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Before you can determine what is wrong with your machine you'll need to know where in the wash cycle it has stopped

Any good Engineer has an idea on what is wrong with an appliance even before they look at it, just by the information they are given (providing the information is correct). The art is to know what a machine is supposed to be doing at a given time or what it is not doing. So for those who do not know, this is roughly how a washing machine works:
The washing machine cycle is

  • Fills with water:Fill Valve/s operate (usually mixed fill depending on the program selected, but some newer machines are cold fill only) Some machines have a short pump out before they fill
  • Drum agitation: Motor runs (to mix the powder and water, it also serves to let the washing absorb some of the water so it can top up before going into the heat cycle).

  • Heat: Heater comes on (at this point the drum is normally static until the temperature reaches a set level, then it will agitate for a few tumbles just to mix the water and powder again)

  • Wash: Motor runs (when the correct temperature is reached the drum will agitate at whatever speed the wash program dictates, Fast for cotton or slow for woollens. And it will rotate so many tumbles in one direction then so many in the reverse direction.)

  • Pump out: Pump comes on (this empties the wash water out ready for the rinses to start and it is normally accompanied by a short spin)

  • Fills with cold water: Cold valve operates (this is the start of the rinses, and the program selected will determine how many rinses actually take place. At this point the water level in the drum may differ from that of the wash; this once again depends on the wash program selected)

  • Drum agitation: Motor runs (to rinse the washing)

  • Pump out: Pump comes on (depending on the program selected these last 3 stages may occur a number of times. If your machine is equipped with a fabric conditioner facility, this will be implemented after the last main rinse)

  • Spin: Motor goes into spin and pump comes on(the drum now starts to gather speed and will increment over a number of phases until it reaches its maximum speed for the selected program.
    If your machine has a built in out of balance detection system and the load inside the tub is very uneven then it may not reach its final spin speed)

       

      If your machine has an LCD display you may be assisted with fault detection by error codes being displayed in which case try our ( error code link)

       

    Here are a just a few points to check out if any of the previously listed actions are interrupted. This is not a comprehensive list of every possible fault but it will give you a starting point of where to look. Other fault solutions are here(Common faults):


    If the drum does not start to fill with water when the machine is switched on it could be for any of the following reasons:-


    There is no power to the machine: Check the door is closed, the door may be shut but the interlock may not have engaged (give it an extra push). Check the fuse has not blown and that there is power from the socket.( Plug in another appliance you know is working such as a vacuum cleaner), Don't be fooled that if there is a power on neon on the machine and it's on then you do have power, because it may only be up to the neon and not necessarily through to the door switch/interlock


    Check the water taps are on and there are no kinks in the inlet hoses. If they are fine then turn the taps off and unscrew the end of the inlet hose attached to the machine, hold the detached end over a bowl or bucket and turn the tap on slowly, if water comes out the supply is OK, try this with both hoses (if you have hot and cold fill)


    While you have the hose/s off, pull the nylon mesh filter out of the fill valve by gripping the small central tab on it with a pair of pliers, and clean it under running water (it could be blocked )


    Check the solenoid valve: This video shows how they work(solenoid valve): you will need to remove the top of the machine, there are generally two screws holding it on and they could be at the back or at the side of the lid which would then need to be slide off. You shouldn't have any trouble finding the valves inside the machine because they will be where you removed the hoses from. You can normally hear a faint humming noise coming from the solenoids when they are energized (but not always). You will need a test meter to check the solenoids and the readings across both terminals will only be brief but as long as you get a reading that should be fine. Remove the wiring plug from the valve before testing or you will get a false reading.


    Another reason the valves may not have energized is if the pressure switch has not reset but in this instance the drum would start turning because the machine would think it has enough water in it already so it would go straight into the wash cycle, this could be potentially dangerous if not noticed because in some cases the heater would come on whilst the drum still had no water in it.


    This pressure switch problem is caused in most cases by a blocked pressure chamber (pressure chamber video) and without too much work and no out lay this problem can be solved.


    Another possible reason for the fault could lay with the door switch that may need to be removed for testing, which would also require a test meter but in some instances the switch may only energize when a 240 volt current passes through it. This type of switch is not so easy to test because the contacts are not made until it has power to it, so just because there is no reading on your meter when you test it this does not mean the switch is definitely at fault, unlike the one in this video (interlock replacement video)The video shown here is of an interlock which incorporates a micro switch and a pressure diaphragm that is connected to the pressure chamber, so a blocked chamber would also affect the interlock which would prevent the door being opened (this is covered a bit further on)


    If all the above possibilities checked out you could be looking for an electrical fault leading back to the module or timer, so unless you are very confident you would be advised to call in an engineer at this point

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    If there is no drum action after the machine has finished filling then it could possibly be any of the following:-


    The belt may have snapped or come off the pulley, the motor brushes could be worn down, the motor may be burnt out, there could be a loose or broken wire connecting to the motor or module. In this case if a wire has broken but is not visible to the naked eye you will need to do a continuity test with a meter(continuity link) link or there could be a fault on the module or timer. This last option would possibly require an engineer unless the damage to the timer or module is obvious. These components are usually very expensive so unless you are certain that's where the fault is don't be tempted to buy a new one. With a blown module where you can see a track has burnt out, think first! what made the track blow?

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    If the heater doesn't come on


    In a majority of cases the machine won't advance through the program and will just stay there indefinitely, but on some of the newer models the module is programmed that after a given time laps it will continue on as though there is no fault, in this case you may not realise there is a problem, but the wash time may be extended or shortened (depending on the program selected)and the first thing you will notice is the washing will probably not be as clean as usual.
    This fault could be a blown heater or thermistor/thermostat (replace heater video), another possible solution is a wiring fault or the module/timer could also be the cause. With a wiring fault you may need to do a continuity test(continuity link)

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    No wash action


    If the machine does not go into the wash cycle it's usually the motor at fault so you would normally notice this at the point where the drum action should have started during the fill process, in which case look at all the possible causes as previously mentioned, if however the motor goes into spin instead of tumbling it would be the (tacho)on the rear of the motor or an associated wiring fault.

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    The water has not been pumped out and the machine will not go into spin although it tries.


    If the drum is full of water or even partially full then it could be either a blockage or a pump fault, the easiest way to determine which, is to lower the outlet hose into a bowl or bucket, if it's connected to the rear of the machine by a bracket or clip then release it so it lays flat along the ground. If water flows freely from the hose into the bowl/bucket you will probably have a faulty or defective pump, in this case check the wiring first before removing the pump.

    Should your outlet hose not be sited in a stand pipe but be attached to a plumbing kit that's connected to a plastic waste pipe or to a connection incorporated in the u-bend under the sink then it would be wise to check these for possible blockages or restrictions before proceeding.

    With a faulty pump (rear pump)you will need to empty the machine by just letting it drain out via the outlet hose before attempting to remove the pump.(front pump) When the machine is empty tilt it (away from the pump) enough to get a shallow bowl or deep tray under it so when you remove the pump hoses any remaining water will go into the bowl rather than over the floor. A common fault with pumps is a foreign item getting into the housing and jamming the impellor, this could be a cotton bud, a hair clip etc. Elastic bands are harder to get out because they wrap themselves around the impellor and have to be unwrapped rather that just pulled free. If there are no foreign objects in the housing then the pump windings may be faulty, you can usually tell by the smell of burning .

    With a blockage the procedure is slightly different, you'll still need to empty the drum of water but this is more labour intensive than just letting the water run out. Tilt the machine backwards so the water level is bellow the bottom of the door and try to open it, if it doesn't open then it would probably be the pressure switch which is holding it locked, in that case you will need to remove the top of the machine, locate the pressure switch and pull the hose off, this will reset the switch and free the interlock.(This locked door scenario can also happen if the pressure chamber gets blocked)(pressure chamber)Now go back to step one, tilt the machine and open the door, at this point you will have to empty the water with a jug or sponge or both, remove as much water as possible (the less water in the drum the less water will flood out when the sump hose is removed).

    For machines with the pump at the front just slide a bowl under the sump and remove it, for machines with the pump at the rear tilt the appliance in the opposite direction so the pump is off the ground before sliding a bowl under. There may be an internal filter which would need cleaning out or the blockage could be further along and closer to the pump itself.

    It is possible that the outlet hose could be blocked in which case you would need to remove it and bang it against the floor (not very scientific but it works ) before hosing it through with running water.

    These are the main features of a washing machine cycle

    water in, heat, agitate, water out, spin

    Although this is not a comprehensive list of faults or cures if you tackle the problem logically you may be surprised how un-technical the majority of faults really are.