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Common Washing Machine Problems

If you have a problem with your washing machine we'll help you identify the fault and give you advice on how to repair it.

 

Why Won't My Washing Machine Turn On?

There’s nothing more frustrating than a washing machine that won’t turn on. There are several common causes of the problem and, luckily, they are often easy to fix.

Check the Power

It sounds simple, but we’ve all overlooked a lack of power at some point! Check that the washing machine is properly plugged into the wall and that there isn’t a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse (if there is they’ll need resetting). You should also check that the washing machine door is properly closed, as machines won’t start if the door isn’t secured.

Faulty Door Interlock

As mentioned above, washing machines won’t start if the door isn’t properly locked (or isn’t registered by the machine as properly locked). As a result, a faulty door interlock could prevent the machine from starting. Watch the following video for a step by step guide on:

how to replace a faulty door lock

Faulty On/Off Switch

Another cause of the problem could be a faulty on/off switch. Check the power light if fitted – if the switch is faulty, you will need to replace it.

Faulty Module Circuit Board

A faulty module circuit board could prevent your washing machine from turning on – in this case, you will need to get it professionally repaired.

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Why is My Washing Machine not filling?

Is your washing machine not filling with water? Find out how to identify and fix the problem with the below trouble shooting tips.

Turned Off Water Valves

Unplug the washer and slide it out from the wall, so that you can access the hot and cold water valves and check whether they are switched on. Open the valves if they are closed.

Kinked Inlet Hose

If the inlet hose has become kinked then water will not pass through.  Sometimes it is better to replace the hose because the kink has become permanent.

Faulty Inlet Valve

Check at the back of the machine, where the hose screws on at the back. If the water supply is ok but your can hear a humming from the water inlet valve then it is most likely faulty and needs replacing.

The Water Supply is Turned Off

If a local water company is carrying out maintenance, the water supply may be temporarily turned off. In this case, you’ll have to wait for the supply to be turned back on.

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Why Won't My Washing Machine Drum Spin or Turn

If your machine machine drum has stopped turning then it will often appear to the user that the washing machine has failed completely and appear dead.  However,the washing machine should still be filling with water and pumping out water but the drum will not be going round.  Following the steps below should help you identify the problem and ultimately fix it!

Drive Belt

If the washing machine drum won’t spin or turn, check the drive belt, as it might have broken. If it has then it will have fallen away from the drum pulley and will most likely be found on the floor.

How to replace a washing machine drive belt

Motor Carbon Brushes

Carbon brushes are in constant contact with the moving part of the motor, so they get worn down over time and will eventually need replacing.

Your carbon brushes probably need replacing if the washing machine motor is spinning intermittently, very slowly, or sparking, in addition to the case where it won't turn at all.

To access the motor, and thus the motor carbon brushes, you should remove the back panel. The carbon brushes are solid, usually in black plastic holders, or attached to springs which clip into place in the sides of the motor.

When replacing carbon brushes, you should make sure that the new brushes match the angle of the old brushes.

For more detailed advice and information on washing machine carbon brushes, see our help guide 'Washing Machine carbon brushes - all you need to know'.

How to replace washing machine carbon brushes

Motor

The motor failing is not a common problem, so it’s best to check the other causes above before replacing the motor. If it has burned out, it will need to be replaced.

The motor can be found attached to the outside of the tub (the plastic cylinder which surrounds the metal drum). Switching off the power before attempting to locate the drive motor is, as ever, extremely important.

It can usually be accessed by removing the back panel.

Motor Control Module

The motor control module provides power to the motor, so another possibility for the machine not spinning is that the motor board might be defective. It also provides force and direction, so a faulty motor board will mean that the washer won’t function properly.

The motor control board can usually be found in the control panel or at the bottom of the machine near the motor. Be sure to turn off the power before you go hunting for it!

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Why is My Washing Machine Leaking?

A leaking washing machine is an irritating problem to have, but it can be tempting to simply leave a few cloths around the base of the machine and call it a day. Needless to say, this is a ‘fix’ which will lead to major problems in the medium-to-long-term.

A leaking washing machine will cause water damage, and usually worsen the problem causing the leaking in the first place as you continue to use the machine. Here’s how to find and fix the problem at the source, once and for all.

Finding the leak

If your leak is large, it will be pretty obvious where it’s coming from. Major sources of leaks include the soap drawer, the door and the filter, with leaks from the drain pipe and pump occurring less frequently.

If your leak appears to be small, it may not even be a leak. Test for this by placing layers of newspaper on the top of the washing machine before starting it up. If the newspaper gets wet, you’ve got water coming from above the washing machine and dripping down, rather than leaking out from the washing machine itself.

A similar method can be used to identify the sources of smaller leaks. Attaching small swatches of newspaper below potential problem points (the soap drawer, door and filter) will indicate where the problem lies, as the newspaper closest to the source will be made damp. You can use sticky tape to fix the newspaper swatches in place.

Leaks in the Soap Drawer

Leaking from the soap drawer can be due to two different problems.

A blockage in the dispenser hose or drawer means that soap powder has accumulated within the soap drawer or hose, and water won't be able to enter the drum. Eventually, excess water will overflow the front of the soap drawer.

The simplest solution is to clean the soap drawer. Remove the drawer and clean thoroughly with warm water in a sink, until the blockage is gone. If some of the powder is caked on so thoroughly that it has become difficult to remove, leave the soap drawer to soak in very hot water and try again later.

High pressure is a more difficult washing machine problem to fix. If your washing machine water pressure is too high, you can try locating the tap on the pipes which your washing machine’s hoses connect to and turning it half-off as a quick fix.

If this doesn’t fix the problem, or causes other problems elsewhere, you may want to install a water-pressure regulator. This part is also known as a water-pressure-reducing valve, and does exactly what you’d expect it to.

Leaks in the Door

Leaking from the door is almost invariably due to the door seal.

Occasionally, the problem will be minor — something as small as a loose thread or a clump of excess detergent can prevent the door from sealing properly.

To be sure that this isn’t the problem, gently wipe the door seal with a j-cloth and warm water.

If you have a hole or tear in the door seal, you can usually find it by pushing on the door seal to inspect it. If you have a hole or tear, unfortunately you will need to replace the seal.

How to replace a washing machine door seal

Leaks from the Filter

Blockages will not typically cause a filter to leak — instead, check for damage to the seal on the filter.

Unscrew the filter to check it for damage. If the filter seal has been damaged, the part will need to be replaced.

Leaks from the Drain Pipe

A leak caused by the drain pipe should be easily identifiable, and can result in a major leak.

A leak can be caused by your drain pipe if it gets block causing water to back up and flow out through the washing machine, or if there is it has perished and has a hole in it.

Leaks from the Pump

Leaks from the pump will normally require a replacement as individual seal cannot be purchased.

How to replace a washing machine pump

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Why Is My Washing Machine Making a Noise

Drain Pump

Item caught in pump

The majority of pumps fitted to washing machines in recent years are an integral part of the filter housing (note: some machines don’t have filters at all). Small foreign bodies can get into the filter by slipping through the gap between the outer tub and the rotating drum. Items such as pebbles (after that wonderful day at the seaside), coins and small screws or nails - to name a few.

These items can then pass from the filter into the pump chamber where the pump’s impeller will ‘whiz’ the object around the chamber making a loud rattling noise - think blender, putting a screw in the blender’s container would give a similar effect.

Pump impeller sheared or loose:

The pump’s impeller rotates at a tremendous speed in order to expel the water from your washing machine. Consequently there is quite a strain put on this small part. The impeller will also have to cope with pushing small pieces of debris out along with the water. Mostly, the impeller will cope with what it is expected to do, but on occasions it may come loose and begin to make a noise and is likely to eventually break away all together.

Pump bearing worn:

The pump’s impeller is attached to a shaft or rotor, this rotor in turn passes through a bearing to ensure smooth rotation of the impeller. This bearing is not a conventional ‘roller’ bearing but rather ‘bronze’ bush and will sometimes become worn, allowing the rotor to rattle around within the bearing. Inevitably this will create a noise which becomes louder the more use the machine gets. Eventually the impeller may seize.

How to replace a washing machine pump

 

Noise Coming From Drum Area

Drum Bearings Noisy:

The probability is that your drum bearings are causing the noise. There are a number of straight forward ways to check if this is so.

Remove the rear panel of your machine, remove the belt from drum and motor pulleys. Doing this will allow the drum to rotate freely without turning the motor. Put your hand inside the drum, take hold of a drum baffle and ‘spin’ the drum. It should now rotate freely without any obstruction. If you hear a continuous rumbling noise then it is likely to be the drum bearings.

Another check for faulty drum bearings is see if the drum moves up and down relative to the outer tub which houses it. Position your fingers at 12 o’clock on the drum’s(the part that rotates) front lip, which is just inside the door, push upwards to see it there is any movement from the drum. Remember, the whole tub/drum unit is meant to move back and forth on its suspension, you are checking for looseness of the drum alone, up and down.

If you suspect the drum bearings to be a problem, another quick way to indicate this is to look on the floor below your washing machine. If you find a black or brown patch then remove the back cover of your washing machine and inspect the area just below the centre of your drum pulley. If the same coloured marks are streaking down the rear of the outer tub, this indicates that the drum bearing seal has gone letting water enter and corrode the bearings.

Drum support shaft sheared:

The rotating drum is held in its potion by a component called a drum support shaft or drum support spider consisting of three metal alloy arms and a steel shaft which protrudes through the drum bearings enabling the drum to rotate.

The arms attach to the rear of the drum at the points where the baffles are in place. Looking through the door to the back of the drum, you will observe three pressed shapes radiating from the centre to each baffle point - that’s where your drum support shaft is housed.

These shafts do shear and the impact is immediate, the consequent noise is quite alarming for the simple fact that it is so sudden. Just inside the door opening, hold the tub down with your fingers at the 6 o’clock, rotate the drum so a baffle is at 12 o’clock, then push up the drum to see if you can detect a spongy movement of the drum.

This movement may be evident for one or maybe two arms. Another indication is when the drum rotates you might observe an obvious misalignment between the rotating drum and the static outer tub.

Foreign body caught between drum and tub:

Another noise that is not uncommon is caused by a coin or some other foreign body that has got between the outer tub and drum. This will mainly be heard during the spin when the water is being forced out of the clothes and whipping up the object/s. Bra wires are a favourite because over time they force themselves out of their position in the garment, easily getting through the holes in the drum. They will make a distinct tinny rattle as they scrape against the rotating drum.

Motor Noisy

Motor bearings worn:

Worn motor bearings are less common and more difficult to isolate for the untrained ear as it has its own distinct sound.

If there is obvious wear in the motor bearings then one can attempt to distinguish between these or drum bearing noise by removing the back panel and taking the belt off the motor/drum pulleys. Rotate the drum to see if any noise is detected, if not, now rotate motor pulley for any signs of obvious wear and noise.

Miscellaneous Noise

Loose tub weight:

If you hear your washing machine begin to knock and you also find a grey dust appearing under or around your machine, stop using it immediately.

Within your machine there are usually two concrete tub weights which are there to weigh down the machine, they stop it from bouncing around during the spin cycle, and preventing it from destroying itself in the process. One is bolted to the top of the tub and the other to the bottom front part of the tub.

This can be very serious, the tub weights are very heavy and when loose enough they will rip away from the tub during spin cycle usually destroying their brackets and rendering your machine uneconomic to repair.

Transit bolts or packaging not removed:

Another uncommon reason for a noisy machine that’s worth mentioning - but it does happen, is the none removal of part or all the transit material. This can be bolts or packaging such as polystyrene. The material is fitted to the machine so that the internal tub is kept static so no damage occurs to the internal components of the machine during transportation.

If your machine is new and it begins to vibrate excessively to the point of moving, then consider checking that all the bolts and packaging have been removed. It may have been installed by untrained delivery staff, so worth checking.

Check underneath your machine as often large pieces of polystyrene are placed there to protect the motor and can easily be forgotten.

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Why Won't My Washing Machine Door Open?

If your washing machine door won't open it will at first appear to be disastrous.  But the problem is usually easily resolved and below we'll take you through the most common causes.

Washing Machine is Still Full of Water?

If your machine is still full of water then watch the following video on:

how to drain the water from the machine and get the door open:

Broken Door Handle

A failed door handle is quite common and can usually be identified by a loose handle whereby you no longer feel any resistance when pulling or squeezing it. What generally has happened is; the part within the handle that moves the handle latch unlocking the door from the machine has broken away. The handle will need to be replaced.

There are a couple of common reasons why this might happen which the user can take steps to ensure it doesn’t occur:

  • Refrain from slamming the door.
  • If the door does not open easily when the handle is operated it may still be locked due to the delay at the end of a cycle or is still in the cycle, give it more time and if it still does not open there is likely a problem elsewhere so don’t keep pulling on the handle.

Door Interlock Switch Failed

Another reason for the door not opening may be due to a failed door interlock switch. This switch is operated by the door latch - the part that protrudes from the opposite side of the handle that inserts into the machine when the door is shut.

The latch is hook shaped and spring loaded enabling it to hold the door closed. It also causes an electrical connection to be made to the rest of the machine and, in the process, locking the door allowing safe use of the machine. If the interlock switch has failed it can cause the door to be locked shut permanently and will need replacing

Another reason can also be due to the slider of the door interlock switch which is the locking mechanism, becoming jammed. It’s therefore worth trying to see if this is the case by pushing against the door around the handle area firmly into the machine which may well release the slider and allow the door to be opened. Not common but does happen.

Some door interlock switches will not allow the door to be opened unless the machine is empty of water. If your machine at any point stops operating and is partially filled with water you will need to drain it before the door can be opened.

Child Lock Engaged

Modern machines now have their wash programs selected electronically via a control module or power board depending on how the particular manufacturer describes the component. More often than not they have a child lock function available to the user. It is not uncommon for this function to be selected inadvertently and is usually indicated by a lit ‘key’ symbol if your machine has a console display, or a key symbol on your machine’s console panel with an indicator light adjacent to it. Refer to your instructions for your particular machine.

Motor Mounted Safety Pecker

Some older machines have a mechanical device mounted on the motor which interacts with the drive belt. If the door handle or door opening button is operated while the belt is moving then the device would not allow the door to be opened. This device may have been damaged or has fallen away from the motor.

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Why Is My Washing Machine Door Seal Black and Mouldy

Why Has Black Mould Become a Problem?  Remember in the olden days, your mum or granny would do most of their washing on a Monday and would start with a 'boil wash'. With the advent of the automatic washing machine coming into common usage this tradition continued until we were encouraged to go 'Green', saving energy and reducing carbon emissions. Today the vast majority of us do our laundry at a temperature of 40 or 30 degrees - and this is when the problems with smelly washing machines and black mould began to increase.

What Causes Black Mould to Appear On Door Seals

The root of the problem is a build up of bacteria inside your washing machine. The low temperature washes create a cosy environment for the bacteria to grow and multiply. The residue left by this growth then allows the mould to grow.

Also, because of these low temperatures, residues from detergents, grease etc from your laundry, remain in your washing machine creating the conditions for mould growth.

It's not only door seals that are affected, black mould will also be found to build up in the dispenser draw and housing where the detergent and softener are placed.

These two places are observable by the user but areas out of site will also be affected.

How Does the Bacteria Get Into My Washing Machine

Inevitably, it is mainly introduced by the laundry we are washing. These items of laundry will have been in many environments, becoming soiled by many differing stains.

  • soiled bed linen
  • washable nappies
  • dog fouling remains on clothes
  • toilet mats
  • pet's bedding and towels
  • greasy overalls

I'm sure you will be able to add to this list. So if such items of laundry as above are being washed at low temperatures then they are very likely to leave residues inside the machine on which bacteria will survive and thrive.

Consequences of Bacteria and Black Mould Build Up

It is unsightly to begin with and may become a health hazard. Mould can also release spores which have the potential to irritate the lungs when breathed in.

If the build up is excessive it may be transferred onto the laundry as it is removed from your washing machine. These marks may be difficult to remove from clothing.

Excessive build up will inevitably become slimy and begin to smell. This may also occur in areas which are not observable by the user causing a stale fusty smell when the door is opened. This smell can also be transferred to your laundry.

Sheared drum support shafts have become a real problem usually causing the washing machine to become uneconomic to repair.

The residue of bacteria build up is a jelly-like substance which fills up the cavities in the drum support shaft arms. The support shaft arms are made of a metal alloy which is kept wet by the residue. This begins to corrode the arms and because acids are created by the detergent this enhances the corroding effect. Over 3-5 years this weakens the arms until, on some machines, the arms will shear during spin.

You will know its happened as a sudden very loud noise will come from your machine during spin and even smoke may appear as the lip of the drum now rubs against the door gasket creating this smoke through friction. All washing machine manufacturers are affected.

How You Can Reduce The Problems

  1. Because these problems have mainly arisen due to low temperature washes becoming the norm, it is now advised that a maintenance wash be carried out once a month. Select the highest temperature, add some limescale and detergent remover and let it do a complete wash without any clothes in the machine. This will go a long way to keeping the build up of bacteria and mould growth under control.
  2. Use a quality powder detergent, liquid detergents do not contain oxygenated bleach which helps keep bacteria at bay. Remember that detergents for coloured clothing omit the oxygenated bleach also. Cheap powders will be made up of cheap components so are not as effective. Use the correct amount of powder for your water hardness.
  3. Remove the dispenser draw from your washing machine and clean it and its housing regularly with warm soapy water. Use a pan scrubbing brush or old tooth brush to get deep into the housing.
  4. Dry the door gasket after every wash - bacteria needs moister to form. Keep it aired by leaving the door ajar if possible. Once the black mould appears on your gasket it is unlikely you will be able to remove it. A new gasket will be required.
  5. Hard water areas! Use a descaler regularly to remove build up of calcium deposits. Deposits can remain damp which in turn attracts the growth of bacteria and unpleasant aromas.
  6. Washing machine cleansers have also been developed to help rid your washing machine of greasy, slimy deposits. It’s also worth using one of these on a regular basis.
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Why Does my Washing Machine Smell?

Washing machines are decent machines to work on yourself, as they are relatively large, relatively simple machines which have relatively large, relatively simple problems. As such, fixing problems with washing machines can be both satisfying and easy.

Unpleasant smells emanating from the washing machine is one such big, simple problem – albeit a problem which could be due to several reasons.

Smells tend to come from a prolonged and/or inappropriate use of the machine.

Unpleasant smells could be caused by a build-up of bacteria or mould. If this is the case it shouldn’t be ignored, as it’s a potential health hazard and could cause problems for people with sensitive skin or mould allergies.

Grease and grime can build up as a result of washing on a low heat. This can corrode vital parts of the machine.

Using liquid detergents or washing with colour-friendly detergents can lead to a build of grease, as these detergents do not contain any bleach.

It’s tempting to think that adding more than the recommended amount of tablets or powder will result in a better clean. This is a mistake, as doing this – especially at lower than recommended temperatures – can lead to lead to a build-up of dirt rather than grease.

You can counter problems of dirt or grease by running at least one maintenance wash. This involves running your machine with no load at 60 degree heat (+), using a heavy-duty detergent that has bleach (and that means no liquid or colour-friendly detergents).  For best results use a recommended limescale and detergent remover.

Preventing washing machine smells building up can be helped along by making sure pockets and pouches are free of lint, coins, wallets and passports before committing the offending items of clothing to the machine – this also prevents you from losing valuable passports, wallets and coins.

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Why won't My Washing Machine Drain The Water?

A washing machine failing to drain is one of the most irritating ways your washing machine can fault, as you’ll only find out when the machine is good and done soaking your clothes all the way through.

Identifying the reason behind your washing machine’s draining problem is, therefore, very important.

A washing machine which won’t drain either has a blockage or a broken pump.

Is my washing machine blocked?

In the case of a blockage, you will be able to find it in either the pipes leading to the pump, the filter (if your machine actually has one), or in the drain hose or pump.

To start searching for a blockage, unplug the machine, and empty it of water. You can empty a washing machine of water by bailing it out, or by emptying the drain hose into a bucket or a drain.

If your washing machine has an emergency drain hose, it will usually be in the same place as your pump filter. It will look like a short, black rubber hose. On the other hand, if your washing machine does not have an emergency drain hose, you can use the normal drain hose to empty the machine in a process known as a ‘gravity drain’.

The drain hose is likely to be a grey-ish, corrugated, flexible hose near the back of the machine. On older machines, it may be a darker grey rubber hose. As with the emergency drain hose, place the drain hose in a bucket or drain.

As long as the end of the drain hose is lower than the drum, your washing machine should drain, but bear in mind that you may need to tilt or raise your washing machine up in order to achieve this condition. If you need to tilt or raise your washing machine, we recommend that you enlist the assistance of a friend, as washing machines can be heavy enough that lifting them will cause back problems or hernias.

If the drain hose method does not seem to empty the machine properly, your drain hose may rise internally, or the blockage is between the drum and the hose outlet.

Find a blockage in the drain hose by manually checking along the length of the hose for both internal blockages and unnatural kinks or bends in the hose. Once you’ve found where the problem is, straighten out the hose and/or remove the blockage.

If a blockage in the drain hose was not the problem, you will need to look at the pump or pump filter. You can check these in the process of bailing out the machine by hand, which you will need to do anyway if your drain hose rises internally.
To bail out a washing machine by hand, access the filter.

Some models of washing machine have easily accessible filters. If there’s a panel near the bottom of your washing machine which can be opened with a screwdriver, it’s probably the pump filter panel. It can only be opened with a screwdriver to stop children from tampering with the filter.

If your washing machine has a bottom kick-plate, the filter may be behind this kick-plate, so popping it off will be necessary.

Once you’ve located the filter, move the washing machine to a point where the filter can be positioned above a container. If your washing machine is difficult to move, a little bit of washing-up liquid around the feet can help lubricate it. Again, if your washing machine needs a lot of manhandling to get into position, we recommend that you enlist a friend’s assistance.

Remove the filter and wait for the water to completely drain from the machine into whatever you are using as a collector.

How to clean a washing machine filter

To prevent your collector or basin from overflowing, it’s a good idea to keep your friend on hand to help you tip the washing machine back, and prepare to replace the filter while you empty your collector.

Once your washing machine is completely empty, visually check the filter for obstructions. If the machine still won’t drain normally after these checks, you do still need to check your sump hose for obstructions before you check your drain pump.

The sump hose can be found on the bottom of the machine, under the drum. It can usually be accessed simply by tipping your washing machine on its side. It can be unclipped using water pump pliers, and unscrewed using a crosshead screwdriver. Once safely removed, you can simply visually inspect the sump hose for blockages.

Faulty Pump

Finally, check the drain pump itself. This step has two main components; checking for physical blockages, and checking that the pump is still functional.

Check for physical blockages by visually inspecting the pump housing drain holes for large items, or check the pump body for smaller items.

If there are no blockages found then it is likely that the pump is faulty and needs replacing.

How to fit a washing machine pump

By Lee Gilbert