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Troubleshooting Washing Machine Problems

Washing machine not spinning? Will it turn on but not start a washing programme? Pick up a few washing machine skills from our troubleshooting guide!


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Laundry crises happen all the time, be it because your favourite dress needs a quick wash before that meeting, your go-to ‘date night shirt’ still bears the evidence of your most recent effort to dress to impress, or your child has suddenly been violently ill. It’s a good thing you have a working washing machine on hand – until you realise for some reason it’s not functioning properly.

Don’t panic! We’re here to help you out with some quick troubleshooting to get those clothes clean and ready for whatever you need them for. Find your issue below and get ready.

A washing machine not spinning is a common washing machine malfunction. Avoid it by loading your machine evenly with similar items. Don’t mix light garments with heavy or highly absorbent items as it will create an elliptical circuit and cause your washing machine to stop spinning.

Why is my washing machine not spinning?

The most likely reason for your washing machine not spinning is an imbalance in your load. If you’ve ended up mixing light items like thin tops, children’s clothes and socks with sheets or large towels, the centrifugal force in the washing machine will try to create an elliptical cycle. This will make an old washing machine start ‘walking’ and a more modern machine will detect the error and stop. If you can drain your washing machine, do, and then empty it partially or completely and put the clothes in a tub as they will still be soaking wet. If you want to give it another try, make sure you’ve removed any particularly heavy items before you do. Some washing machines can’t be drained – in this case, you may want to keep a tub at the ready for the water pouring out of the machine as you open it!

If your washing machine won’t spin, you may sometimes need to perform a ‘master reset’ on your washing machine. Consult your washing machine manual to see if this is the correct thing to do with your model and how to go about doing it.

Why is my washing machine not draining?

If your washing machine won’t drain, it won’t spin, so the issue may be a blockage of some sort that is preventing the machine from draining properly. You may want to have a look at the pump manifold (the plastic housing which the pump is attached to) and investigate whether a coin, a toy or another small object has ended up in there and blocked the inlet, outlet or drain hose.

If you feel confident checking the technical components of your washing machine, you can try the following, otherwise you may want to call a repair technician (though doing it yourself could save you some money).

After checking that the pump is unobstructed, you’ll need to check that it’s working. The easiest way of doing this is to use a multimeter and perform a continuity check on the drain pump, ensuring the motor coil’s neutral and live connections make a circuit. If the circuit is broken, you’re going to need a new drain pump.

You can also check the drain pump rotor while troubleshooting. On a magnetic pump, the rotor should have a ‘turn-and-flick’ movement in both directions, whereas it should turn with the cooling fan behind the drain pump on an induction pump. If the drain pump rotor is broken or loose you will also need to invest a new drain pump.

Safety Warning

Never work on a washing machine that’s plugged into the power supply. Unplug the washing machine before touching any of the internal parts.

Why is my washing machine not filling with water?

There are a few things that might be the cause of your washing machine not filling with water. Have a look at these points to do some simple troubleshooting before you cave in and call the repair technician:

  • Is the fill hose in good condition? Have a look at the fill hose to see whether it is blocked, kinked or otherwise damaged. This is often the cause of a washing machine not filling with water

  • Check the tap to see whether the valve inside is actually rotating when you turn it on. A cause with a very straight-forward solution is the tap being turned off by accident. Investigate whether this is the cause and if so, turn it on

  • If the hose and tap are both fine, you may want to look into the wiring, the water valve, and the pressure system to see whether these are functioning the way they should

  • If all else fails or you don’t feel confident troubleshooting on your own, call a washing machine repair technician

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My washing machine won’t turn on

If your washing machine won’t turn on at all, there are a few initial troubleshooting points you can try:

  • Check the circuit for your washing machine in the fuse box. Has the fuse blown? If so, it needs to be repaired

  • Is the power supply for the washing machine switched on at the socket? If not, turn it on / plug it into the power supply

My washing machine turns on but won’t start

If your washing machine turns on but won’t start, it may be down to a few different issues. Try these troubleshooting tips to see if you can figure out the problem for yourself:

  • Is the washing machine turning on anywhere? If your washing machine’s spin function works, but it will not start when you select a wash cycle, your washing machine may not be able to fill with water properly

  • If your washing machine turns on but won’t start on any programme or function whatsoever, it’s time to see whether there is a fault with the washing machine or the power supply. If lights come on when you turn the washing machine on, the issue is not the power supply but the machine itself. If they don’t, you should have a look at the wall socket – or let an electrician investigate the problem for you

  • If a fuse has blown, your plug may have suffered. If the lights on the washing machine won’t turn on, this is something to look into. Either use a continuity test meter to test the plug, or check whether another appliance will work when plugged into the fuse. Be sure to use fuse at an appropriate power level and never bypass fuses

These troubleshooting tips should help you with a number of washing machine problems. However, if you still don’t feel confident about trying it out yourself, there is nothing wrong with calling a professional repair technician who knows exactly what to look for. Here’s hoping the washing machine will be fixed in time for you to wash that essential garment (in the meantime, you can always wash your clothes by hand).

  • Find your issue in the article

  • Try the troubleshooting tips assigned to the problem

  • Make sure the power supply to the washing machine is turned off if you need to work on internal parts

  • Always check to see if the power supply was turned off all along as this may have caused the issue

Originally published