Washing machines are all made a little differently, built with varying features and extras you can get depending on your needs and budget. But they also come with some common core elements that make them function virtually the same as they get your clothes clean. Whether you've recently purchased a brand new washer or you've had yours for years, knowing how to troubleshoot certain problems can save you a lot of grief. Here are four common issues with washing machines and what the cause could be.
Doesn't Turn On
If you turn your washer on and nothing happens, it could be due to a number of things. After you've eliminated the obvious cause and made sure the plug hasn't come loose, you can test the outlet for an electrical issue. Plug in a radio or another small appliance and see if it works. From there, you'll need to check the breaker box for a tripped fuse or if there's some other issue that requires an electrician.
Another reason washers stop working is if the lid was raised and the cycle was interrupted. Some models won't automatically restart when the lid is lowered, and you have to start all over again.
Lastly, there's a plastic piece under the lid, called the lid switch probe, that activates the switch when the lid is lowered. If it breaks off, lowering the lid won't trip the cycle to start. You can usually order the parts and replace them without too much difficulty.
Washer Won't Drain
If the water isn't draining from the basket, the first thing to check is the drain hose. It could be something as simple as a bend or kink in the line, or it could be clogged. Also, check the lint filter to be sure it isn't plugged or caked with debris.
If the pump fails or a belt breaks, this will also prevent your washer from draining. If it's a pump issue, you'll usually hear loud rumbling noises coming from the machine as well. You can attempt to fix the pump yourself, but most professionals recommend calling in an appliance technician.
Tub Isn't Spinning
Some models come with a speed selector switch. If the handle on the switch gets caught between speeds, the washer won't agitate at all. Also, if you have a new washer and aren't familiar with how long your soak cycle is, you may think that the washer isn't working, when, in fact, it's simply soaking your clothes.
Also, if something gets stuck in the pump, you'll probably hear a loud rumbling or humming after the water fills, but it won't spin the load to drain the water.
Another issue could be with the belt that spins the basket. Sometimes they break or come loose, or the drive pulley that holds the belt could be problematic. Again, these issues should be addressed by a technician who can see if the pulley has simply seized or if it needs to be replaced.
Sometimes, the basket will spin in one direction but not the other. If this is the case, then most likely the drive motor is not reversing, and it needs to be replaced.
Lastly, there could be something going on with the transmission or clutch inside the motor, and a professional repairman can diagnose and fix the problem or let you know if it's better to invest in a new washer.
Washer Quits Mid-Cycle
More often than not, when this happens it's because the timer on the machine has gone out. The component itself is made up of moving parts and metal springs, and sometimes they burn out, become corroded, or get stuck.
One quick way to check this is to unplug the machine and remove the control panel off the top of the washer. If at a quick glance you can see that the timer looks corroded or parts are loose, then you know it needs to be replaced. If it's not so obvious, you should call in a repairman, from a place like Affordable Appliance Repair, to run a continuity test with a digital multimeter which will test the timer's motor.