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How to Troubleshoot Common Washing Machine Problems

A washer filling up

Your washing machine performs an essential service in your home or business. Without it, the dirty clothes pile up, and you quickly run into a problem. When your washing machine malfunctions, it’s natural to want to understand the source of the problem. Although some issues are easy DIY projects, others require the help of professionals.

If you’re interested in investigating a bit further to diagnose what washing machine problems you have, make use of this list that explores some of the most common washing machine problems.

Through this troubleshooting guide, you’ll learn about the most fundamental issues that you’ll encounter in a washer and how you should proceed.

Whenever you attempt any repairs, remember that safety comes first. Always unplug your machine before attempting any repairs, moving parts, or investigating.

1. The washing machine won’t turn on.

If your washing machine doesn’t turn on, there could be several reasons for it.

  • It’s a Power Problem.
    Even if your washing machine is plugged in, there may be a problem. Perhaps your outlet has lost power, or a circuit breaker has tripped. You can get a definitive answer about whether or not power is arriving at the outlet by using a multimeter. You can also check your electrical panel to ensure that no breakers have tripped. Another sign that there’s trouble is a hot outlet. However, if you rule out these issues and determine that electricity isn’t arriving at your outlet, you’ll need the help of an electrician.
  • The lid switch is worn out.
    When you open the lid of your top-loading washing machine, there’s a switch that functions to stop the device for safety reasons automatically. Make sure that the switch is in proper position and that it’s activated when the lid is in the down position. Sometimes these switches can wear out. With a replacement, your washer should turn on again.
  • It could be a washer motor malfunction.
    Another common power issue is your motor. When overheated, your washing machine will shut down so that the motor can cool off. Give your machine time to cool off before trying to turn it on again.
  • It could be a timer knob alignment issue.
    Some machines won’t function if the timer knob isn’t lined up correctly with the options listed. Try resetting the timer by adjusting it to point to the start of a specific cycle and then try to turn your washer on again. improper draining of washer

2. The washing machine may not be draining properly.

Usually, improper draining will come to your attention when you find water all over the floor. However, in less severe cases, you may see that your clothes are wetter than you’d expect after the spin cycle. There are many reasons your washer may fail to drain properly. One common problem is with the drain hose. You can usually remove the hose and check for a blockage that can often be removed easily. Additional issues with the drain hose may be as simple as kinks or improper placement.

  • The drain pump may be jammed.
    Another reason you may be struggling with drainage issues is your drain pump. This pump gets jammed by small items such as socks, coins or keys that find their way to the pump. In front-loading machines, you can check your drainage pump filter, usually located on the front of the machine towards the bottom. After cleaning this filter out, you may find that the problem is solved. However, in other cases, your drain pump may be facing more pressing issues such as seizing, belt breakage, or broken blades. In these cases, you’ll need to replace your pump.
  • You’re using too much detergent.
    Excessive detergent is another problem that can diminish your washer’s ability to drain properly. Make sure you check your user’s manual for guidelines about how much soap to add. Too much detergent creates lots of suds that can lengthen the drainage process or stop it from finishing.

2. The machine agitator doesn’t agitate or spin.

Your washing machine agitates during the wash cycle to help clean your clothes. Without this essential movement, you soak your clothes in soapy water. Equally crucial, spin sequences remove soapy water from your clothes and then remove excess water from your clothes after the rinse cycle. Keep in mind that your washer will only agitate or spin when in a wash or spin cycle. Soak cycles involve no movement at all – so check what stage your appliance is in during its cycle before assuming there’s a problem. Here are some common issues that may be causing the lack of spinning and agitation in your washer.

  • You’re overloading the washer.
    When you overload your washer, it often becomes unbalanced, resulting in a weak spin. Uneven distribution of clothes in the washer can also result in this issue. If this is causing problems, either remove some clothes or merely adjust the distribution. By doing this, it will help restore the balance so that your washer can finish its cycle.
  • Parts are worn out.
    Whether your drain pump is clogged, the lid switch has ceased to function, or one of your washer’s belts has suffered damage, these issues can cause problems with the spin and agitation functions of your washing machine. Even poor selection of the settings on your timer or settings knob can result in trouble with agitation and spinning. In addition to the issues mentioned above, there’s more. Pulleys in your washing machine are another component that can fail, causing your belts to break. Make sure if you replace a belt that the pulleys don’t need replacement as well. Your washing machine’s motor is what makes the basket spin and agitate. So, if there’s a problem with the motor, you’ll have a problem with spinning and agitation. Sometimes motors can be repaired by replacing specific parts. However, other times, the entire motor must be replaced.

3. The washer leaks.

There are numerous reasons why your washer could be leaking. Before you conclude that it will cost you big time, take a look at some of these fixes that often do the trick. washing machine hose issues

  • Hoses may be loose or damaged.
    If your washing machine is leaking during the spin cycle, the drain hose is the likely culprit. Check the hose for loose connections, cracks, or any other damage. Then, if nothing seems amiss, remove one of the ends of the hose to look for any clogs. If your hose is damaged, you can easily replace it with a new one. The fill hoses are other hoses that could cause a leak. These hoses fill your machine with water–one for hot and the other for cold. Double-check your washers and the state of your fill hoses to ensure there are no cracks. Your water inlet valve is connected to your fill hoses and could also cause a problem. Clean out any rust or mineral deposits and test your machine. Sometimes this valve needs to be replaced if it’s too old or damaged.
  • The machine may be “sudsing” excessively.
    When too many suds build up in your washing machine, it can result in a spillover. This problem known as sudsing may seem like a leak, but it isn’t. The problem may become worse if you have a water softener or hot water, as this results in more sudsing than using cold or hard water. You can solve this problem by reducing the amount of detergent you use.
  • The front seal may need cleaning.
    Front-load washers have powerful seals that are used to keep water from spilling out of the machine. However, over time, debris, dust, and dirt can build up on the seal. Ultimately this problem keeps the seal from doing its job. Try cleaning the seal off carefully. A damaged seal may require replacement.
  • Bleach may have damaged washer parts.
    If you use bleach when washing your whites, this highly corrosive chemical may eventually damage parts of the plastic bleach dispenser. Replacing this piece may help. However, using lots of bleach can also damage stainless steel components of your washer, eventually causing issues. Use bleach only when necessary or consider opting for oxygenating bleach which isn’t as harsh.
  • The tub may be damaged.
    If your tub has developed a hole, there’s not much you can do. Replacing a tub is expensive, and you’d probably be better off just buying a new washing machine. However, if there isn’t a hole and you suspect the tub’s to blame, it could be the tub seal. This seal sits where the tub connects to the transmission. While it’s replaceable, you’ll want to consult a professional to take care of this complicated job. Beforehand, be sure to get an estimate as depending on the model, you may be better off just buying a new washer.
  • The drain pump may need repair or replacing.
    As we’ve already discussed, a faulty drain pump can result in a significant leak issue. One common area of failure in drain pumps is the seal. If it fails, you’ll notice anything from minor leaking to flooding. The pump will likely need replacing if this is the issue. detergent does not dispense

4. Detergent won’t dispense.

Do you have an automatic detergent dispenser? These pieces of equipment, while convenient, can cause trouble. Usually, a good cleaning can remedy problems with your dispenser. Using warm white distilled vinegar instead of detergent, run a regular cycle.

Another common problem is using incorrect products. For example, using powdered bleach instead of liquid bleach may clog the dispenser. Make sure you check your owners manual for the best products to use in your washer. excessive shaking and moving

5. The washer shakes and vibrates excessively.

A slight vibration from your washer is normal. However, violent shaking is not. When you encounter this issue, there’s probably a simple explanation. One of the most common problems is that your washer isn’t sitting on level flooring. To remedy this issue, use a large piece of plywood to provide a more stable surface for your washing machine, eliminating excessive movement.

A similar issue is that you haven’t adjusted the washer’s feet. Your washing machine comes with adjustable feet so that you can ensure your washer sits evenly on your floor. Carefully adjust the height of your washer’s feet and tighten the locks so that they no longer move. When correctly adjusted, your washer should sit evenly without any rocking or movement.

If you’ve checked the above and still haven’t found the reason, your load of laundry is likely unbalanced. Whether you’ve overloaded the washer or the clothes have merely distributed themselves unevenly during the cycle, an unstable or overloaded washing machine will shake and move more than normal. When the washer stops during a cycle, open the door and adjust the load or remove some items. Always remember to follow your owner’s manuals guidelines on how much weight you can put in your washer. When in doubt, go with two smaller loads instead of one big one.

6. The washing machine makes strange noises.

Depending on the types of noises you’re hearing, there could be many different things going on in your washer. While some sounds may indicate the presence of a foreign object where it doesn’t belong, others may be a sign that you require repairs or replacements. Let’s examine some of the noises you might hear.

  • Gurgling
    This usually means that there’s something in your drain hose. Remove the hose and check for any obstructions and keep your gurgle from becoming a flood.
  • Clicking
    If you notice this noise while your washer is running, it’s most likely a metal piece from an item of clothing that’s bumping up against the tub. However, if you’ve put in a load of sheets, it’s possible that a coin or other object has gotten stuck in the drain. Check to make sure there’s nothing in the drain area.
  • Unusual humming
    Your machine may make some noise when it’s functioning normally. However, you’ll notice louder humming or buzzing. A foreign object in your drain pump could be causing the loud sound. Take the object out if you can.

7. The washer stinks.

Does your washer smell musty or like mildew? The smell is a fairly common problem and is usually a sign that mold and bacteria are infecting your machine. After all, a washing machine is a perfect place for mold and bacteria growth because it’s dark and moist. There’s an easy way to treat this problem: wash your machine every month.

Use distilled white vinegar in place of detergent and run your machine through a normal cycle using hot water. For a top-loading washing machine, you can add up to 4 cups of vinegar to the washer once its full of water. If you have a front loader, add about 3/4 cup to the bleach dispenser. Use this cleaning method once a month for an odor-free washer.

Also, avoid using too much detergent. You’d think that more soap would equal less smell, but it doesn’t. On the contrary, too much detergent makes a lot of suds that leave behind residue upon which bacteria and mold thrive. If you don’t use hot water, start using it occasionally. Using hot water can reduce the presence of residue and help discourage mold and mildew growth. Clean out your drain pump filter regularly. Everything from lint to small items can get caught in there, slowing water flow and keeping the filter moist and ripe for mold growth.

8. The endless wash cycle.

If your washer runs and runs even after you think the cycle should have finished, you have a defective timer. You can usually replace this piece and have your washer back to normal.

Still stumped? Call an expert at West Coast Chief Appliance for repair.

If trying to fix the problems yourself or don’t have time, contact a professional washing machine repair company such as West Coast Chief Repair. We’ll get to the bottom of any washing machine troubles you’re having so that you can tackle that pile of dirty laundry as soon as possible. choose west coast chief repair