Few homeowners relish the thought of schlepping loads of dirty clothes to the laundromat, and even fewer want to go back to the days of scrubbing out stains at the river’s edge. So when problems arise with your washing machine, ignoring them is not an option.
Washing machines are becoming more sophisticated, and the new technology presents a few new opportunities for things to go wrong. But for the most part, washing machines are reliable and long-lasting appliances when properly maintained. Still, there are some trouble spots that are fairly common, several of which can be fixed by the average homeowner.
Wash Cycle Won’t Start
Out of all the things that can go wrong with your washing machine, it doesn’t get much worse than when the appliance is completely unresponsive. No matter how many knobs you turn or buttons you push, nothing happens. In this instance, there’s one thing you should do immediately: verify that the washing machine is plugged in.
It’s not a crazy thought -- washing machines can rattle and vibrate, causing electrical plugs to gradually slip loose from their outlets. And it’s often the case that the machine itself blocks the view of the plug, so it might not be obvious that the power is disconnected.
The next place to check is your breaker box. If the washing machine’s circuit breaker was tripped, flip it back on, but keep an eye on your washer to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If it does, you may have an electrical issue -- consider calling an electrician.
Yet another potential cause is an interruption in the water supply, caused by something like a clogged water line, a closed water valve leading to your washer or a complete water shutoff to your home. The problem could even be a malfunction of the lid switch, which lets the washer know that the lid is closed.
If your investigation doesn’t turn up any leads, or if your machine is still covered under warranty, the next step is to reach out to a repair professional.
Drum Won’t Spin
If your washer appears to be operational but the drum is stuck at a standstill, the problem may be with the belt that turns the drum. The belt can slip out of its grooves or even break after years of use.
To check this, refer to the documentation for your exact model to learn how to gain access to the outside of the drum. This is often a simple matter of removing a panel that requires no more than a screwdriver. Once you can verify whether the belt is loose or broken, you can decide whether to call in a pro or to replace the belt yourself.
Water Won’t Drain
When water won’t drain from the drum at the end of a cycle, it often means that there’s an obstruction somewhere in the drain line. Anything you accidentally leave in a pocket and send through the wash is a potential clog -- even something as small as a coin.
If you want to check your drain line, begin by completely disconnecting the washing machine from its power source. Be prepared with towels and a bucket, as there may be standing water in the line. Disconnect the line both from the machine and any wastewater outlet to which it might be connected. Try looking through the hose to spot any clogs, and dislodge any you find by blowing air through the hose with a compressor or flushing it out with a high-pressure hose.
Not every washing machine problem calls for a DIY fix, so establish a relationship with an appliance repair professional you can trust. And if the problem can be traced back to your household plumbing, be sure to turn to your experienced local plumbers.