Common washing machine problems, causes and cures

Common washing machine problems, causes and cures

Sometimes the simplest solutions can prove to be the most effective in dealing with washing machine problems. Before you decide to call a professional washing machine repair service, it might be to your advantage to try and understand why some of the more common washing machine problems occur. This can help you solve some of the more basic problems at home. Through this article we will try and illustrate some common washing machine faults and their cures.

Before you attempt to diagnose or fix any of your washing machine problems, it is necessary that you take all steps to ensure your personal safety. Always turn off your washer and unplug it from any electrical socket that it may be connected to. It may also be prudent to consult your appliance manual to gain a better understanding of certain machine components that can be potentially hazardous.

Washing Machine does not spin

Essentially, there are 2 specific conditions associated with this type of problem; either the machine does not spin at all, or it does not spin at high speeds.

In the first instance where the machine doesn’t spin, the primary cause could be blockages in the draining where water is not being evacuated efficiently enough. Ensure that there are no plumbing problems and that the lint trap is clear. If the trap is clear you may need to inspect the washing machine pump located near the base of the machine. It may be accessed via the front kick panel. This pump may need to be cleaned out to ensure that blockages are removed. You may also need to check the carbon brushes on your motor. Most machines utilize 2 carbon brushes and wear and tear is a common phenomenon. Ideally, they should be 25mm in length. If they are reduced to a size less than 10mm, contact with the commutator is not established and the motor will not spin.

The second condition refers to situations where the machine only spins at low speeds. This is a slightly more complex issue. Most new machines utilize a technology termed as ‘out of balance sensing’ that is responsible for the functioning of the speed control mode. When the machine senses that a load is out of balance, this feature is activated and causes the machine to spin at lower speeds. In most instances, this problem may be rectified by ensuring that your washing machine load is not too low or too high. Always make sure the load is evenly distributed and avoid overstuffing your machine or running the spin cycle with just a single item of clothing.

Washing Machine does not drain properly

In case of faulty plumbing or if the drain hose is not attached at an appropriate angle the washing machine drum may fill up with water that does not drain. Possibly the simplest solution is ‘gravity draining’. Move the machine to the nearest basin or drain. Make sure that the machine is elevated above the basin before releasing the drain hose. The natural force of gravity should allow water to drain away completely.

If this does not work, it could be indicative of an obstruction in the Drain Pump or Recirculation Pump. Inspect the front filter for blockages as well as the sump hose. If you are in the habit of using color catcher sheets make sure they are not trapped in the pump or filter.

Washing Machine Drum does not rotate

This can be quite a complex issue to deal with owing to the numerous causes that can bring about this condition. As discussed earlier, worn out carbon brushes can result in a motor failure that can prevent the drum from rotating. There may also be a more serious problem within the motor.

However, the primary cause for this condition is usually a worn out belt that may need to be replaced. The more recent washing machine models utilize a highly elastic stretch belt. Over time, this belt may slip away from the drive pulley or may actually snap. This could also result in a drum shaft or drum bearing fault which stops the motor from functioning. If the belt slips off the pulley and continues rotating at high speed there may be damage to some of the internal electrical components of your washing machine.

Washing Machine is Noisy

In most cases, this noise is indicative of an external object trapped in the machine. You can check between the inner and outer drums for objects such as coins, bra wire, or any other small items that may have been left behind in your pockets. Such items produce a characteristic rattling sound as the drum rotates at speed. 

Certain washing machine may utilize drum paddles that are responsible for 'lifting' the wash load. These paddles can come loose and create a noise during the wash cycle. They can also be easily damaged by any objects trapped within the drums. 

You may have to disassemble the sump hose or heater to gain access to the pump hole or heater opening to check for any external objects. 

In certain instances, you may notice a particular noise that has been getting more pronounced over time. This is generally symptomatic of a worn out Drum seal or bearings, and it is accompanied by a distinctive rumbling sound. You can check this by reaching through the door and rotating the machine drum manually. If the drum appears to move up and down easily, this is a giveaway sign that the bearings are damaged. This type of problem may also be caused by a broken Bearing Spider. 

Abnormal noises could also point to obstructions in the Drain Pump or Recirculation Pump. Check all filters and remove the pumps before cleaning them out. 

Washing Machine Bounces or Vibrates Excessively

A washing machine that vibrates excessively is generally indicative of a faulty installation. Ensure that the machine is located on a level surface and that any shipping pins or transit steps have been removed before running the wash cycle. Most machines 

have adjustable feet/supports that must be in contact with the floor to prevent the machine from bouncing. You may also be required to inspect the shock absorbers connecting the chassis to the machine drum to make sure they are not broken. Vibrations during the spin cycle may also be caused by the presence of defective suspension springs or snubber. The snubber resembles a pad and is either found below the agitator cap or below the transmission. If the pad is heavily worn out or the suspension spring within it is broken, your washer tends to bounce. Another common cause for vibrations is an unbalanced load (typically when the load is too light or too heavy). Some washing machines include a dead weight (metal or concrete) that is located under the drum. Check if the mounting bolts holding this weight in place are not loose.  

Washing Machine Stops or Sticks during a Cycle

This type of problem generally occurs when the program timer appears to get stuck during a cycle which prevents the proper completion of the cycle. At face value this might appear to be a simple defect with the program timer, which it could be. This may be easily confirmed by dismantling the control panel and checking the electrical contacts for signs of corrosion or scorching.

However, a more likely cause for this problem could be a defect with the thermostat or a non-functioning heater. This problem is also triggered when the machine cannot fill cold water for the rinse cycle or if water is not draining away from the tub. In general, the most common causes for the machine stopping are related to problems associated with draining and filling of the machine.  

Washing Machine Door cannot be Opened

A stuck washing machine door can prove to be extremely frustrating to deal with. Most washers have a door lock safety mechanism that prevents you from opening it while it detects the presence of water. This is to make sure that any chance of flooding is minimized. Most washing machines utilize a form of pneumatic safety lock to ensure that the door cannot be opened while there is water within the appliance. Drain all water from your machine before you attempt to open the door.

If the door still cannot be opened, it indicates a more serious defect such as a flaw in the lock mechanism. Some of the common causes of this problem could be a jammed door interlock, broken door handle or catch, a broken pecker (a gadget that tracks the drive belt motion), or dirt trapped within the pressure chamber tube of the pneumatic lock.

Switch off the machine and remove the lid before reaching inside the machine to try and release the door lock. (Do not try this with the machine plugged in as this is likely to result in electrocution.)

Washing Machine Smells Bad 

A recent phenomenon has been the number of washing machine owners complaining of a bad smell that seems to originate from their washers. This is the direct result of the popularity of the 40 degree wash cycle and color safe liquid detergents. As a result most people have completely eliminated the use of hot washes. A significant aspect of this change in washing habits is that the washing machine interiors are more prone to build ups of bacteria and other residues. It is this layer of bacterial deposits within your machine that is primarily responsible for the odor. Apart from the odor, this residue can cause corrosion to some of the internal mechanisms of your machine.

Most machine manufactures recommend that you run a maintenance wash at least once a month. This is an empty wash cycle run with the hottest water setting possible on your machine. You are advised to use a powder detergent with bleach (chlorine or oxygen) while running this wash program. This effectively destroys any bacterial build ups and sanitizes your washing machine.

It is also recommended that you wipe the door seals dry as often as possible and leave the machine door ajar to ensure proper ventilation and drying. It is important to follow any instructions provided with your detergent and avoid overuse of the product.

Another cause for bad smells is the back filling of dirty water from your dishwasher or sink. Make sure that if your drain hose is connected to a sink waste pipe, there is a non-return valve that prevents any back filling.

Washing Machine Does Not Start 

There are many potential causes for a washing machine’s failure to start. However, the first step is to make sure that the power outlet is functioning properly and that the fuse within the plug has not failed. If you have established that your washer is receiving adequate power, you can check on other factors.

If you are in the habit of using your machine for extended periods, it could be an issue of the machine overheating. In this case, you can wait for a period before restarting the machine. 

Most washers will not function if the lid has not been properly closed. These machines have a small lid switch sensor located in the opening present below the washer lid. This sensor is responsible for activating the lid switch when the lid is properly closed. If this sensor gets damaged or dislodged the machine may fail to start. 

Certain models of washing machines will not start until the water has reached a particular level. A defective water level switch will prevent your machine from running at all. 

Washing Machine is leaking

If your machine appears to be leaking make sure that the fill hoses have been installed correctly. The use of new rubber washers is highly recommended while you are installing these hoses. Make sure that the connections are not too tight. Leaks are common in situations where the drain hose has cracks or if there is a faulty connection where the water inlet valve is located. If you are dealing with a leaky hose, it might be best to simply replace it.

Sometimes leaks may be caused when there is excessive corrosion on the washing machine drum. If your machine tends to run with unbalanced loads, the constant pounding and friction can damage the internal surfaces of the drum. A defective washing machine drum seal could also be the cause of leaks.  

Quite often, you will find that some of the most common washing machine problems are caused by negligent or careless operating practices that may be easily eliminated.  In most cases, simple care and maintenance can be the most effective solution in preventing common washing machine faults




























Disclaimer: The information provided has been prepared as a guide only and the steps taken are likely to vary for different appliance models. We strongly recommend using a qualified engineer to undertake major repairs and fault finding.


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