What's Wrong With My Washer?

Washing Machine Troubleshooting Guide

Top loading washing machine with door open

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

Many people complain about washers that won't run, won't run properly, or seem to be damaging clothes. There are some things to check before you call a repairman. Many problems can be solved with just a few tools and little knowledge. Need help with your particular model? Find repair manuals and parts.

Washer Vibration

The possible causes of washer vibration included an unbalanced load of laundry, the washer may not be level, or the washer feet may not be locked or in contact with the floor.

  • Be sure the washer feet are in firm contact with the floor. Level or balance the washer and tighten the jam nuts so the legs and feet won't shift.
  • Check the floor for sagging. You may need to add a piece of plywood under your washer to keep it level.
  • Rearrange the load of laundry. Be sure to load the washer correctly to avoid shifting.

Leaking Water

Leaking water can happen due to simple issues or a major repair. Before you panic, the leak can happen because the washer is not level or loaded properly, the hoses are not attached tightly or the hose washers are worn or not inserted properly or drains are clogged.

  • Check the balance and make sure that the washer basket is not out of alignment causing water to splash out of the washer.
  • Check all hoses and tighten any connections. Be sure that hose washers are not cracked or broken and are seated properly in the hose.
  • Check water lines and faucets to ensure that they are not leaking.
  • Check to see that the washer is draining properly and that the drain hose is not clogged with lint, hair, or a wayward sock.

Weird Noises

Clicking, gurgling, or humming can be caused by objects caught in the washer, clogged drains, or internal sensors.

  • The clicking may be objects caught in the washer drain. Always check and empty pockets before washing. Close zippers and snaps and remove any unattached belts or embellishments.
  • If you hear unusually loud gurgling as the washer drains, it may indicate that the washer drain line is partially clogged. Take measures to remove the obstructions before disaster occurs!

Washer Won't Run or Fill With Water

Before you panic, there are several simple items you should check before calling a repairman. Every technician can tell you dozens of stories about a magical repair called "plug in the machine."

  • Check the water supply. Both hoses must be attached and both water inlet valves open. Be sure the hoses are kink-free and that there is nothing clogging the inlet valve screens.
  • Be sure that the power cord is plugged in well and ensure that there is power to the outlet. Check the circuit breakers to be sure that it is not tripped.
  • Clean the inside lid switch. Most washers must have the lid closed and the lid switch engaged to operate. Lint and dirt can cause the switch to jam and malfunction. Clean it by dipping a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and gently clean all the debris away.

Washer Won't Drain or Spin Correctly

Drainage problems can come from clogged hoses, improper loading of clothes, obstructions, or even too much detergent.

  • Even if you check pockets, something small can be overlooked. Coins, pens, or even small socks can get caught in the pump or between the basket and tub and slow or block draining.
  • If the washer is overloaded or loaded improperly, it can become unbalanced and will not allow the washer to spin correctly. Adjust and redistribute the wet laundry or remove some to allow the washer to finish spinning.
  • Check the drain hose for proper installation. The end of the drain hose should not be higher than 96 inches above the floor.
  • Remove the drain hose and check for clogs. Remove any residue before reattaching.
  • Do not use too much detergent. An overabundance of suds can slow the draining process and cause the washer to malfunction.

Automatic Dispensers Malfunctioning

You open the washer and the dispensers are still full of detergent or fabric softener. There can be easy solutions.

  • Always use the correct formula in designated dispensers. If the washer manual calls for liquid bleach—never use powder.
  • Every month, clean every dispenser by heating one cup of distilled white vinegar and adding it to the dispenser. Then, run the washer in a regular cycle. The vinegar will clean away any clogs or built-up residue.

Washer Odors

Washer odors can happen in both front-loading and top-loading machines. With just a bit of preventive maintenance, you can keep your washer and your laundry smelling clean.

  • Do not use too much detergent. Excessive suds leave dirty residue on washer parts and trap odors.
  • Clean your washer monthly, even if you don't feel it is needed, to prevent odor residue.
  • Check around washer for mold or mildew growth. You may have a problem with excessive moisture. This is both unpleasant and dangerous to your health and must be corrected.