Common Washing Machine Faults 


  • Fill hoses not tight at either water supply or at the washing machine fill valve.
  • Restriction in drain pipe causing pumped out soapy water to suds back over stand pipe where drain hose goes in. Verify by filling washing machine tub with water only (no soap) and advance timer to pump out washing machine. If no leaks from this test, problem is with the drain pipe or from using too much soap.
  • Tub water injection hose leaking. Most common in the Maytag washing machine. Water will gush out immediately when water enters the machine. Open front washing machine service panel and activate washing machine fill to verify.
  • Pump leaking. Most common on older GE/Hotpoints and direct drive Whirlpool/Kenmores. Verify by filling tub with water then advancing timer to pumpout washing machine while observing pump.
  • Tub leaking. Open washing machine service panel and fill tub with water. Look for signs of leakage all around tub, front and back. Maytags can leak from the tub center gasket, in which case both the seal and tub bearing should be replaced at the same time. Older belt-drive Whirlpool can develop rust holes in the tub which can be reliably repaired using the tub repair kit.
  • washing machine overfilling. Usually caused by a sediment-damaged water inlet fill valve. Valve cannot close itself when de-energized. Replace fill valve and install sediment filtration on household water supply. Most of the fill valves are 120v valves. The Maytag stack laundry with the electronic control uses a special 24vdc valve. All washing machine owners should install flood control on their washing machines.
  • Restricted water inlet valve flow. Unique to the older GE/Hotpoint washing machines. Low water flow will case the water from the valve's discharge hose to run back up the hose by capillary action and down to the floor.

No or Sluggish Spin

  • Defective lid switch. Gain access to lid switch and ohm test in open and closed position.
  • Lid plunger not making contact with lid switch. Most common the Whirlpool/Kenmore washing machines. Use a pen to manually depress the lid switch (with the lid up). If washing machine spins, replace or repair plunger.
  • Spin solenoid burned out or cut wires (older Whirlpool only). Ohm out solenoid (20-30 ohms). If OK, actuate solenoid with a test cord. Tug on wires supplying solenoid to ensure they are not cut.
  • Worn or broken belt drive belt. Look for excessive glazing on the sides of the belt or cracks in the power side of the belt. On Maytags, replace the belt set if they look glazed or shiny on the sides even thought the belts may look OK otherwise. Belts on other brands will be more obviously bad.
  • Bad timer contact. On older timers, it's sometimes possible to run an external jumper to replace the bad internal contacts. Usually, however, the entire timer must be replaced.

No Agitate

  • Worn drive belt.
  • Worn agitator dog cam assembly or drive spindle. Remove agitator and/or disassemble (if the agitator is dual action) and inspect for wear debris and worn spindles.
  • Bad internal timer contact. Locate bad contact and run external jumper or replace timer.
  • Worn wig-wag plunger/lifter or transmission mode lever . Observe the action of the agitate solenoid when the machine is in the agitation part of the cycle. If the plunger/lifter slips off the transmission mode lever, replace either the plunger/lifter or the mode lever, as appropriate.
  • Open lid switch. Maytags only. Other brands will still agitate with a bad lid switch.
  • Pressure switch not sensing water level and switching from fill to agitate cycle. Check for pinched air tube, cracked or leaking air tube connection at the tub. Run continuity and function test on pressure switch.

No Agitate or Spin

  • Broken or worn drive belts.
  • Worn direct drive coupler
  • Defective motor. Install test cord on motor and energize. Alternative test: remove drive belt from motor pulley (or remove motor from direct drive coupler and energize spin cycle. If motor hums then clicks off, motor is bad.
  • No power at washing machine electrical outlet. Test for AC.

No Pump out

  • Defective pump. For mechanical pumps, remove belt from pump pulley and turn pump pulley by hand in both directions. Pulley should turn freely. If not, replace pump. For electric pumps (new front-access GE washing machines), fill tub with water and energize the spin cycle. Pull drain hose and watch discharge stream. If stream fluctuates or is meager, replace electric pump.
  • Worn drive belt. In this case, washing machine will not spin either (or will have a sluggish spin). See "No or Sluggish Spin". 
  • Clogged drain hose. Pull drain hose and watch discharge stream. A good discharge stream will have the same diameter as the hose itself. If less than this, check for obstructions in the drain hose.

Excessive Vibration or Shaking During Spin

  • washing machine not leveled properly. Check for play along the diagonal corners of the washing machine cabinet by applying downward pressure. If there is any play at all, the washing machine will shake during spin and the legs must be leveled.
  • washing machine located on a weakened wood floor. Place reinforcing pad on floor under washing machine.
  • Worn damper pads (Maytag top loaders) or snubber pads (Whirlpool/Kenmore direct-drive machines).

Clothes Too Wet at End of Cycle

  • washing machine not spinning (although it still pumps out). Verify spin visually and, if appropriate, troubleshoot as a no spin complaint.

Spots on Clothes

  • Chemical reaction between fabric softener and detergent. Test by handwashing a spotted garment in warm soapy water. If the spots come off, they were caused by fabric softener/detergent interaction.
  • Transmission oil leaked back into the tub. Test by applying solvent to a section of a spotted garment. If the spots come off only with solvent but not with soap and water, then they are oil spots. If the washing machine is a GE/Hotpoint, transmission will need to be replaced.

Clothes Torn or Ripped

  • Use of too much bleach or bleach not getting distributed evenly.
  • Clothes getting caught under agitator. Feel under bottom of agitator for rough spots that can catch clothing.
  • Using too little water for the load size.

Clothes Still Soapy at End of Cycle

  • Cold water valve clogged with sediment or defective (rinse cycle uses cold water only). See "No Cold Water" below.
  • Timer contact defective. Test valve circuit to verify if timer is energizing valve during rinse.

No Cold Water

  • Sediment has gotten into the valve from the household water supply and is obstructing flow. If sediment can be cleared from valve without removing protective screen, then do so but this is not recommended because valve integrity has probably been compromised once exposed to significant sediment. Do not remove protective screen because valve could get stuck open and cause a flood. It's always best practice to replace the valve anytime sediment has significantly accumulated at the valve.
  • Cold water hand valve at wall turned off.

Washing Machine Completely Dead

  • Test for  AC at washing machine electrical outlet.
  • Timer internal power circuit interrupted. Trace timer circuitry using continuity tests to determine if an internal set of timer contacts are broken. Sometimes it's possible to install an external jumper wire and complete the circuit. Other times, the entire timer must be replaced.
  • Washing machine off-balance switch tripped during imbalanced spin condition. Open washing machine lid, redistribute the load and re-start the washing machine.
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