!

Richard January 13, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Hi Beth. How did you get the gear out at the front. The one that the meatgrinder or flour mill plugs into?
My mixer just ground to a halt and I figured I better get inside before the motor fries.
Looks like that gear is seized from lack of lubrication but i can’t get it out.
Is there a retainer ring or something I’m missing?
Thanks.
Richard.

Brenda January 15, 2014 at 5:34 pm

I received my artisan 325 watt today and started it up. It doesn’t run LOUD, it squeals an ear splitting sound. This can’t be good. Trying to decide whether to return it right away as is or try to repair it.
What do you think?

Laura February 23, 2014 at 9:02 pm

I would sure return a new one that didn’t start up! I’ve had a K45ss for 30 years now. I only recently had to regrease it for the first time, ever! The food-safe grease from parts places costs a little more, but I think it will be worth it, if it lasts as long as the first batch. The grease that wasn’t touching the gears looked unused.

Laura February 23, 2014 at 9:04 pm

P.S. : Great tutorial, photos are very helpful! Here’s a link to a service manual that is also very helpful, if you are doing other work on your mixer.
http://www.kitchenaidparts.eu/documents/pdf/service-manual/classic-svc-manual-new-email-version.pdf

Megan March 28, 2014 at 1:08 pm

I recently took my KA apart to re-grease as the grease had overheated and separated and was leaking. The OEM grease is a yucky brown color. There is nothing wrong with it, that just how it comes. There is supossed to be about a fist sized amount of the grease in the gearbox. The food-safe grease i bought to replace the old grease was also the same brown color.

No more grease has dripped since I replaced the old grease. :)

Talia June 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm

I had the same problem with my mixer running too fast on the first speed and making a grinding noise- I was ready to buy a new mixer and figured after 15 years, mine was just worn out! I came across your post and decided to pull the back cover off just to check- I tightened that screw and problem solved! Thank you for posting this!!!

Leanna Rathkelly September 2, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Thanks! I found this article 4.5 years after you originally posted it, and it helped me fix my mixer! My artisan mixer (same red color, too!) was running on high speed only. After a lot of research and before I ordered a new phase board, your post saved the cake. The culprit was the screw at the base of the panel, and I had inadvertently tightened it too much. After loosening it, voila! Speed returned to normal. Thanks so much for your help.

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