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Plumbing Repair 101: Why Won’t My Washing Machine Work?

There are all sorts of reasons your washing machine is not working. To determine the culprit and whether your washing machine needs plumbing repair service, you need to be able to do some basic troubleshooting on your own. Doing some of these tests and checks is not that difficult, and most do not require any tools or having to move the washer!

If you feel these tests and checks are beyond your abilities, don’t worry. Your plumbing repair technician will gladly do them for you when you schedule a washing machine repair service.

Washing Machine Basics

working man plumber repairs  washing machine in laundry

All washing machines, whether you have a top-load, front-load, or a washer and dryer combo, perform the same general wash functions during a wash cycle:

  • Fill with Water
  • Wash
  • Drain
  • Spin
  • Fill with Water
  • Rinse
  • Drain
  • Spin

There may be some other functions like the pre-wash cycle or a soak cycle, depending on the cycle selected. Problems can occur before, during, or after the wash cycle. If you notice a problem, you will want to call and schedule washing machine plumbing services. You should never ignore it, as it can lead to bigger and more costly problems.

The Washing Machine Has No Power

Power problems are easy to troubleshoot. First, check to make sure the washing machine is plugged into the outlet. If it is, unplug it and plug it back in. If there is still no power and you have a GFCI outlet—the one with the built-in breaker switch—make sure the switch does not need resetting.

If there is still no power, go to your breaker box and check the breaker for the washing machine. Even if it is not blown, reset it and then go check to see if the washer has power. If it still doesn’t, then that could mean the power cord is not connected correctly to the machine, the power cord is bad, or there is no power coming from the outlet.

You could plug a radio or other device into the outlet to see if the outlet is working, to help narrow it down further. If the outlet is not working, then call your electrician. If the outlet is working, call your washer and dryer plumbing technician for help.

The Washing Machine Has Power but Doesn’t Fill with Water

There are a few different problems that could cause the washer to not fill with water. Some models require the lid to be closed before the water will start filling. Front-load models will require the door to lock before it will fill with water.

Close the lid or make sure the door is closed tightly. If the washer still won’t fill, you could have a faulty lid switch or door-locking switch that needs to be replaced.

Another reason the washer won’t fill with water is if the water intake lines are kinked or clogged. Check for kinks in the hoses. If there are none, if you are using cold water, try the hot water setting to see if water fills or vice versa. If water fills for hot or cold water, the other line is clogged and the hose needs to be replaced.

  • Washing Machine Supply Hose Tip: Replace your washing machine supply line hoses every five years to avoid them bursting and exploding during a wash cycle and flooding your laundry room.

The Washing Machine Fills with Water and Stops

If the washing machine is filling with water and stops, it could mean several different things. The washing machine’s “brain” could need replacing. The “brain” is the electronic and computer board that tells the washing machine what to do next. If it is damaged, it can prevent the machine from going beyond the fill function.

To determine if it is the “brain” or something else, put the washer on the “Drain and Spin” cycle. If the water pumps out and the washer spins, it means the “brain” is working. Then the problem is something to do with the agitator on the machine.

The belt could also be just loose enough that it is not able to turn the drum because it is too heavy with the clothes and water and needs to be tightened. If the water drains but it does not spin, then the problem could be the washing machine’s motor needs to be replaced or the belt is broken or needs to be tightened.

Female hand wash a pink T-shirt in a basin

The Washing Machine Pumps Water In but Never Fills

This plumbing problem occurs when the drain hose is not installed correctly. The drain hose needs to be above a certain height for water to remain in the machine. If it has come out of the drain trap and is lying on the floor, you will quickly discover that water runs out just as fast as it is pumping into the machine—because your laundry room floor will flood.

The Washing Machine Will Not Drain

If the washing machine fills and washes okay, but it won’t drain, it could be caused by a few different problems. You need to listen to see if you can hear the drain pump kick on or not. If you do not hear the pump turn on, then the drain pump may need replacing.

If the drain pump turns on but water isn’t coming out the drain hose, there is a clog in the drain hose. You will probably want to call your plumber for help, as you will need to get the water out of the machine without making a huge mess.

With top-loading machines, you could get most of it out one bucket at a time. However, with front-loaders, it is more difficult. The water is in the bottom part of the machine. If the drain hose is clogged, you will need to remove the hose and quickly attach another.

If the drain pump is not working, and there is not a clog, you can drain the water. Start by shutting off the washer and unplugging it from the wall. Take the drain hose and lower it to floor level and drain the water into a bucket. Raise the hose back up to stop the water from draining out onto the floor. Repeat this process until all the water is drained out of the machine.

The Washing Machine Drains but Water Is Coming Out the Drain Line

Dirt, debris, hair, and lint all get pumped out of the drain hose and down the drain line. Over time, these things can start to build up inside the drain line and create a drain clog. If water is back-flowing up the drain line and going back into the washing machine or flooding the laundry room, call your plumber for drain cleaning service.

  • Tip to Avoid Clogged Drain Lines: Have your plumber install a filter on the drain hose. The filter will catch those things that clog the drain line.

The Washing Machine Will Not Spin

If all of the other wash cycle functions work, except the spin function, the problem could be caused by a faulty motor. Motors have different speeds that operate the belt and turn the wash drum. During the spin function, the motor runs at a faster speed to turn the drum very fast.

The belt could also be slipping or be loose if the drum turns slowly but never goes into high-speed spinning. Yet another problem is if there is a kink in the drain hose. The kink could prevent all the water from draining out of the washing machine and being left in the clothes.

The Washing Machine Shakes, Rattles, and Rolls

This problem often means the washing machine is not balanced correctly. Take a level and make sure the machine is level from left-to-right and front-to-back. The bubble in the level should be in the middle.

An easy way to check if the machine is not leveled is to see if you can tip it from side to side. If it tilts, it is not balanced. You will need to adjust the feet on the machine to get it balanced unless you have a self-balancing model. Then you just need to lift it up and place it back down on the floor.

Water Is Coming Out the Door During the Wash Cycle

soap coming out from broken washing machine

Another type of washing machine problem you can experience with front-loading machines is water leaking out from around the door during the wash cycle. This problem can occur if the door seal is bad and needs replacing. It can also occur if the door was not shut correctly and part of the seal is kinked or pinched.

Troubleshooting the source of washing machine problems starts by doing some simple tests yourself, which can better help your plumber fix them faster when you call for washing machine plumbing services.

To schedule service on your washing machine in San Antonio, New Braunfels, Temple, and the Austin Metro Area, please feel free to call Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 512-246-5400 today! We also have 24-hour emergency plumber technicians on call should you have a washing machine or another plumbing repair emergency.

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