What to do if your washing machine starts to act up? You can either call the service company and wait a few days for an expensive repair job,
or, if you are handy with tools, you can use our Washing Machine Repair Guide to fix the machine yourself.
This repair guide is offered for informational purposes only. We can give you ideas about how to fix your washing machine. Still, because of the differences from manufacturer to manufacturer, we cannot guarantee your problem will be covered here.
Still, this guide is educational and will give you a better understanding of how your washing machine works. And with that understanding, you are better equipped to attempt your repairs or to talk intelligently with the service company if someone comes to fix your washing machine.
ATTENTION: Washing machines use electricity and water! This can be a deadly combination, so be sure to read our safety guide before attempting any of your repairs.
- Problem #1 – Leaks
- Problem #2 – Spinner doesn’t work or is slow
- Problem #3 – No agitation but spins OK
- Problem #4 – No agitation or spin
- Problem #5 – Water will not empty
- Problem #6 – Washer shakes during the spin cycle
- Problem #7 – Washing machine damages clothing
- Problem #8 – There is still detergent in the clothes after the wash cycle
- Problem #9 – No cold water
- Problem #10 – The washing machine is dead
Problem #1 – Leaks
Washing machine leaks can be either internal or external. Loose hose connections commonly cause external leaks, so that is the first thing you should look for when your washing machine appears to be leaking.
Another obvious problem is a backed-up drain, which is forcing water back to the washing machine.
Internal Leaks are more challenging to repair and involve removing the external panels of the washing machine. Disconnect the power connection before doing this.
Start with a visual inspection for obvious signs of water leaking or collecting. If there is nothing obvious, touch the various components (with the electricity off!) feeling for dampness.
The most common sources of leaks are the pump, the water injector, or the tub. If you can’t feel or see any leaks, you should try to run a short cycle with the panels off to locate the source. Remember, this has to be strictly visual. No hands or any other objects must touch the inside of the washing machine while it is running.
Another source of leaks that will be revealed with this visual inspection is a water sloshing problem, where the water escapes over the side of the tub and falls onto the floor. If this is the case, you need to replace the gasket around the top of the tub.
Problem #2 – Spinner doesn’t work or is slow
The spin cycle will stop when the washing machine lid is opened, so if your washer does not spin at all, then the first thing you should check is the switch that is operated by the lid. When you close the lid, is the switch closed? There may be a tab to activate the switch, or the hinge motion of the lid may enable it.
Access the switch by taking off the top panel of the washing machine. You will be able to see the type of mechanism and whether or not the action of the lid is switching it. If the mechanical work seems correct, use a voltage meter to see if it functions. If not, replace it.
Other possible causes include worn belts. These are usually found on older machines, as the new machines use generally a direct drive mechanism for the spin function. If yours is a relatively new machine, you may be looking at the direct drive coupler if none of these is the source of the problem, the spin cycle solenoid or timer may need to be replaced.
Problem #3 – No agitation but spins OK
If the washing machine fills with water but does not agitate, the first thing to check is the drive mechanism on the agitator. Depending on the brand of the washing machine, you may be looking for a worn drive belt or dog cam set. If the agitator wobbles when it is turned by hand, the dog cam set needs to be replaced.
Other possible mechanical causes behind agitator failure include worn transmission mode levers or an obstructed or disconnected air tube, which connects to the pressure switch.
Electrical problems such caused by bad contacts are also possible. Test the pressure switches and timer contacts. Specific machines will switch off when the lid is lifted, so you can also check the lid switch if you have this type of machine.
Problem #4 – No agitation or spin
This is an indication of a worn or broken drive belt or in the case of direct drive washing machines, a worn direct drive coupler. If the belts look solid, they may still be slipping due to glaze. Another possibility is that the motor needs to be replaced.
Problem #5 – Water will not empty
This is caused by a malfunctioning pump. Check the drive belts on the pump, and if they seem to be OK, try to move the belt by hand (with the machine disconnected!). If it appears to be stiff, the pump needs to be replaced.
If the pump and belts seem to be OK, check the drain hose for obstructions.
Problem #6 – Washer shakes during the spin cycle
Washing machines need to be leveled carefully to avoid this problem. There are usually adjustable feet on each corner of the machine to adjusting the level. Make sure the machine is installed on a sturdy floor or reinforce the underfloor if necessary.
If the machine is perfectly leveled and still vibrates during the spin cycle check to see if the damper pads are worn.
Note that some amount of vibration is reasonable and that front-loading machines are more prone to this problem than top-loaders.
Problem #7 – Washing machine damages clothing
This can happen if there is not enough water during the wash cycle. Be sure to use the recommended water level for a load of laundry. Open the lid during the wash cycle to make sure the clothes are circulating freely and, if not, stop the cycle and add more water.
This could also be caused by clothes getting trapped under the agitator. Check for rough spots around the bottom of the agitator, which could be catching the clothing.
Problem #8 – There is still detergent in the clothes after the wash cycle
This can be because of using too much detergent, but mechanical problems can also be the cause. First, check to make sure the cold water hose is unobstructed and if it’s OK to watch to see if the rinse cycle is regular. If not, there may be a problem with the timer assembly, in which case the easiest solution is to replace the whole timer unit.
Excess detergent residue can also be caused by hard water.
Problem #9 – No cold water
This is related to problem number 8 since the rinse cycle is done with cold water. If the hose is unobstructed, check to see whether water is flowing through the valve properly. Excess sediment could cause the pipe to get plugged up in which case the valve needs to be replaced.
Problem #10 – The washing machine is dead
Check the electrical connection to see if the device is still plugged in. Under certain conditions, the fuse could blow, or the junction box could trip, so make sure there is still power at the outlet. If the power is OK, the washing machine timer could be broken. This can be checked with a meter.
If the power went off mid-cycle, the load could be unbalanced. Most machines have a signal light for this situation. Simply redistribute the laundry load and restart the cycle.
So you have a Whirlpool, Maytag, GE, Admiral, or one of some washing machine brands.
But now your warranty has run out, and something has gone wrong.
Now it’s repair time. Or is it? Do you pay to get your Whirlpool or Maytag fixed? Do you give it a try yourself? How do you decide what to do?
The first thing you should do before you begin to calculate repair costs or the purchase of a new machine is going through a simple electrical troubleshooting list.
Before doing anything else, make sure your machine is plugged in. If it is, take a look at the breaker and reset it if necessary.
Perhaps the machine you are using has an overload shut-off feature. Remove some of the clothes from your load and try again.
Even if that doesn’t do the trick, there is plenty more to look at before entering full washing machine repair mode. If it is a water heat or water volume issue, make sure your hoses don’t have any kinks and give all your filters a good cleaning.
Maybe the issue is related to water not properly draining from the washer tub. This could be caused by the drain hose to fit too tightly into the standpipe.
A slightly looser fit will allow proper airflow, which will eliminate and air pressure related stoppage.
If none of these simple repairs alleviate the problem, you probably will need to call a washing machine repair professional or give it a go yourself.
With the availability of parts and repair manuals online, you can get a lot of helpful information if you are so inclined.
The critical thing to remember is that the diagnosis is a relatively slow and methodical process.
But before going down this road, you should do some rough calculations and ask yourself some basic questions. How long have I had the machine? What is the potential repair cost when compared to the purchase of a new machine altogether? Is it a repair I can do myself with some instructional help? How much will it take?
As a rule of thumb, a $100 is an average DIY price tag for a new pump with tax and shipping charges factored in. If your washing machine is in otherwise impeccable condition, you might consider spending the money.
However, if your machine has some minor leaks or uses a great deal of water and/or energy, maybe it’s time for that new purchase.
Some very high-quality washing machines have quite accessible prices. Most are now considerably more efficient than their predecessors. Take a look at GE, Whirlpool, LG, and Admiral to start.
Finally, if a simple fix will buy you another ten years of clothes washing happiness, then that is your answer.
If, however, you have been looking for an excuse to buy your designer washer, then, by all means, have at it.
After all, a washing machine is something that should work for you, not against you.
If your washing machine is giving you problems, don’t panic. Before you unload a fistful of hard-earned cash on a repair or a new purchase, be comforted by the fact that troubleshooting washing machines is something that just about anybody can do.
From time to time, your washing machine may refuse to turn on or may stop functioning in mid-cycle. These are usually simple fixes. If it seems like it is a power issue, start with the cord itself.
Be sure that it is inserted into the nearest outlet. The next electrical check is the circuit breaker. Power surges can trip circuit breakers, especially if your home has older wiring. Put the switches back on and try again.
Another power issue can simply be the result of an unbalanced load. Some machines have an automatic shut off feature to prevent excess movement and wobbling. If this should occur, try removing some of the laundries and see if this solves the problem.
Your washing machine troubleshooting ventures may also help you unravel slow water entry into your machine. In this event, first, take a look at your water faucets and make sure that they have been entirely opened by giving them a counterclockwise turn until you meet firm resistance.
Then give all the filters a thorough cleaning. This should be done regularly as a thin film of grime can build up and restrict water flow.
After that, check your water hoses. Older, worn out hoses can easily kink, causing interrupted water flow.
You may come across an agitator that has stopped moving. Because of the rotational movement of most top-loading washing machines, it is possible for clothing articles to get trapped by or wound around the agitator.
Many water drainage issues can be solved, as well. Check your drain hose first to make sure it is clear. A simple clog in the line can back up your machine. Take a look at where the drain hose enters the standpipe.
If the fit is too tight, the lack of proper airflow may inhibit adequate drainage. As before, tangled clothing around the agitator can be a culprit. This can impede movement and prevent your machine from completely draining.
If your washing machine problems persist, you may have to call a professional. Check first to see if your machine is still under manufacturer warranty. For pump or belt issues, you may be required to purchase washing machine parts.
Whirlpool, General Electric, and Maytag machine parts are generally reasonably priced, so the necessary repair may not be that expensive. Remember, by washing machine troubleshooting, first keep your washer going and money in your pocket.
The diversity of possible washing machine problems is quite significant, but each problem has its solution.
Some problems are impossible to fix without professional help from the service center. Still, very often, you can do this by yourself, merely analyzing the source of the problem.
Sometimes the washing machine stops to drain water. The most widespread mistake, in this case, is improper closure of the washer lid. Usually, the washer turns off when the lid is not closed tightly. To continue washing, you just need to close it properly and press the ‘Start’ button again.
If this doesn’t help, check whether the drain hose is free or clogged up. To do this, switch the washer off and remove the drain hose. If you see any kind of clog there, clean it out and place the drain hose to its place. Switch the washer on and check whether this helped.
Another popular breakage is when the washer fills up or drains the water again and again. This usually happens when the drain hose sits below the level of water. To fix this, the host places it above this level.
Another possible reason for such a problem can be a tight attachment of the drain hose to the standpipe. The enclosure should be made loosely, to provide the airflow required for proper drainage process.
If you experience problems with improper wash temperature, recommend checking whether the washer is attached to a proper water inlet hose. If you need to run a cold washing cycle, but the washer is attached to a hot water inlet hose, the temperature will be wrong.