Washing Machines Tripping
If your washing machine trips your electrics it can be any number of things that cause it
If your washing machine trips the electrics, trips an RCD (Residual Current Device), fuse or other safety device then there is a number of simple checks that you can do in order to try to narrow down what the problem could be.
It should be pointed out that this article nor any of the checklists given are exhaustive, in other words, there can be more issues than are highlighted here but what follows are the most common problems and advice to help you narrow the possible reasons hopefully allowing you to diagnose the problem and quite possibly repair it yourself.
We have to stress that these are general guidlines and diagnostic advice, they are not intended to be make or model specific therefore you will need to apply some diagnostics skills and good old fashioned common sense to use this guide correctly. If you require further assistance please use the forums for help where the engineers will help you if they can. If you do not understand the principals set out in this article we would strongly recommend that you seek a professional repairer to assist from our engineer search from the menu above.
Before you even start however, remove all mains power from the appliance. Do not work on any appliance with the power connected it is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
Normally when a fuse or RCD trips and the appliance is the issue it will be as a result of either a dead short or earth leakage and it will happen every time the product is switched on.
That said, there are times where any washing machine will "trip" only when certain functions are used and this will often, especially with laundry appliances, point to a specific component being faulty. This does not hold true for every instance but, as a general rule it should do in most cases.
For washing machines this means that tracking down the cause is normally relatively straightforward most of the time and largely an exercise in common sense and a process of elimination. However, there are a number of reasons that may not be so obvious and you may well require at the very least an electrical meter, time, patience and a basic knowledge of how to use that meter.
One to watch for in colder weather most often or, in unheated areas such as garages, outdoor buildings, huts and even conservatories etc is dampness.
Water and electricity do not mix well and dampness getting inot sensitive low voltage components as well as mains voltage parts such as motors, control modules and so on will cause the machine to trip. This can happen when the machine is powered up or during operation.
This is the reason why we often have to point out to people that modern machines are designed for indoor use in a normal home environment and at normal room temperatures. They are not suitable in low temperature and/or high humidity environments and, if you use them in such places, expect issues.
Fuse Trips As Soon As The Washing Machine Is Switched On
If the fuse goes as soon as the washing machine is connected and power is applied then the first go-to thing to look at is obviously the plug wiring if applicable and the cable looks okay. Make sure that this is correct and sound, as in well connected and undamaged.
Blown plug tops and cables, like the example in the image are all too common and can indicate an issue with your home electrics more than your washing machine. The rule of thumb there is, do not assume, test and check.
Then check the supply is okay. This will involve ensuring that the outlet that the washing machine is connected to is good and is working correctly. Take care as a faulty socket can cause this and is probably one of the most common reasons and, isn’t covered by manufacturer warranties either as it’s not the machine that’s faulty.
On older machines do check the terminal block is not burned out or scorched, they will sometimes degrade with age and fail or, melt.
If you need a terminal block please ask us before ordering unless you are completely sure as they all look the same but can have different terminals or positions and, they can also be altered over time, it is very much worth checking before you order a replacement.
For washing machines the next thing that gets power is normally the mains radio interference filter. This is the small capacitor like component that will normally have four or five wires coming from it and, almost always, will be mounted onto the inside of the washing machine cabinet where the power cord enters, right after the mains terminal block. On some more recent machines we have seen these integrated into the terminal block and mains cable and if this is the case this will be supplied as a full unit normally.
Main Power Switches And Door Locks
After this it’s the main power switch that will normally be powered up next when you press the power button or, for some models, turn a dial to switch your washing machine on.
In most washing machines all that this does is make or break the live supply with the Neutral permanently connected all the way through as most all washing machines are live switched. There are the odd exceptions but these are extremely rare and tend to be on really old machines from the 70’s, 80’s or before.
Where live and neutral are together in the one place, there’s the potential for it to burn or arc terminals and so on leading to component failure.
After the mains power switch the next item normally powered up (aside models and timers in many) is the door safety lock, commonly known as a door interlock in the industry. These are small safety lock designed to lock the door and keep it lock at all times during the wash cycle. For almost all there is a potential for failure here and if the door lock is electrically faulty or arcing internally it can cause an RCB unit to trip.
If you have a machine that’s not got a mains switch on it you can find those popping the RCD when the door is closed, that’s a good indication that the door safety interlock is likely to be faulty and causing the electrics to trip.
Beyond this point you are into the actual working electrical elements in the washing machine and things can become more complex and can vary from machine to machine but the general principals will remain.
Power Blows When The Program Is Started
This is almost invariably caused by a faulty component however, depending one what machine it is the diagnosis can change.
On most washing machines, if the power trips when you switch it on, it can point to a number of things that are all energised (as in, they are fed power at that point) and the trick is working out which one is the problem but, we'll try to point you in the right direction. Or at least allow you to narrow the field of candidates.
The things energised when a normal wash cycle is engaged are:
- Mains power switch as detailed above
- Door lock
- Inlet water valve
- Heating element
As you can see, by following the path that the elements or components above are the most likely causes for a trip or blown fuse if it is doing this after the program is selected and started.
Water inlet valves are a very rare cause of this, so much so that you can almost invariably dismiss this as a potential candidate for this kind of fault.
The motor is a bit more complicate as it depends on the configuration in the particular machine that you have. You can have an older induction type motor with a capacitor on it. A more traditional brushed motor and on those a faulty armature, winding and even the carbon brushes can cause this. Or, you can have a modern DC type induction motor that will have an inverter card that controls the motor voltage. Almost any can be a cause of trouble, rarely but it is not unknown.
The heating element is a favourite cause of tripping and fuses blowing and these can be easily checked with an electrical meter or earth leak meter to determine if they are faulty. What usually happens is that the machine will fire up, fill and tumble a couple of times them pop the fuse or trip as the heating element is energised.
If you get a machine tripping out after this it is likely to be a heater problem, the insulation breaking down as it heats, thermostats and a few other oddities are possible but, not common.
How To Test Components
Once you work out the likely suspects that may be the problem it is time to then look at each component in turn. Now, because we've been working out problems with washing machines for years, we know what components are the most liable to fail or to give issue and, you probably don't. That means we'd run through a mental checklist of things that are the most probable points of failure on any cooker so we'd likely get there faster but, with a little care, attention and patience you can normally work it out.
The first thing though is to stay safe!
Remove the power before you start working. It is essential as there will be components that carry lives mains power and that can kill.
Next, you will need a multimeter or similar to test components. Some faults you can see visually but, many you won't and you need to test them to determine if they are faulty and require replaced or if you should look elsewhere.
We do hope all that makes sense and, if you have read this article thoroughly and followed the advice as well as that given in the related articles then we would guess that you would be able to find the problem in 90% or more cases. But, you need to read them and follow the information.
If you need more help please ask in the forums.