Appliance serial numbers contain more information than you may realize. That seemingly random number sequence conveys the model type, date of manufacture, and even where an appliance was made. Knowing the "when" is helpful for homeowners ordering parts, but it's also helpful for homebuyers who need to know how old the home's water heater or other appliances might be. The trouble is that every manufacturer has different serial number coding systems, and Maytag was sold to Whirlpool in 2006, making its codes less straightforward. Still, dates are generally the easy thing to deduce from serial numbers, as the significance of the remaining numbers varies depending on the model and appliance type.
Getting Started: Find the Number
Before you do anything, you'll need to find the serial number. Maytag has some suggestions to help you do that. It's best to take a picture of the serial number rather than just writing it down, as a photo will be easier to use as a reference. Look for a sticker. It can be white, silver, or black, but it will always have the model number, the serial number, and possibly other data. It's the serial number that will reveal the date to you. Usually, it's on the back of appliances or somewhere discreet inside. However, for Maytag machines made after 2007, there may be Whirlpool-style serial numbers because Whirlpool bought Maytag in 2006.
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Serial Numbers and Ages: Maytag
Once you have your photo of the serial and model numbers, you're ready to learn more. You'll need to refer to a chart, like this one, that details what the Maytag serial number means. Simply put, the Maytag serial number has numbers and letters, but it's the letters you're interested in. The Maytag "alphabet" system used a 24-year cycle, for which it uses 24 letters from the alphabet, with only "I" and "O" excluded from the alphabet system, because they can be mistaken for the numbers one and zero. Each letter in their alphabet system corresponds with one of two or three years that are 24 years apart. So, say the year code is "B" in your serial number; you'll need to deduce which of the chart's listed "B" years apply to when your machine was made, which would include 1966, 1990, and 2014. Whether your appliance was made in 1966, 1990, or 2014 should be apparent from its shape and style.
That said, the length of the serial number may vary. It's likely a minimum of nine numbers and letters combined — for instance, 16240783NR. Again, it's the letters that matter here. Consult the chart to learn the meaning of the two letters at the end (in this case, 'NR'); these letters shine light on the appliance's age. The first letter is the year of manufacture; in the case of "N," that's 1984 or 2008. The second letter, "R," indicates that it was manufactured in September of the respective year.
Serial Numbers and Ages: Whirlpool
From 2008 and beyond, there's a chance your Maytag serial number follows the Whirlpool approach since Whirlpool bought Maytag and began phasing out some of Maytag's serial numbers. If the number doesn't use the Maytag system, the Whirlpool method may help, but be aware that it's less straightforward, as the company now manufactures 14 brands of appliances, with varying dating systems.
The first letter is a manufacturing division code bearing no relevance to the appliance's age. The second character is less definitive, as it's often a letter, unless the machine was manufactured between 2010 and 2019, when the company used numbers from 0 to 9 for the years.
Either way, the second number or letter at the start of the serial number refers to the manufacturing year. The third and fourth characters indicate the week of the year in which it was built.
For instance, for the serial number M41402320, the machine was built by Whirlpool's "M" division in year "4," or 2014 in the 14th week of the year. This time, it's the alphanumeric combo of the first four letters and numbers that will decode your appliance's manufacturing window.