11 Ways to Troubleshoot Common Washing Machine Problems
Like most people in 21st century America, you probably take your washing machine for granted.
You never really appreciate it until it checks out.
But when it ceases to render faithful service, your daily routine devolves into chaos. The dirty laundry piles up fast, especially in a home with kids and pets, and soon you run out of things to wear. Overinvest in socks and underthings — that’s our advice.
Your pleasant evenings of wine and escapist TV give way to repeat sessions at the laundromat under glaring fluorescent lights — if you’re lucky enough to find an open machine or two.
This article explores some of the most common washing machine problems. Armed with the information here, you may be able to poke around, troubleshoot your washer, and get it running again.
Then again, you may not be able to. Mold growth and clogged hoses are easy enough to deal with on your own, but most mechanical and electrical problems are jobs for a professional.
Please remember that you should unplug your machine before troubleshooting and attempting to repair anything mechanical or electrical.
1. The washing machine won’t turn on.
It’s a Power Problem.
- A circuit breaker may have tripped. Check the breaker box.
- The electrical cord may be damaged. Inspect it for frayed or exposed wires.
- The washing machine may not be plugged in securely. Verify that it is.
- The outlet may have lost power or gone wrong. Test it with a voltmeter or plug in another appliance to see if the outlet is working. A broken outlet is a job for a licensed electrician.
The lid switch is worn out.
- Top-loading washing machines have a switch that prevents the washing machine from operating when the lid is open.
- Make sure the lid switch is in the correct position, making contact when the lid is closed.
- If the switch is damaged, the washing machine won’t start.
- You can attempt to replace the switch DIY if you know what you’re doing, or you can call us.
The washer motor has overheated.
- When overheated (too many loads or too many heavy loads?), your washing machine will shut down so that the motor can cool off.
- Give your machine time to cool before turning on the washer again.
- If the washer still doesn’t start, call us.
The timer knob is misaligned.
- Some machines won’t function if the timer knob isn’t aligned precisely with the settings listed.
- Try adjusting the timer to the cycle’s starting point and turn on the washer.
2. The washing machine won’t fill with water.
If your washing machine doesn’t fill with water, there are a few things you can check before calling for repairs.
- Make sure the water supply valves are fully open. If they’re not, turn them until they are.
- Check to see if the inlet hose is kinked or pinched. If it is, straighten it out or replace it.
- If neither of those things solves the problem, the washing machine’s water inlet valve may be the culprit.
This is a more complex repair best left to a professional.
3. The washing machine isn’t draining.
A washing machine that doesn’t drain is just as big a problem as one that doesn’t fill!
Here are some things you can check before calling for repairs:
- First, make sure the washing machine’s hose isn’t kinked or pinched.
- Next, check if anything is blocking the washing machine’s drainage pump. If there is, remove it and try again.
- You could be using too much detergent. Too much soap doesn’t make your clothes cleaner; it only hampers your washer’s ability to drain.
- If your washing machine still won’t drain, it’s time to call a repairman.
4. The washing machine is leaving water spots on clothes.
This is usually caused by too much detergent, which can leave a residue on your clothing.
To fix the problem, cut back on the amount of detergent you’re using.
If that doesn’t work, try using a different detergent brand or washing your clothes in vinegar water (1 cup vinegar per load).
5. The machine agitator doesn’t agitate or spin.
Your washing machine is little more than a glorified tub without the agitator.
Here are some possible causes for an agitator that doesn’t work:
You’re overloading the washer.
- Heavy, unbalanced loads lead to weak spins.
- Remove some clothes and redistribute the load to restore good balance, and allow your washer to finish its cycle.
Parts are worn out.
- A seized motor.
- A broken belt.
- Worn or damaged gears.
All these problems require professional repair.
The washing machine filter is clogged.
- If your washing machine can’t drain properly, the agitator may not be able to spin.
- Clogged filters can also overload, potentially damaging the washing machine.
- To clean a clogged filter, remove it and rinse it off with water.
- If the filter is damaged, you’ll need to replace it.
6. The washer leaks.
There are several reasons why your washer might be leaking. Sometimes it’s an easy fix, like checking the hose for a kink or tightening a screw.
Before you call for professional repair, check the simple solutions first.
Hoses are loose or damaged.
If your washing machine leaks during the spin cycle, the drain hose is the likely culprit.
- Check the drain hose for loose connections, cracks, or damage. Replace it if necessary.
- Unscrew the nozzle and inspect the hose for clogs.
- The fill hose could also cause a leak. Check it for clogs, loose fittings, and damage.
- Yet another possibility: the washers in your hoses don’t offer a snug fit. Replace them.
The water inlet valve is clogged or damaged.
Your water inlet valve connects to your fill hoses.
- Try cleaning the valve with vinegar to remove mineral deposits.
- If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to replace it.
The machine is sudsing excessively.
When suds build up in your top-loading washer, the result is a spillover. A spillover looks like a leak but isn’t.
Soft and hot water can aggravate the problem because they contribute to sudsing and foaming.
This problem is easy to solve. Use less detergent, just as Mama told you.
The front seal needs cleaning.
Front-load washers have robust seals that keep water from spilling out of the machine. Debris, dust, and dirt buildup will compromise that seal and prevent it from doing its job.
- Wipe the seal with warm soapy water and a vinegar solution if you detect mold.
- Once a seal is damaged seal may require replacement.
Bleach has damaged washer parts.
Liquid bleach is a highly corrosive chemical that can eventually damage parts of the plastic bleach dispenser. Replacing the bleach dispenser may help.
Heavy bleach use can also corrode stainless steel components of your washer, in which case you’ll be calling us for repair or buying a new washing machine.
Apply bleach only when necessary. Consider opting for oxygenating bleach, which isn’t as harsh.
The tub is damaged.
There’s not much you can do if your tub has developed a hole. Your options are:
- An expensive repair.
- A new machine.
Most people buy a new, energy-efficient washer with an attractive warranty.
However, the problem may lie with the tub seal and not the tub itself. This seal sits where the tub connects to the transmission.
Replacing the tub seal is an affordable repair best handled by a professional.
Call us for a consultation. We’ll be honest about your options and the best course of action.
The drain pump needs repair or replacing.
As we’ve already discussed, a faulty drain pump can result in significant leakage.
One common area of failure is the seal. If it gives out, you’ll see anything from minor leaking to major flooding — in which case, you’ll have to replace the pump.
7. Detergent won’t dispense.
Automatic detergent dispensers, while convenient, can be problematic.
- Usually, the dispenser needs a thorough cleaning.
- Fill the dispenser with warm, distilled white vinegar instead of detergent, and run a regular wash cycle.
- Incorrect product use is suspect #2. For example, using powdered bleach instead of liquid bleach may clog the dispenser.
- Consult your owner’s manual to understand which laundry products are best for your washer.
8. The washer vibrates violently.
Slight vibration is normal in a spin cycle. Violent shaking isn’t.
The washer isn’t level.
The washer may not sit on level flooring.
Place a thick slab of plywood under the washer to provide a more stable surface.
You haven’t adjusted the washer’s feet.
Your washing machine comes with adjustable feet, ensuring level operation.
- Carefully adjust the height of the feet and tighten the locks so that they no longer move.
- Your washer should now sit evenly without any rocking or movement.
Your laundry load is unbalanced.
An unbalanced washing machine is a loud washing machine.
If your washing machine begins to shake, pause the cycle and redistribute the laundry load evenly.
If necessary, add more clothes to balance out the load before restarting the cycle.
A shock absorber is broken.
Shock absorbers help reduce vibration by absorbing movement. If one or more of them have failed, you’ll need to replace them.
Doing so isn’t difficult but does require some mechanical aptitude.
We recommend calling a professional to handle this repair.
9. The washing machine makes strange noises.
Depending on the noises you’re hearing, there could be a lot going on in your washer!
Some sounds indicate the presence of a foreign object that doesn’t belong in the wash; others are “;uh-oh”; signals of imminent repair.
This usually means that there’s something in your drain hose.
Detach the hose and check for obstructions to keep your gurgle from growing into a flood.
If the washer’s running, clicking is most likely caused by coins, metal buttons on an item of clothing, or other hard objects bumping against the tub.
After inspecting the wash, check the drain as well.
If the washing machine isn’t running and you hear clicking, one of the washing machine’s relays may have failed.
This is a complex repair and not a DIY job.
Most washing machines make some noise while they’re operating. If the noise sounds like humming and is coming from the bottom of the washer, it may be that something’s caught in the drain pump.
Unplug your washing machine and remove the access panel to the pump to check. Use a flashlight to look for foreign objects, and remove them if you find any.
If nothing is blocking the pump, it may be time to replace it.
Squeaks can have a few different causes.
One is that the washing machine isn’t level and needs to be adjusted. Another is that the washer’s shock absorbers need replacing. Finally, it could indicate that your washing machine’s tub support bearings are worn.
This last repair is a job for a professional.
10. The washing machine smells bad.
Washing machines are prone to mold and mildew because they’re constantly wet.
The best way to prevent odors is to clean your washing machine regularly.
You can do this by running an empty cycle with hot water and 1 cup of bleach.
If your washing machine still smells, it’s time to call a repairman.
11. The washer won’t stop running.
You have a defective timer if your washer runs well after you think the cycle should have finished. You’ll have to replace it.
Still stumped? Call West Coast for Service
We hope this washing machine troubleshooting guide has been helpful.
If you’re still having problems with your washing machine or would rather not tackle the repair yourself, give us a call.
At West Coast Repair, our team of licensed, bonded, and insured repair experts are ready to help get your washing machine back up and running again. Contact us today!
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