How to Deal with Common Clothes Washer Problems

We’ve come a long way since the women-folk used to beat the clothing on the rocks down by the riverside. Not only have they done away with that, now the clothes are put in the machine, detergent is added, and then 30 minutes later, clothes are clean and spun almost dry. And neither rock nor river is in sight.

Even though it’s a fairly complicated appliance, there are many problems you can take care of. Here are the most common:

Nothing happens – By now you know to make sure there is power. Check plug, cord, outlet, fuse, and circuit breaker. Also, there is a safety switch in the door. If it’s faulty, it’s usually because a wire is loose.

No water comes in – There are two hoses (hot and cold) that bring water in. Each has a screen to keep out mineral deposits. Turn off the faucets behind the washer and loosen the hoses where they enter the back of the unit. The screens can be cleaned with a small wire and by soaking in hot vinegar. The hoses are connected to the two inlet solenoid valves. The valves can be taken out and tested for continuity. If they are not functioning, it’s probably because of mineral deposits. Soak the parts in hot vinegar and use an old toothbrush to clean with. Turn the timer just a tad and see if the water starts coming in.

clothes washer How to Deal with Common Clothes Washer Problems

Motor hums, but machine doesn’t run – The washer is probably just overloaded.

Agitator isn’t agitating – This cycle is belt driven and has an agitator cam bar that is supposed to shift into the agitate gear. If the belt is stretched, or if the gear didn’t shift, you can replace the belt and lubricate the gears and cam bars. However, you must have the owner’s manual for your particular washer. One type has a belt that simply loops around the pump, the motor, and a pulley. With the hoses disconnected, and unit unplugged, you can remove the back plate, turn the unit on its side, and belt replacement is a snap. In fact, if the belt is in good shape but just loose, you can loosen the motor mounting bolt and push the motor to tighten the belt. Other models have a very complicated belt arrangement that involves repositioning some of the bracing to get the belt off.

Water doesn’t drain – The drain hose can be kinked, or the pump may be faulty. Check all the hoses and replace the pump if that’s the problem.

Water leaks under the appliance – First, remember that water and electricity don’t mix. In order to find out where the leak is, you have to move the unit away from the wall, remove the back cover, and stand in back on a wet floor. So, disconnect before you start the search.

Water backs up out of Standpipe – This is a plumbing problem. Lift the drain hose from the standpipe and put it in a bucket to catch the water in the hose. Then check to see if there is a blockage by running a snake down the standpipe. The reason the clog may show up here-even though it may be farther down the drain line-is because suds slow down the flow and the pump pushes more water out than a faucet would. There may also be a problem with a partially clogged vent stack.

No spin cycle – Although different gears are involved, the non-spinning problem is much like that of the agitator.

Washer vibrates badly – The washer is overloaded or not level. There are leveling feet that can easily be adjusted

Belt squeals – It may be loose and, if so, can be tightened as we’ve discussed above. You can also try an application of belt dressing, available at an auto supply store.

Clothes get damaged – This can be from overloading the unit. Damage can also be caused by too much bleach. Another suggestion is . . . zip up your fly! An open zipper can chew up clothes. There may also be a snag spot on the agitator or other surfaces inside. Put your hand inside an old nylon stocking and rub over all the surfaces. If you hit a snag, light sanding should take car of it.


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