How To Fix Your Washing Machine
In order to repair your own washing machine you must have some detective skills, common sense, patience and some electro-mechanical knowledge.
If none of these apply to you then please call in a professional repairer as you are likely to injure yourself or others in the process.
In order to be successful there are no short cuts for most people. Sure, you can go out and find video tutorials that show you how to look at one machine, see one repair done in a chopped up and friendly way but for the most part these are there as a sales aid to help the company that made them sell washing machine parts. They're not really there to help you so much as the people that made the video.
The problem is that every washing machine is different, even although they pretty much all operate using the same principals and it simply isn't possible or even remotely economically viable, to produce a video for each washing machine problem or repair. So you end up with general principles that, while they can be helpful to a degree, can instill a false sense of confidence.
We're going to remove that and tell you the truth and walk you through the process that should allow you, if you have the ability, to repair your own washing machine.
This is a logical process that runs like this:
- Gather information on the nature of the fault to help work out the problem
- Figure out the general area where the fault lies
- Find out how to access the parts that you need to
- Test the suspected failed components
- Order any spare parts you need
- Fit the new spares
- Test the washing machine
Below we will expand on each step and explain what you should be doing so you don't waste time or money buying parts you don't need. You would be astonished how many people buy parts, fit them, then decide to look for help when the problem is not resolved. This is not a good or effective way to repair any washing machine.
Where To Start When Repairing a Washing Machine
The first thing that you need to do is determine the symptoms of the fault on your washing machine.
If this runs true to form (although not always true and please don't accuse us of being sexist) then the person tasked with repairing the washing machine isn't usually the person that uses it. If you get the drift and no slight is made or implied on anyone, it's just the way things seem to be.
What we get and, most people faced with a bust washer gets, is a fault report like "It's not working" or "It just doesn't work". These aren't even remotely helpful in diagnosing a fault on a washing machine as you have to figure out what is not working and, to do that, the more information that you can gather before you even touch a screwdriver, the better. And, it can save you a lot of time, hassle and money if you take the time to investigate what the problem is before starting any repair work.
There are guides on here for basic fault diagnosis already and they've been there a long, long time. Thousands of people read them and with good reason, the faults that are common in these guides point the way to the fault or what components
The more information that you can gather in advance, the better the description of the fault the better and this helps with many other things that we will explain below.
Apart from that, get the model number, serial number and any production codes from the rating plate of the washing machine, don't use or trust the instruction book for this as in many cases they tell lies. The rating plate is the only trustworthy place to get information.
Washing Machine Fault Codes
These days it is all too common that the fault on a washing machine reported by a user will be that a light is flashing or a code is in the display and that the machine refuses to work.
This is a fault or error code.
These are not a magic bullet as you will see written extensively on this site, they are intended as a diagnostic aid and no more than this. They point toward the general area of a fault but very, very rarely actually tell you which part has failed. To work that out you need to apply the detective and diagnostic skills once you know what it means.
Many of the most common fault codes are on the site in the self repair section and many, many more are in the forums. Find the fault code that you have then you can start to figure out what's broken.
Getting Help With Repairing Your Washing Machine
All that information you've gathered above, you will need it all to get decent help from any of the engineers or spares suppliers. Assuming of course that you need some extra help of course, you might be fine as you are.
But you should now know the following at the very least:
- Washing machine model number
- Washing machine serial number
- Any production numbers (12NC, PNC, ENR, FNR etc.)
- A proper fault description and symptoms of the fault on the washing machine
- Any fault code that the washing machine is displaying if applicable
If you do not have these the help that anyone can give will either be limited or simply not possible. The more information you give, the better and faster the help you will get in general.
To contact us for a spare part is really easy, you can do that from this link but bear in mind the above and also that spares will find and track spares, give you all the information and more you could ever want about washing machine spare parts but they cannot give you technical support beyond the spare part.
For more technical support and help to figure out what the problem is with your washing machine use the washing machine help and support forum from this link. In there your request will be seen by scores of washing machine engineers and, if one can help you or point you in the right direction, they will. Bear in mind however, if you post a request without the information in the list above the help they can offer may be limited.
Before you do post though, search! Very often the common problems have come up before and already been answered.
Use the search in the forum and also the main site, the button is up above to search all the articles as if it's a common enough problem, it will probably be there.
Specific Guidance On A Washing Machine Fault
There are, literally, hundreds of washing machine models on the market at any given point in time. They change every few months normally and these can be small or large changes. Each change means a new production code or a new model number, often meaning different parts being used on that model as well.
This means that getting a step by step guide on what screw or screws to remove to even get the lid off a machine will not generally exist. Manufacturers assume that anyone repairing their washing machines will have the experience and skill to work it out. They do not produce service manuals that are even slightly consumer friendly as that costs money and, when people want cheap and cheaper washing machines, any cost they can cut, they do. So, in almost all cases forget about getting a service manual or suchlike that will offer you a Haynes manual like detail for each model or even series of washing machines because, they do not exist.
Now, due to what we think is stupid legislation, offering blow by blow instructions can land someone in court being sued. The reason (of course) is a health and safety issue as we apparently can't say if you are competent to do as described and not maim or injure yourself or someone else while attempting a repair. But we also can't judge the competence of the next two hundred or thousand people that read the article or forum thread either, which is a fair point.
For this reason you will get replies like "Look at the side and you will see two small covers, pop them off and it will become obvious how o get the panel off the washing machine." It tells you what you need to know but you need to apply some common sense. And, if you don't get it, you really need a professional washing machine repair service.
The Biggest Challenges When Repairing a Washing Machine
Getting into the machine!
Getting to the components and parts you want to look at!
Sometimes, even for us pros, these are the biggest challenges. We may well know (or pretty much know) what the problem is but getting to the parts we want to can be challenging and, at times, seemingly impossible.
So think what this can be like for a complete novice.
Working out how to access the washing machine can be a royal pain in the rear and there are occasions while you work it out that things get broken. Usually plastic trims, fascias and so on as they can be hard to work out. The key is to be gentle, take your time and have the patience to sit and work it out. Often you could kick yourself as it's so obvious after the event but be scratching your head for a while working it out.
This is another reason why all these online videos and tutorials about repairing a washing machine are useless. The problem often isn't swapping over a drain pump or a set of carbon brushes, it's getting to the parts in the first place that is the problem.
If you get stuck, ask in the forums. The guys will help you if they can.
Testing Washing Machine Parts
In large part a washing machine is a mechanical device with electrical or electronic controls.
So mechanical faults are fairly easy to spot. Failed bearings, a faulty pulley, jammed drain pump and so on are easy to diagnose and you will find all the guides to do that in this section of the website. If you can't, just ask in the forums.
Electrical faults are a bit harder but still usually still relatively straightforward. You will need a normal multi-meter to measure resistance and test for continuity and, if you have no clue what I'm talking about it's time to use the engineer search and call in a professional washing machine repairer.
Most components will either have a circuit or not. Dead simple.
Electronic components like pressure sensors and thermistors read resistance, again easily checked with a meter.
There is absolutely no need at all in any instance to live test any component. If you do we will consider you to be bordering on being an idiot with a death wish and help will be scarce. In short, don't live test as it's a sure way to end up injured at best but possibly dead.
Every year at least one or two people are killed trying to repair a washing machine or other appliance, don't be one of them as you've at least taken the time to read all this.
Even the pros can come a cropper. Every now and again you will hear of an engineer who has almost been killed, electrocuted or had his hand almost removed by a washing machine on spin. Take care, electricity can kill and there are some really sharp bits in a washing machine.
Safety is paramount. Unplug the washing machine before you even go near it with a screwdriver or any other tool.
What A Washing Machine Will Do - How To Test A Washing Machine
When we test a machine we do what's known as a "spec test" that is, we check that the machine does all the things that it is supposed to do when it is supposed to do them, to specification, hence the name.
On more modern washing machines with electronic controllers or modules there will often be a test procedure for the washing machine for the specific series. This isn't always required but if you get in trouble and you have the information running a test procedure or diagnostic routine is often the fastest (an cheapest) option as it narrows down where the fault lies.
In any event the program we usually use to test is a good old 40˚C cotton wash and here's what any washing machine should do:
How To Test A Washing Machine Part 1
- Power comes on and any display should fire up ready to start
- Most electronic machines will at this point do a sort of pre-flight check and test some components
- Select program
- Press start (or equivalent)
- Door will lock
- Fills with water from the main soap compartment
- Drum rotation left or right and tumble speed for cotton (max approx 54rpm) depending on the machine
- Fills to level
- Tumbles in both directions to distribute the laundry
- Starts to heat the water
At this point, if all that was successful, there is not much point in going on unless the fault is that the washing machine is overheating as you will learn little else as the cycle is continued.
If it stops at any point though, then you're narrowing down where the fault in the washing machine lies.
If the machine doesn't power up then look at the power supply, the fuse for the washing machine then the mains interference filter and then the power switch if one is used. On some models the door lock is in circuit at this point but that's not common.
Next, if the door lock fails to lock the washing machine door the machine will not advance and/or throw up an error code. For safety reasons (obvious really) the washing machine is halted there and then.
After that the washing machine should start to fill with watter and, if it fails to fill, go straight to the water inlet valves and test them first.
If there is no drum rotation then it is possible the motor carbon brushes (if fitted), the motor or the motor control board that is faulty.
If the washing machine just keeps on filling then pressure switch or sensor is either faulty or the path to it blocked.
If the water heater doesn't fire up then it could well be the element or a thermostat that is faulty.
See, simple test, learn a lot.
On washing machines that use fault codes any one of these steps failing to operate will most likely generate an error code.
Now, fast forward and do a spin to test the rest.
How To Test A Washing Machine Part 2
Next up you need to select a spin only program or, on older non-electronic washing machines, the spin portion of the main cycle if there isn't a spin only program. What follows is what happens.
- The washing machine will drain down and empty the water out of the drum
- Whilst draining the drum may agitate in either direction, depends on the machine
- Once drained you will hear the pump "sucking" as there's no water (or not enough) for the drain pump to pump out
- Then the machine may agitate a bit to try to sort the load again, this depends on the machine
- The washing machine will then ramp up into a short slow spin and then drop back again
- It will then (depending on the spin profile) work its way back up to a full spin
Although this process can take ten minutes or more it is worth doing because you have just shown the machine to be doing the following and, tested the following components:
The drain pump you know is working as the machien has drained the water out. If it fails at that hurdle then the drain pump is either blocked in some way or faulty.
You know that the washing machine spins and you can see all the spin speeds up to full and, you also saw the motor turning in both directions again. So you know that the motor and motor controller are okay.
If the washing machine does not spin then check the carbon brushes if fitted first.
And that's all there is to carrying out a simple test that will check all the major components in a washing machine quickly, easily and without even pulling it out.
Ordering a Washing Machine Spare Part
Now it's then time to order the spare part you need as you know what's wrong.
Now, being as we sell washing machine spare parts we are obviously going to tell you to order from us. A shameless plug I know but there is good reason, that's what we do. That's what we've always done and between the people that will advise on washing machine spares there's more than a century's worth of experience. We know what we're doing and talking about here.
If the spares you need are not listed in the store it is all too likely that there's one of two reasons for that, the first is that we've never been asked for that particular part as unlike most we don't just list everything and confuse the living daylights out you (there's over 5 million spares available at a best guess) or, second, we don't think that the part would ever fail or be needed. So if you don't see what you think you need it's worth asking before you order from us or someone else.
If you ask us for a part and get an email back asking if you are sure you need that part, that's why. We're trying to help you by doing this and save you getting lost in the whole affair.
We might sell spares but we're not in the business of profiteering or selling parts needlessly, we like to see people coming back to us.
Fitting A Spare Part
If you figured out the washing machine part you need, got it delivered and checked it was correct before you attempt to fit it then you're good to go.
Do take heed of the above though and follow this simple checklist:
- Check the part you ordered is the spare part you received
- Check the part is undamaged in transit
- Check that the part is what you need before you attempt to fit it
The first one is, I would think and most sane people, pretty obvious. But, it's not actually as obvious in some cases as you might think and, this is where services like ours become valuable.
Manufacturers change suppliers all the time and, they often change the specifications of spare parts so, what you order may differ to what you get. We of course suss this out and send the most up to date, current, spare part and wherever we can we update the part descriptions in the shop to tell you that. Many don't.
And of course, when you email us asking to verify a part is correct you are speaking to a washing machine engineer, not someone who's never seen the inside of a washing machine or gone near one with a nut runner in their life. So you tend to get pretty good answers on that front and, if we don't know the specific answer there's a bunch of engineers (over 1000 of them) that are in the forums that will usually try to help, normally one of them has seen the problem before.
The second item on the list is thankfully obvious. Any transit damage is almost always immediately apparent and easily spotted.
The third is very, very important.
It is not uncommon for people to order up parts by sight, they look at the photo on a website and think that it's the correct part. Only, it doesn't work like that.
All washing machine spare parts (all appliance spare parts really) are identified by make, model number, production or serial number. Doing it any other way is very likely to result in you getting the wrong spare part. Another reason for the initial information gathering part.
If you get a part and it looks different email us for advice. Do not attempt to fit it then return it as no spares supplier will accept returns of parts you've damaged through trying to unsuccessfully fit the part.
Also bear in mind and, this happens on a semi-frequent basis, if you order up the likes of an electronic module, fan motor or any other spar part and fit it, find out that's not the fault and think you can return it for credit, don't bother.
All spares suppliers we know will tell you that, if you fit it then it's yours.
The main reasons are that we don't know if whatever else caused the fault has damaged the part you've just fitted to your washing machine, for example a dead short heating element can blow a new control PCB so you could have blown the new part through an incorrect diagnosis. And, importantly, we cannot legally resell that spare part as being a new item as you've fitted it and run it, so it is now second hand whether it's working or not.
We have talked to Trading Standards on this in the past and it's a grey area in the Distance Selling Regulations but, if a spares supplier refuses to accept the return it has been upheld in the past as "reasonable" under the circumstances. So, be acutely aware that some suppliers can refuse to accept a return.
Bear in mind that for the trade, where they buy spare parts, there is usually no returns at all accepted. We buy the part, that's it, there's no going back.
Unopened and unused parts are generally accepted for return but, even if like some people, you try to be clever and return them as unused and you have fitted the spare part, suppliers know they've been fitted, there's always evidence.
We take a more case-by-case view rather than a blanket one.
Now you can fit the part.
Test The Washing Machine
Once you fit the new spare part to your washing machine it's time to fire it up and test it.
This is easy enough and pretty obvious for most and, if you still have a problem go back to the top of this page and start all over again.
Professional Washing Machine Repairs
After all this, if you still think that your local washing machine engineer is charging you too much then there's not a lot I can say. They do a lot, a lot more than people realise, to earn their fees and repairing a washing machine with having to figure out what the problem is, get the spare part or parts, fit them, test the machine and put it all back in working order is not a two minute job.
Sure, some jobs are pretty easy and often the professionals make it look easy and, to them, it may well be so. To a complete novice, not so much.
That is the value of experience.
You are paying for these guy's experience, knowledge and diagnostic skills and sometimes, especially when the repairers in the forums tell you they don't recommend the job as a DIY one, they're not actually kidding.