Washing Machine Installation
If you do not want wreck your new washing machine ensure you install it correctly
Over the past couple of decades there has been pressure on manufacturers from customers to reduce energy use not to mention the various pieces of legislation that also demand lower energy consumption. As is often the case however, there are unintended side effects to this that were likely never considered.
One of the largest problems that we see on modern washing machines is on installations and, specifically, washing machines being installed in unsuitable environments.
Biggest Factor In Warranty Callouts
Believe it or not, improper installations on washing machines can account for up to 85% of all reported callouts or service requests in the first few months of ownership. Some faults caused by an incorrect installation can take months to materialise.
The second largest reason to get called out in warranty is, bluntly, customer misuse or educational visits.
A case of, please read the manual.
None of the above is covered by any manufacturer's warranty and, if you insist on a service visit and it turns out to be either the machine is installed incorrectly or, you're doing it wrong, you will invariably be charged for the visit.
In commercial premises, improper installation/misuse/abuse/improper use accounts for over 95% of all calls placed.
Considering where you are installing your washing machine can not only save you a lot of heartache and hassle but, it can also save you a fortune.
Condensation Can Kill Your Washing Machine
Condensation usually forms, as we all know, where warm air hits cold surfaces but, in our experience with washing machines it is more than likely the former that will cause issue.
What can be caused by condensation is a few startling obvious faults that only require a modicum of common sense to work out. Trouble is that lots of people (some engineers included) think that appliances should simply work regardless of where and how you install them and, that simply is not true.
All modern appliances should never be installed in a place of either high humidity or, where the ambient room temperature will or is likely to drop below 10˚C. If you choose to do otherwise, any of the following may well happen to you.
The first thing that can be caused and, possibly the most serious as it will cause damage, is that components can be "blown" due to water shorting across electrical terminals or tracks inside the washing machine on components like electronic control boards, timers, thermistors, pressure switches and so on.
All these will usually be where the connections are close together allowing water to track across and cause a failure.
Just look at the picture to the below.
This is an inverter card from a washing machine that was retrieved from a machine installed in an unheated room. Condensation had formed on the board, the water pooled and blew straight across the live and neutral tracks on the board during a cold snap.
Exactly the same thing can happen where you take a new machine from a cold delivery van into a warm kitchen. Which is why, during the winter months, many of the smarter installers will either check inside for signs of condensation before they test the machine or, will ask that you don't use the machine for a day or two until the machine reaches room temperature.
This might seem obvious but, to a great many people it isn't.
Random Errors On Your Washing Machine
Remember back at the start we mentioned using electronic controls and sensors, well, they use low voltage signalling and largely resistance to calculate how much water your washing machine has in it, what temperature it is at and a whole heap of other stuff.
Now, consider what will happen if those readings are wrong.
What can and, often does happen, where washing machines are installed in the wrong environment, is that condensation forms on the terminal posts of these components or around them causing the resistance to be incorrect as seen by the electronic controller.
The result is that the main control board cannot interpret the reading and simply shuts down or displays an error and refuses to continue.
The good news here is that, usually, once the washing machine dries out it will operate normally again with no harm done. Usually, not always.
Washing Machine Voltage Errors
If the condensation forms on, for example a radio interference filter or mains block and tracks to earth then you can get the RCD or another safety device tripping at the main fuse box. Not at all uncommon, especially on farms and old stone buildings.
But, many washing machines these days will have a built in safety feature in the electronics to protect those sensitive electronic components from damage through an irregular voltage supply. So, if the mains voltage is read as being irregular or out of range in any way, shape or form by the washing machine, the chances are, it will either report that error or simply shut down.
Couple any of the above with older mains supplies or an off-grid installation and, frankly, it's a recipe for disaster.
Frozen Washing Machine
Every winter we see it.
Common sense (you would think) would dictate that if you have a machine that has water in it and, there is always some residual standing water in a washing machine, that the water in there will freeze if it gets cold enough.
This can cause drain errors as the washing machine cannot drain as water in the drain hose is frozen solid, the water that the pump is sitting in is frozen solid and attempting to operate the machine in that condition is likely to damage the drain pump.
We even see this on new build when the new home owner moves in and tries to use the washing machine or dishwasher as the house has lain empty with the heating off. Same when people switch off their heating or turn it way down to a frost guard setting, it can happen as it is not warm enough to prevent ice forming.
Every winter we also see split inlet valves, internal hoses and so on simply as they have frozen and the expansion has burst the components. This is normally not a lot of fun when it thaws as it usually results in flooding.
Washing Machine Installation Ambient Requirements
Any washing machine we would strongly recommend is installed at "normal room temperature" only, that is to say between 15˚C and 30˚C. Outside of this range then you might risk any of the above.
The absolute minimum temperature we would recommend is 10˚C for the sake of safety and the washing machine.
This is absolutely imperative to ensure the proper operation of a modern washing machine. We cannot stress enough how many so-called washing machine "faults" are caused by the above.
Places Unsuitable For Washing Machine Installation
As a quick list, although no exhaustive, the following places are not suitable to install a washing machine to as a general rule:
- Outbuildings (High dampness risk, cold temperatures (winter), too warm (summer), freeze risk)
- Basements (High dampness risk, temperature concerns)
- Unheated rooms (High dampness risk, temperature concerns)
- Bathrooms (splash risks, humidity concerns, legislative concerns)
- Garages (High dampness risk, cold temperatures (winter), too warm (summer), freeze risk)
- Conservatories (High dampness risk, cold temperatures (winter), too warm (summer), freeze risk)