Washing machine repair: DIY advice and maintenance guide
ALWAYS UNPLUG AN ELECTRIC APPLIANCE BEFORE ATTEMPTING REPAIR!!!
1) How to repair when Washing machine won’t drain the water
This problem is the most common and easily rectifiable nowadays. It is usually caused by a blockage somewhere along the drain system of the appliance.
The first check to perform is to find out if the blockage is in the plumbing system or in the washing machine. If the washing machine drain hose is connected to the waste pipe under a sink, run the water in the sink and if that is not draining, you will need to call a plumber out. If the water is draining out, then the problem is in the appliance.
Some washing machines have an easily accessible filter hidden under a flap on the front. You can find instructions in your manual how to clean it. If you do not have a manual, you can follow this advice to repair the fault.
Prepare some towels, a bowl and a bucket. When you open the flap, you should see a cylinder and an emergency drain hose next to it (if your appliance has one). Pull out the emergency drain hose and lower it into the bowl on the floor. It is a slow process, but you will be able to get your washing out in the end. How much water you get out may vary. Drain until water stops running out. Afterwards, you need to unscrew the filter and take it out. Clean the filter and have a look at the drain pump propeller with the help of a torch. Look for elastic bands, wires or thread that would prevent the pump from working. Sometimes there may be something stuck in it and making it impossible to take out the filter (long bolt, for example). So if in doubt, call an appliance repair engineer out.
If your washing machine does not have an emergency drain hose, the quickest way to drain it would be from the filter (if there is one). You need to prepare a shallow bowl (which can fit under tilted appliance) which you place under the filter to collect the water. This is much messier job, but very quick. Tilt the appliance back. Get someone to help you by holding it in this position. Unscrew the filter slowly until water starts coming out, but not completely, so you can have some control over the process. Screw the filter back on when bowl fills up and empty it into a bucket. Repeat this procedure until all water is drained. Then take a look at the pump for obstructions. If you are not finding anything that may be the cause for the problem, the blockage may be located into the sump hose (a black hose between the tub and drain pump) or the drain hose connected to the waste pipe on the back. Our biggest ever find on a washing machine repair of this kind, was a pair of scissors in the sump hose.
Now that your washing machine is empty and much lighter, it would be easier to pull it out completely without damaging the floor or yourself, but make sure the hoses at the back are long enough. Use a towel to put under the appliance feet to prevent scratches to the flooring. Locate the drain hose. If it is connected to the U-bend under the sink check the connector between the hose and sink pipe.
2) How to repair when Washing machine won’t fill
There could be a few reasons for a washing machine not to fill up with enough or any water within the programmed time. That could lead to it stopping at any time during the cycle. With appliances that display error codes, the one for not filling up should come up.
Some of the causes of this problem you could easily rectify yourself.
First check there is water supply to the property (run the sink tap for example) and then to the washing machine. Often after a pluming job or a new appliance installation, the water supply tap to the washing machine is left off. It is possible that the tap looks like it’s turned on, but the valve inside is still off. That can also happen if the valve is old or faulty. You might be able to turn it on with pliers or screwdriver depending on the type of tap you have.
The next thing to check is that the fill hose is not kinked. To do this you will need to carefully pull out the washing machine.
For all other causes of this washing machine repair, you are likely to need the help of an appliance repair engineer. Other possible causes might be blocked inlet hose, faulty inlet valves, PCB faulty, draining problem.
3) How to repair when Washing machine door won’t open
DO NOT FORCE THE DOOR OPEN – there is usually good reason for it to stay closed. If a washing machine has not drained all the water, it’s programmed not to allow the door to open to prevent flooding of your property. Keep in mind that most washing machines are also programmed with up to 5 min waiting time after the end of the cycle, before they release the door. If your appliance is full with water, you could try draining it yourself (see Section 1 How to repair when Washing machine won’t drain the water).
The other possibilities are that the door lock is faulty or jammed, the door catch, handle or the whole mechanism is broken, or the pressure chamber bottle that controls the release of the door lock (when pneumatic lock is used), is faulty.
4) How to repair when Washing machine won’t start
Are there any of the indicator lights on? If not, you need to check the power supply to the appliance by plugging a small portable electric appliance in the socket, where your washing machine is plugged. If it works, then the problem is within your washing machine.
If the small appliance does not work as well, then check that the wall switch is on, the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped or the main fuse hasn’t blown. If all these are fine, you will need to call out an electrician to look at the installation.
In the case of washing machine fault, before you call an appliance repair engineer out, please check that the fuse in the washing machine plug hasn’t blown, that it is the right fuse 13Amp and that the power cord is intact.
Beyond this point tracing the fault requires professional skills and tools and it is best left to the professionals.
5) How to repair when Washing machine is noisy
An experienced engineer would easily recognize the problem by the type of noise a washing machine is producing. We will try to give you a rough guide, although different people will describe the same noise differently.
Grinding noise that is constant while the drum is turning or spinning often indicates worn off drum bearings. Sometimes water comes through the bearings seal causing them to lose the lubricating grease, rust and wear off. Sometimes you would find some rusty or silvery spotting on your washing as a result. A rust patch may be present underneath the washing machine where the water has gone through the bearings and trickled on the floor. If it is the case of the bearings gone, you would usually find that the drum is looser. You can check that by grasping the drum by the lip behind the door seal and trying to move it up and down – there should not be excessive play in that direction.
Because it is very labour and time consuming, and in the same time risky, not many colleagues would change drum bearings, nowadays. It often costs almost as much as a new appliance, so most companies would advise you to just replace it.
Another reason is that the leak through the bearings may have caused damage to other major parts (motor, cables, control board…) underneath that is not yet obvious, but will soon lead to developing a fault.
Bearings are normally suspected when the washing machine has had a fair use for a few years.
Howling or squealing noise is produced when the motor bearing is gone.
Scraping noise could be caused by bra wire, or other metal bits, stuck in certain way between the drum and tub. Have a look and feel inside the drum, it may be still pocking through one of the holes and you may be able to take it out with pliers. If that does not work you should call an appliance repair engineer out since we have more options for reaching the stuck object.
Coins, screws and other small metal bits that you’ve forgotten to take out of your pockets can make a lot of rattling noise when they get between the drum and tub. You would only hear this noise on spin. These small bits can also make their way to the drain pump and this will produce noise only when the washing machine is emptying the water. In this case you would need to clean the filter and the pump hosing, but if not done in time you are likely to find yourself with a blocked washing machine, and even damaged drain pump.
Loud banging noise at spin cycle could be the result of loose balancing stone/weight. If it is the one attached to the top of the tub, easily visible when you remove the lid of the washing machine, you can try tightening it, but do not overdo it- you can end up with damaged tub (especially if the tub is plastic). Our advice is to act the first time you hear the banging noise. Ignoring it could lead to the heavy balancing stone/weight breaking the fixings and even the tub.
6) How to repair when Washing machine overfills
When a washing machine overfills, you can see it is full inside and it starts overflowing through the soap dispenser and/or the back. There are a few possible faults that can lead to overfilling. The first thing to do is to turn the machine off. If it still fills up when off, then one or all of the inlet valves do not close properly and need replacing. To prevent damage from flooding, turn the water supply to the appliance off. You should be able to find the taps either at the side of the appliance or under the sink.
If the water stops running into the machine when you turn the appliance off, then the problem is caused by a blocked or faulty pressure switch. This washing machine repair requires a professional.
7) How to repair when The fabric conditioner compartment is always full with water
These often get blocked and need really thorough cleaning to get the water running through them again. So take the soap dispenser out, run some water in the conditioner compartment until full over the sink and check if it is draining out. There is a cap covering small hole in this compartment leading down a narrow passage – make sure it is not blocked.
8) How to repair when Washing machine smells bad
Sometimes you may feel bad smell is coming from the washing machine. This could be due to a few reasons:
· A build up of grease, bacteria, gung and black mould growth in the washing machine. It happens when mostly 40° programs have been used for a long period of time together with non-biological washing powder or only liquid detergent. Also, if the door is kept shut, when the appliance is not in use. To avoid bad smells from occurring, read our Washing machine maintenance guide
· No U-bend on the waste water pipe would allow bad smells from the outside waste pipe to travel indoors.
· Improperly connected washing machine where the drain hose is not elevated and allows dirty water from the waste pipe to come back to the washing machine, becoming stale and developing bad smell.
To get rid of bad smell in your washing machine, try pouring a cup of white vinegar in the soap dispenser towards the end of the filling up phase of the cycle in a hot empty wash. It is a very old, but proven to work method.
9) How to repair when Washing machine drum won’t go round or won’t spin
These are two different problems.
With the first one, the drum would not rotate at all after starting the cycle. You will hear all the other usual noises, but the drum will not move when it is supposed to. (In case you don’t hear all the usual noises at the start, then the problem would lay either with the emptying or filling with water, which are done before the appliance gets to the point where the drum will rotate.)
Causes for that may be that the belt has come off or snapped, or there is a motor fault.
If you are used to loading and unloading your washing machine, then you might be able to feel that the drum rotates with much less effort when the belt is off. Or if you can pull the appliance out, unplug it and take the back panel off, you can see if the belt is in its place. You may be able to replace it, but sometimes it could be tricky. If the problem persists, there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. This could be a slack belt, loose pulley, worn off bearings causing excessive movement to the pulley, obstruction to the drum movement.
If your washing machine goes through the cycle, but does not do the fast spin, the first thing you need to check is if the washing machine has actually emptied the water. If there is still water inside, than you need to follow the instructions in section How to repair when Washing machine won’t drain the water.
Another thing to check is that the load inside is balanced. Most modern appliances are made so that they would not spin, if the load inside cannot be balanced. If for example you have put in 1 large bath towel and a few small or light pieces of clothing, this problem may occur. All you need to do is add a few more items or remove some to change the weight or the load and try spinning it again.
Your washing machine may not spin because the carbon brushes on the motor are worn off. It is a relatively common problem and it is easy and cheap to replace.
In any other case you would need an appliance repair engineer to properly trace and diagnose the problem with suitable tools.
10) How to repair when Washing machine is leaking
There are a lot of places where a washing machine can leak from. Hoses get old, cracked or can be damaged easily by sharp metal objects like hair clips or pieces of bra wire and cause a leak. Connections inside the appliance can get loose or blocked and start leaking water.
Water leaves trace where it has run, which could lead you to the cause of the problem. Don’t risk getting an electric shock while trying to see where the leak comes from while the appliance is in use!
The most common case is when the door seal become worn off or piece of its rubber is torn. This breaks the seal between the rubber and the door glass and allows water to escape. A leak is then observed down either the inside or the outside of the front panel of the appliance. Water may leak through the door when the door is not closing properly due to faulty hinge, broken door trims or an object stuck between the rubber seal and the door glass.
Another common leak is through the soap dispenser. It often happens when washing powder, gung and slime build up in the dispenser bed, preventing water to leave the dispenser as quickly as it fills up thus resulting in flooding. Take the dispenser drawer out and clean its bed until no build up is left.
If the appliance is not balanced and it is leaning forward, it can cause it to overflow. Also read Section 6 above for blocked fabric conditioner compartment.
A leak from underneath that leaves rusty traces may be a sign for worn drum bearings. Check also Section 4 for other symptoms of this fault.
If you have recently moved the appliance and it leaks the first time you use it afterwards, the fill hose on the back could have gotten damaged. Carefully pull the appliance out again and check the hose where it connects to the washing machine.
Flooding from underneath can also come from the drain hose that takes dirty water out of the appliance and into the waste pipe.
Any other type of leak requires the attention of an appliance repair engineer.
11) How to repair when Washing machine stops with lights flashing
This would normally indicate an error code and you need to refer to the manufacturer’s manual to find out which one it is and what it means.
Washing machine maintenance tips
The rule of thumb here is that you should always follow the user manual. The manufacturer knows best what works best for their appliance.
A few common tips we can give you to add to that to prolong your washing machine life and to prevent the need of washing machine repairs would be:
1) Don’t overload the washing machine. Fill up the drum, but check that there are 3-4 inches free space between the top of the load and the top of the drum. That would prevent premature wear of the drum bearings and motor, damage to the appliance due to excessive vibration resulting from overloading.
2) Don’t underload the washing machine. If underloaded most modern machines won’t be able to balance the weight and would not spin.
3) Run a maintenance wash once a month. A maintenance wash is a hot wash with biological washing powder, but no load (washing). This will help break down and clean the grease, slime and grime that builds up in the tub, door seal and inner parts of the appliance due to washing mostly on low temperatures with non-bio powder. A maintenance wash also helps kill the bacteria, which survives at 40° cycle, and it prevents bad smell developing.
4) Always leave the washing machine door open. Airing the appliance prevents or at least slows down black mould and bacteria from growing on the door seal.
5 ) Clean the filter. If your washing machine has an easily accessible filter, make sure you clean it at least once a month. Emptying all pockets of the clothing you load in the appliance also helps.
6) Clean the soap dispenser. Remains of washing powder and softener can block the soap dispenser. Make sure you clean it regularly.