Fault Finding on Washing Machines

This article is not designed to provide you with solutions to faults in your washing machine, but is a guide on how to identify what the cause of the fault may be.  It is the first step in enabling you to work out the reason for the fault, rather than assuming it is just one thing.Before you can repair the fault, you must know what is causing the problem.  You should have a plan, and the following may give you an idea of how to identify and resolve the issue:

  • Where exactly is the fault
  • Can you access the faulty part
  • Once identified, you should test the suspected faulty part
  • Place an order for replacement parts
  • Fit the replacement part
  • Test the washing machine to ensure part is fitted correct

It is a good plan to follow, as many people assume what is wrong and mistakenly buy an incorrect replacement part, wasting money and still having a washing machine that is not working.

Where do I start?

You need to have a clear idea of what the washing machine is doing, or not as the case may be.  If it has stopped, whereabouts in the programme cycle did it stop, etc.  This information will be very helpful to pass on to either the service engineer, or whoever is mending the machine for you, if not yourself.  

This information will save time, and help to pinpoint what the actual problem may be. You should also identify the make and model of your machine, plus any additional information that is available on the rating plate.

Fault Codes

If you machine starts flashing a code, it is intended to attract your attention that there is a fault.  This usually just identifies the general area of the fault, but not specifically what the problem is.  You will need to work through the logical steps to help you identify what the problem actually is.

Washing Machine Manuals

Unfortunately, no such detailed manual actually exists. You will only get the normal How To book with your machine, identifying the different programmes on the machine, with a few basis hints/tips on the filter etc. The reason for this is that manufacturers are constantly upgrading their models, making it uneconomic for them to produce manuals for each model.  

The assumption is that if you are going to repair the machine yourself that you have a good idea of what you are doing, and do not need detailed information such as what screw goes where.  Alternatively they assume that if your machine is under Warranty, then you will call out a Service Engineer approved by your manufacturer.  If outside the Warranty period, you would probably call in the services of a more local professional washing machine engineer.

Accessing the faulty part

Sometimes the most problematic part of replacing a faulty part is actually getting to it in the first place.  The best advice is to give yourself plenty of time to get into the machine, as they are all very different, and you will need to locate every one of these pesky screws, paying particular attention to the many plastic parts you will find.  They are brittle and will very easily break.  It is definitely worth taking your time over this, as you could end up with a much bigger problem if you try and rush it, and end up breaking a non-replaceable component.

Testing the machine

The following routine will help to diagnose the problem:

  • Select programme
  • Press Start
  • Door will lock
  • Fills with water from the main soap compartment
  • Drum rotation begins
  • Fills to level
  • Tumbles in both directions to distribute the wash load
  • Starts to heat the water

If all this works, unless you have a problem with the water overheating, the machine is working well up to this point. If the programme stops at any point, you will have a better idea of where the fault could be.  If the power doesn’t come on in the first place, you will need to check that power is getting through to the switch. If the door lock fails, this will stop the programme proceeding any further.

As you can see from the above, at whatever point in the programme the machine stops, this will give you a good indication of what the fault is.

Replacement part 

Once you are happy you know which part has failed, you need to identify the serial number and any other description for the part itself.

There are many copy spare parts on the market, some of which are not as good as the authentic part.  It is a good idea to do your research thoroughly if you are not buying your part from an authorised dealer.  It is a good rule of thumb that if you find a part on line that is far cheaper than anything else you have seen, it may not be perfect and you could waste your time using that type of part, as it either won’t fix the problem, or won’t last very long.

Fitting the part 

This is a very useful checklist to use to help you through the process:

  • Check the part you ordered is the one you received  - sounds so logical but just because it looks right, it may be suitable for a different washing machine than yours
  • Check the part has not been damaged in transit
  • Double check that it is the part you need before proceeding further

The first two points above are very obvious but the third point is very important.  It is unfortunately very common for people to identify the spare part by sight from a photograph on a website.  The only way to order a spare part is by make, model and serial number.  This way, if you have used these details and you are sent the wrong part by a supplier, you are able to return it for a replacement.  However, if you have made a mistake, then your chances for a refund are much lower, as you would have had to remove all the packaging and some retailers will not accept returns where the packaging has been damaged if it is the customer’s fault.

Testing the new part 

Once you have fitted the new part, the first thing you need to do is test the machine by running through a programme.  Unfortunately if you still have a problem, or indeed a new one, I’m afraid the only thing you can do is to go back to the beginning and start again.

Safety First 

Safety First must always be to the forefront of any work on your washing machine, or any electrical appliance.  Before you touch anything on the machine, you must ALWAYS make sure the power is disconnected.











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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