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Top Washing Machine Problems and How To Fix Them

Washing machines have come a long way since their invention in 1767. These earlier versions consisted of nothing but a tank and some rollers. It wasn’t until the early 1920s that the modern automatic electric washing machines were invented. Today, a washing machine is the most common home appliance in America, but like all inventions, these things tend to act up.

Top washing machine problems include the inability to drain, not spinning, excessive vibrations, noise, flashing lights, and repeating cycles. Most are due to improper usage or installation, which can be fixed at home. Other complications, including overheating, may require repair and replacement.

Washing machine service technician doing repairs

Washing machines are great until they start having problems. This article covers all the common washing machine problems and the appropriate solutions. The general areas covered include:

  • Problems with draining and water leakage
  • Excessive noise and vibrations
  • Failure to spin or start
  • Flashing lights
  • The washer keeps repeating cycles
  • Malfunctions with the doors

Washing Machine Stuck On Sensing

Hand adjusting the washing machine knob

Modern washing machines are equipped with several sensors to automate the washing process. Pressure sensors detect water levels and force sensors detect load while proximity detects whether the door is open or closed. Here is how to fix the washer stuck on sensing:

  • Problem with water valve: The machine is not getting the required amount of water in such a case. Sometimes the problem is a blocked water inlet hose. To solve this problem, check if the water inlet actuator is on as it might shut off. Next, check for blockage with the water inlet piping and valves. You will need to replace them if they are damaged.
  • Motor shift actuator: A washing machine is a lot like a car. One motor runs both the washing and drying drum. The actuator is what shifts the transmission from wash to dry. If the actuator fails, the control board will keep trying to fix the problem while displaying sensing. This problem requires a trained technician.
  • Control board malfunction: All the sensors relay information to the control board, acting as the brain. This problem can be caused by faulty wiring or corrupted software. A malfunction means the control board is unable to detect feedback from the sensors. It may be stuck in a loop trying to solve the problem. The only solution is to replace the control board.

Washing Machine Sensing Light On or Flashing

Washing machine knob

It is normal for the sensing light to be on when starting a cycle. It simply means the machine is getting information, such as load size and water levels. However, flashing a sensing light is never a good thing. It is a warning light that a component has malfunctioned. The main culprits are the drain and spin features.

Check if there is blockage with the drain valve and pipes. There could be a twist preventing water supply or drainage. To be sure of the exact cause, check the error code. These codes are available when you go into diagnostics mode. Failed parts will have to be replaced by a professional.

Washing Machine Won’t Spin

Washing machine glass door spin cycle

Most washing machines remove dirt from laundry through spinning. It is also the same movement that helps remove water and helps in drying. However, sometimes the machine fails to spin due to mechanical or electrical problems.

  • Drain pipe blockage: The first thing that could cause this issue is the blockage of the drain pipe. Check the hose and valves and remove any clogs.
  • Unbalanced drum: If the drum is not well centered, it can get stuck when spinning. This mainly occurs when you overload the washer. Try to balance your load in each cycle. You should also ensure the machine is not tilting to one side.
  • Worn motor brushes: It is these brushes that supply power to the motor. In this case, you must purchase a new set of brushes and have them replaced. Unless it’s a setting issue, never attempt to repair your washing machine. It could make things worse.

Washing Machine Keeps Repeating Spin Cycles

Inside of a washing machine with clothes

Washing machines clean clothes by taking the load through the fill, spin, rinse, and drain cycles. Each cycle performs a specific task. The spin cycle removes any excess water by air drying. As the washed laundry spins, water is expelled by centrifugal force.

Repeating or getting stuck on the spin cycle can cause several issues. There could be a problem with the door latch mechanism, preventing it from opening. The other possibility is poor draining. Finally, it could be a broken timer. The door latch and broken timers can only be fixed by taking them apart and reinstalling them correctly.

Washing Machine Spin Light Flashing/On

Hand turning washing machine knob

The spin light is supposed to light up during a spinning cycle. It just shows you what cycle you are on. However, a flashing light is not good. Although several faults can cause it, improper loading is usually the main culprit. The load is either imbalanced or excess.

This problem can be fixed by balancing your load. Don’t put very few items or too many at once. To avoid future complications, ensure your washer is on level ground. Flashing lights can also be caused by loose wiring. It could be a loose capacitor that keeps turning on and off. Get a technician for this kind of repair.

Washing Machine Won’t Drain

Washing machine outlet box

It is crucial to drain water after every cycle. The hose does drain at the back of the washer. Failure to drain could mean several things. For one, the draining hose could be blocked. Other possibilities are a broken lid, water pump, or pressure sensor.

Clogging is the easiest problem to solve. Inspect the draining hose and unclog it with some vinegar. However, issues with water pumps and water level sensors require an experienced technician. You can try gently depressing the top of the lid for top-loading washers. If this doesn’t work, you might have to replace the lid switch assembly.

Washing Machine Keeps Repeating Drain Cycle/Stuck on Drain

A woman sticking her head inside a washing machine

A washing machine that is stuck on drain mode cannot fill up with water. Now there are a few possible culprits for this issue. At the top of the list is a faulty thermostat. The washer could be getting a false overheating reading. The other possible reason for these repeated draining cycles is a defective drain pump.

The first course of action is to check the drain pump. Something could be stuck around it, forcing it open. The drain pump will have to be tested independently with a multimeter. Do the same for the thermistor until you isolate the problem. Lastly, reposition the drain outlet hook, usually at the bottom of the washer. It should never be lower than the water in the tub.

Washing Machine Drain Light Flashing

A hand pressing a button on a washing machine

A flashing drain light is a sign of a malfunction with the draining features. The lights mostly flash when the washer has trouble draining. The root cause is usually a blockage. However, flashing draining lights could be a wiring issue. The solution for this problem is unclogging the blockage. The light should stop once the draining pump is functioning again.

Washing Machine Won’t Rinse

Woman reaching into a washing machine to pull out clothes

The rinse cycle and wash cycles are not that different. During rinsing, the soapy water used during washing is drained and is replaced by clean water. This step cleans the laundry further and prepares them for drying. There are numerous reasons why a washer may fail to rinse. You can tell by the detergent residue left on the laundry.

Common causes include damaged control board, clogged drain pipe, and excess detergents. The issue can be remedied by unclogging the drains, ensuring the two drain hoses are open. However, fixing the control board requires a little more expertise. It is better left to a technician.

Washing Machine Stuck on Rinse

A view through a glass door of a washing machine in the spin cycle

Rinsing requires draining of the soapy water. The pressure sensors detect a reduction in water levels and refill the hub. However, if the draining pump malfunctions, the soapy water cannot be expelled. As a result, the washing machine will keep trying to expel the soapy water with little success. It will get stuck on rinse and keep repeating the rinse cycle until you intervene.

Other possible causes include a broken timer, faulty wiring, and issues with the water faucets. The most viable solution is to isolate the problem by obtaining the error code. If it’s the drainage pump or timer, you may need to get them replaced. But simpler issues, like clogged filters, can be easily fixed by unclogging. Ensure to unplug the machine before attempting any repair.

Washing Machine Rinse Light Flashing/On

Front view of washing machine doing laundry

In most models, it is normal for the rinsing lights to come on during the rinsing cycle. The light indicates what mode is on, also known as a “status light.” However, flashing is never good news. It’s the machine’s way of telling you that something has gone wrong. The two main culprits for this issue are either an electrical malfunction or a damaged timer.

If the machine stops mid-rinse, try switching to another mode like a drain. If you hear the drum moving, it means the motor is okay. If you continue getting an error, try pressing the pressure switch, especially on top mounts. If you cannot cancel or switch to another mode, then it’s a wiring issue. Refer to the solutions for fixing a machine that won’t rinse.

Washing Machine Won’t Fill With Water

Washing machine filling with water

Washing machines need a water supply for most of the cycles. The only step where water is not required is during spinning. Usually, the software determines the required amount of water, depending on the load. Here are the common reasons why your washer won’t fill with water and how to fix each:

  • Clogged water inlet hoses: Water is supplied to the machine using a hose connected to your external plumbing. If the hose is clogged or kinked, then the water supply may be limited or cut off. First, ensure that the faucets are turned on before you panic. If everything is still not working, inspect the hoses and screens for any sediments or clogs. You can use vinegar to soften any clogs.
  • Damaged water inlet valve: The control lets water into the hub and cuts it off. The electronic control board controls the opening and closing of the valve. The feedback from the pressure, temperature, and load help determine the amount of water needed. Repairing a damaged control valve requires removing the rear panel. Ensure the washer is unplugged first and test the valve separately. If it’s shot, a replacement will be needed.
  • Lid switch: In some models, the lid is rigged with a proximity sensor. It is a safety feature meant to prevent the hub from filling with water while the lid is open. The lid switch is usually on the top panel on most top-loaders. Try gently pressing the top while the washer is on and listen for changes. If this doesn’t work, the lid switch must be removed and examined.
  • Pressure switch: The pressure switch is what detects the water levels and regulates the valve. A problem with the pressure switch can prevent the inlet valve from opening during a fill cycle. The pressure switch is usually under the control panel. Unplug the washer and test it for continuity. It is safer to hire a technician for this problem.
  • Timer and the control board: The timer sends electrical signals to the control board, opening and closing the inlet valves. Fixing this problem requires the ability to read electronic schematics. You will have to remove most of the part on the washer cabinet to reach the timer. Enlist the help of a service technician.

Washing Machine Keeps Repeating Fill Cycle/Stuck on Fill

Washing machine going through a wash cycle

A washer that can’t fill with water is just as bad as one that keeps filling. A faulty water intake valve almost always causes this issue. It could be a mechanical or a wiring problem. The former implies the valve is damaged. Try unplugging the washer. If it keeps filling, you will need a new intake valve.

However, if the cycle stops after unplugging, there is a problem with the water level switch. A faulty water pressure switch means the washer can’t tell when the tub has enough water. Fixing this problem requires removing the valve and testing it. Service technicians should only attempt such repairs.

Washing Machine Fill Light Flashing/On

Woman adjust washing machine settings

A flashing fill light means the washer is in trouble with filling. This light flashes in two scenarios. The washer could be stuck on the filling cycle or is unable to fill the hub. You won’t need the lights to know there is a problem if the washer keeps filling. The solutions provided in the previous two sections will help you fix these problems.

Washing Machine Won’t Turn On

Finger pressing a power button

Turning on your washer seems like a straightforward process, but it can be problematic. Fortunately, the problem is usually something that you can fix at home. The most common reasons for this issue are faulty power supply, overloading, and using excess detergents. Before you throw in the towel, troubleshoot the following components:

Power Supply

The first place you should look at is the power supply. This list includes the socket, the plug, the cables, and the switch. If any of these parts are faulty, your washer won’t run. Try plugging something else in the same socket and see if it works. Next, inspect the plug and the power cable for any damage. Only then can you turn your attention to the washer.

Door and lid switches

For safety reasons, washing machines can start while the door or lid is open. Actuators are connected to the lid and doors that cut power to the motor when open. For front-loaders, the switch is usually on the door frame. However, top-loaders have the switch on the top panel. Ensure the door is locked properly. If it fails, get the control checked and replaced by a pro.

Start and timer knobs

A set of knobs operates washing machines. You start a cycle by turning the start and timer knobs. However, the knobs get damaged over time due to wear and tear. As a result, it fails to connect with the shaft beneath. You can tell there is a problem if the knob seems loose or turns freely without clicks. The solution is to remove the knobs and check the connection below.

Driver motor

Electric motors drive modern washing machines, turning the hub at high speed during washing, rinsing, or drying. A problem with the motor means none of these features can work. Listen for any humming sounds from the motor. To isolate the problem, remove the belts and any coupling and try running the motor with no load. If it runs, the problem is in transmission. Otherwise, you will need to replace the motor.

Washing Machine Won’t Turn Off

Washing machine settings

A washing machine that won’t turn off presents several challenges. For one, it can drive your bills through the roof. The second problem is you will have to babysit it whenever you are doing laundry. Usually, such a washer keeps running even after going through all the cycles. In some cases, the washer just tumbles slowly after the last cycle but never stops.

Start by stopping it. Some washers have a rest button, and others can be reset by pressing a combination of buttons simultaneously. Check your washer manual on resetting. If this doesn’t work, unplug the washer. Unplugging resets some washer models. If this doesn’t work, then the control board is stuck on a loop. Get help from a service technician.

Washing Machine Door Won’t Unlock/Open

Hands trying to open washing machine door

Both front and top-loading washers have interlock systems. This feature prevents the washer from opening while it is running. But once the cycle is complete, the door should unlock and open easily. The mechanism consists of a lock, switches, and solenoids. Most modern washers come with a manual release to unlock the lid or door.

If this option is not available, you will have to take a closer look. Unplug the washer since you will be exposing the inner components. For front-loading washers, inspect the door strikes and latch found on the door frame. If you notice wear, tear, or cracks, you’ll need replacements. For top-loaders, remove the lid and look around for damage to the hinge or pins.

Another possible reason for a jammed door is a faulty pressure switch. As earlier mentioned, doors won’t open as long as the motor is running. Unfortunately, some washer models don’t reset to empty after completing the cycle. Unplugging the machine can solve this problem and let it cool for a few minutes.

Washing Machine Door Won’t Close/Lock

Open door of washing machine

After loading your laundry, you should shut the door or lid before starting a cycle. The inbuilt safety feature won’t allow the washer to start with an open door. It can be a problem if you have a faulty door. The troubleshooting should begin with the locking assembly.

The locking mechanism may have sustained mechanical damage such as wear and tear. In such a case, the only solution is replacing it. Alternatively, the lock may not be getting power.

You can be sure after testing it with a multimeter. Consider replacing the control board if the lock, latch, and switch assembly are all okay. However, this is rarely necessary for locking problems.

Washing Machine Making Loud Noise/Squealing

Top load washing machine lid being opened

Washing machines are naturally noisy due to the vibrations of the rotating motor. However, this sound is usually uniform and bearable. Loud noise and squealing signifies a problem and should never be ignored. The sound is usually the loudest during the spin cycle. Here are the possible causes and how to fix them:

Defective tub bearing

The bearing helps reduce friction and noise during operation. Tub bearings are found in the middle of the outer tub. When the washer spins, the tub’s bearing allows it to move freely and smoothly. Worn out bearing produces squealing noises that get worse with time. The only remedy is replacing the bearing and reapplying grease. This is a job for qualified service technicians.

Worn-out drive belts

Most washing machine components, like pumps and tubs, are connected to the motor via drive belts. This system of pulleys gets worn out, bent, or torn due to friction. A worn drive belt lacks grip and sometimes slips and slides. It can make the washer noisy when spinning. To reduce the noise, replace the worn drive belts with a newer and stronger one.

Damaged clutch assembly

The clutch assembly transmits the power to the inner tub. It is directly connected to the shaft of the motor. Overloading your washer puts a lot of force on these components. Excess load accelerates the wear and tear on the clutch. In addition to the loud noise, the worn clutch makes the washer spin slower, resulting in wet clothes. The entire assembly needs replacement to restore full functionality.

Motor coupling failure

This is a safety feature designed to prevent overloading. The motor coupling disconnects from the shaft if the laundry load is excess. It prevents the washer from spinning. However, it can fail and cause damage to the transmission system. You can solve this problem by replacing the coupling.

Washing Machine Keeps Adding Time

Washing machine timer display

Washing machines are not able to detect when clothes are clean. They rely on timers to determine when to stop a particular cycle. Here are the reasons why the washer keeps adding time and how to fix it:

Uneven load

If you load one side of the washer with more laundry, the load becomes unbalanced. The washer will take a few extra minutes trying to redistribute the load. It causes your cycles to take longer than necessary. To fix this problem, ensure the laundry is distributed evenly around the center.

Faulty water level switch

This switch controls the water inlet valves and, by extension, the timers. A damaged water level switch makes it impossible for the program to know how much water is left in the drum after a cycle. The washer can mistakenly extend the cycles thinking there is more water. To fix this problem, find the switch and inspect it for damage. The best thing to do is to replace it with a new one.

Worn suspension rods

Suspension rods help keep the washer balanced during operation. It cancels out the vibration caused by the spinning motor. Excessive vibrations often result in repeating cycles. To fix this problem, unplug the washer and lay it down. If the suspensions are broken, replace them with new ones.

Sensor malfunction

Washing machines rely on several sensors to know what to do next. The essential sensors detect temperature, pressure, and vibration. A faulty sensor gives the washer wrong information. The program then mistakenly restarts a cycle to avert perceived danger. Sensor malfunctions can be fixed by replacing the damaged parts.

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