Fault Finding On Washing Machines

Quick Washing Machine Fault Diagnosis Guide

This short guide is designed to outline the most common problems, a washing machine FAQ if you like, with what we refer to as "Laundry" appliances, that is to say that they either wash or dry clothing etc. This guide is not intended as a "buyer's guide", you can find lots of information on buying a washing machine in the section from this link.

Although many people that read this guide are looking for a quick way to find out how to repair a washing machine there isn't really any shortcuts. Not if you want to do it properly, not cause any harm and actually successfully repair your washing machine. What this guide is intended to do is compliment all the other information that you will find in the site detailing individual washing machine spares in the Spare Parts advice section as well as the other articles in this section to allow you to correctly diagnose the problem or, at least have a clue about what the fault is and how to go about repairing your washing machine.

If you take the time to read and learn, perhaps even make use of the washing machine forum then the chances are you will be able to repair your washing machine so long as you are reasonably confident and handy. If you do not have the time or patience we'd strongly suggest that you get a professional washing machine repair company to do the work for you (obviously as that's what our members do) from our engineer search.

If you don't follow the advice, chances are you will spend money repalcing spares needlessly, the wrong spare parts and still have a busted washing machine.

Safety First When Repairing A Washing Machine

Please remember to keep yourself and your family safe by following our simple basic electrical safety guide. Quite simply it is not worth someone's life or an injury just to save a few pounds calling in a professional repairer.

If you don't know are unsure then do not risk you or your family's safety and call in a professional repairer

To get the best possible service we would recommend our repairs@ service which will refer you to a local repairer that operates to a standard that we have set in our own code of practice. It is your guarantee that the service that you receive will be a quality repair that is fairly priced and guaranteed.

The problems here are frequently asked about in the forums and you may well be able to help yourself before posting a question or calling an engineer however we must stress, above all else, that your own safety is your primary concern.

Common Washing Machine Problems

washing machine washing clothes Almost every home in the UK has one and, inevitably, they will all malfunction at some stage, the only question is on how long they will run before breaking down and how much it will cost to repair. This is covered, in part, by the manufacturers section which offers lots of information on many of the domestic appliance brands sold in the UK.

Please bear in mind that this washing machine and washer dryer guide is very generic and offers only rough guidance and not expert opinion on any one appliance or brand, so some common sense will be required.

What you will see here is some general comments followed by a list of common components to check, if required seek further help within the forums.

Washing machine won't start, no power

There's lots of things that can cause this to happen but as with any fault diagnosis, start at the beginning and work through the problem methodically. So begin at the plug, make sure that there is power to the socket and that the fuse is okay before looking any further.

  • Mains filter
  • Door lock
  • Mains cable & terminal block
  • Main power switch
  • Control PCB
Washing machine won't drain or is noisy on drain

Generally this will be some sort of drain pump failure or blockage, there is an article solely on drain pumps from this link

  • Drain pump blocked
  • Drain pump faulty
  • Waste outlet hose blocked
  • Sump hose blocked
  • Object in pump
  • Poor flooring or installation
Washing machine noisy

See the above, drain pump faulty, as this can cause horrendous noise from the washer, especially something trapped in the pump.

Objects trapped in between the outer tub and drum can also be a cause of noise, things like bra wires are extremely common to be retrieved and they can cause damage to the machine and any clothing in it. If you can, remove the wires before washing.

The use of a wash bag for small items can greatly reduce the chances of items getting between the drum and tub, you can buy these from our store

If the machine is a few years old then it is very possible that the bearings are either faulty, collapsed or just starting to go. With bearings the sooner that they are replaced the better as there is liable to be less damage and, if you know that they are faulty, not using or minimising the use will help to avoid further damage.

Stability can also cause excessive noise, especially where the machine is on a wooden or floating floor. Obviously a fault with the suspension system can also produce the same result.

  • Noisy pump
  • Object in the drain pump
  • Object trapped in the tub
  • Bearings faulty
  • Washing machine not levelled correctly
  • Faulty dampers or suspension
  • Poor flooring or installation

washing machine door open with clothes

Washing machine drum not turning

Normally when this happens people often assume that the belt is faulty and, whilst this can be a cause, on most modern machines the belt will more often than not outlive the actual machine. It is not the common problem that it was many years ago and hasn't been for many years.

The problem these days is more liable to be the likes of a speed control PCB or module or even what is referred to as the "tacho generator" on the washing machine's motor.

Notably on older Hotpoint machines, pre-2003 especially, with a GEC motor fitted the carbon brushes being worn can cause this. There is an article based on the subject of carbon brushes alone, click here to read that article

Assuming everything else works these should be checked:

  • Belt
  • Speed control PCB or module
  • Motor capacitor (where fitted)
  • Main control module
  • Motor faulty
  • Faulty carbon brushes
Washing machine timer not advancing

This is a tricky one and it's not really possible to be entirely polite as so many people make the mistake of thinking immediately that the timer or controller is faulty when, in fact, it's often got nothing whatsoever to do with the timer. So if you're reading this and thinking that the timer is faulty, you're probably wrong.

Normally the timer will advance to a certain stage before stopping and that gives us a huge lead on diagnosis of the actual problems as, what happens is that the machine will almost certainly halt where the actual faulty component is called into use.

What this means is that almost any component can cause this fault and, if you are unsure we would strongly advise that you seek professional help because, if you blow £100 or more on a timer or module and you're wrong then the chances are that it will be non-returnable.

Washing machine not heating

Pretty easy one usually, in most cases there will be a faulty heater, thermostat, thermistor or pressure switch but there can be other causes.

  • Heater
  • Thermostat
  • Thermistor
  • Pressure switch/level sensor
  • Timer or control PCB/module
Washing machine is vibrating badly

If you've just installed the machine then the chances are that you have not removed the transit packing properly, go back and read the manual again to see how it is done as, if an engineer calls under warranty and this is the fault you are very likely to be charged for the visit as it's not a fault.

See also The Great Spin Speed Debate and Installation articles.

Assuming the machine has been in a while then the problem can still be flooring or installation related, but more commonly it will be a suspension problem. Of course there are other faults that can manifest themselves in this manner, but it is rare.

  • Suspension
  • Bearing failure (See previous "Washing machine noisy")
Washing machine not spinning

Again often blamed on the belt (see previous) but in 20 years I can almost count on one hand how many washers I've seen a faulty belt causing no spin on, it is very rare.

See the previous "Washing machine drum won't turn" as many of the problems described there can be mirrored to this problem.

Remember very carefully, if the machine cannot drain or drain correctly then the spin will often abort rather than actually not spin so bear this in mind when looking for a problem.

  • Speed control PCB/module
  • Faulty or worn carbon brushes
  • Faulty contacts on fast cam within the timer
  • Faulty capacitor (where fitted)
  • Faulty motor
  • Faulty motor tacho
  • Blocked pump or drain
  • Overloaded or out of balance, can be made worse by poor installation or flooring
  • Faulty bearings
  • Faulty door lock mechanism
  • Faulty pressure switch
Washing machine not filling

First, check the water supply is okay!

Assuming it is then the first port of call will be the water valve, these are easily available from our online store and pretty straightforward to change.

Pressure switch and electronic components can also cause this problem and it is often mistakenly reported as a fill problem when really, it is actually just that the machine won't start in the first place.

  • Water supply
  • Water fill valve
  • Pressure switch
  • Control PCB/module

Nice white washing being hung out to dry

Poor washing results from washing machine

There is a vast amount of information on UK Whitegoods to help with this problem in the advice and help articles.

Start with these ones:

How to use detergent correctly

Washing machine maintenance wash

An entire section devoted to explaining stains and marks with some really useful advice on how to remove stains.

Overloading and the problems it causes as well as how it hampers performance.

Bad smell from washing machine

Again this has been extensively covered in detail from this article all about smelly washing machines and the from links will lead you to many associated problems, such as mould problems. Also covered here is the likes of mould or black marks (which are really mould) on the door seal and dirty soap drawers.

Washing machine lights flash and won't work

This is most likely a new electronically controlled machine and the flashing lights will almost certainly be giving you a fault code of some sort. Until you know what that fault code is in some cases (notably the famous Indesit/Hotpoint blinking LED) you won't be able to go much further.

More advice on specifics may be gained through using the forums although we cannot guarantee that you will find the answer to your problem, we will help as much as we can.

Washing machine leaks from the front

Check that the soap box isn't blocked first of all as that is the prime suspect here. Bear in mind that it is clean water and you may not see the water run down the front to the door surround, where it gathers and drips from the bottom of the door so the fault can often be reported as, "door leaking".

Of course the door can leak and, generally, it will need a new door seal (virtually all of which we can supply online from the shop or by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or the door glass may simply need cleaned. Scum can build up on the glass causing the small part that actually seals to not meet the door glass correctly and so it leaks.

  • Soap box
  • Soap box to tub hose
  • Door Seal
  • Door glass
Washing machine leaking from underneath

Okay this is another one of those "could be anything" ones. Water follows Newton's Law, i.e. it flows downwards with gravity so any component at all leaking can cause this, but the common ones to be looking for are listed here.

  • Drain pump leaking
  • Filter leaking
  • Tub gasket leaking
  • Hose split
  • Hose leaking (any of them)
  • Water pressure too high
  • Heater gasket perished
  • Door seal
  • Pressure switch or sensor fault (overfilling)
  • Physical tub damage
  • Soap drawer damage

Washer Dryer Problems (can also mostly apply to condenser dryers)

Washer dryers are, frankly, a nightmare in a white box. In general the repairers hate them as they are more problematic, harder to work on and have a tendency not to live up to the promises and people's expectations. So, if it's a performance issue that you're having with the dryer there's probably nothing wrong with it, they're pretty much all bad.

Remember that, in addition to the following, washer dryers share every fault listed for washing machines as well!

Actual condenser dryers are okay these days although the cheaper ones do tend to give more trouble than the better built machines. They are more complex though so if you're not sure, just get in a pro to look at it.

Heat pump dryers are specialist only affairs, we would strongly recommend that if you have a fault on one to not touch it yourself.

Washer dryer not drying

Very common fault and also one that can be caused by many things, it's simply a case of eliminating the suspects.

  • Faulty water valve
  • Blocked condensate chamber
  • Faulty heater
  • Faulty thermostat or thermistor
  • Faulty pressure switch
  • Faulty pump
  • Spin faulty so the clothes are too wet to be dried
Washer dryer leaks on dry

This can be a tricky one, but normally one of these:

  • Condensate chamber or seal faulty
  • Trickle hose faulty
  • Drain pump leaking
Washer dryer noisy on dry

This one's usually just a bundle of laughs to put right, especially on some of the more "unusual" dryer designs we see. But look at the dryer fan motor for the usual culprit, quite often this will be caused by the fan breaking up or the motor bearings failing.

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Can't Find It? Need More Help With Your Fault? 

Many people try to work out the problem with their washing machine before calling an engineer to repair it to figure out if it is worth it or, before buying spare parts to attempt to repair it yourself. With our repair guides, written by washing machine engineers, you will often be able to work out the problem yourself and solve the most common problems that crop up with washing machines. And, for more specific advice you can use our free forums to get even more help.

Get technical help for your washing machine, dishwasher, cooker and other appliances in our help and support forums To get technical help for a washing machine then please click here for our washing machine forum
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