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Domestic Disaster: what to do if your washing machine breaks down

At Loans 2 Go we have an occasional series of articles on Domestic Disasters. The articles explain what to do if some kind of disaster or emergency happens to you or your home. 

Previous Domestic Disasters articles have included:


In today’s article we look at what to do if your washing machine breaks down. Washing machines take a lot of wear and tear, so are one of the most common household appliances to break down. 

We will look at:

  • Common problems with washing machines.
  • How to fix problems with your washing machine.
  • When it’s time to call for help.
  • How to prevent problems with your washing machine.


Common problems with washing machines

Some of the most common problems with washing machines are:

  • Not starting.
  • Not draining.
  • Excessively noisy or vibrating.
  • Smelling bad.
  • Leaking.

We’ll take a brief look at each of these and explain what you can do to try and fix it.


How to fix problems with your washing machine

There are some washing machine problems that you may be able to fix, and others where you may need professional help. For each of the problems listed above, here are some things to try:


  • Washing machine not starting

So your machine is fully loaded and ready to go. You press the switch or turn the dial as usual . . . but nothing happens.

The obvious thing to check is that the machine is switched on at the wall. If the machine uses a removable plug, check that it is plugged in securely, and also test if the plug socket is working by plugging in a different appliance. If this doesn’t work, check your fuse box to see if it is a more general electrical issue rather than the washing machine itself.

Another thing to check is that the washing machine door is properly closed. Sometimes you may need an extra push to click it shut – which may mean that your door seal needs attention. 

If you try all these things without success, it may be time to call for help, especially if there is also an error code on the control panel that indicates a more serious issue.


  • Washing machine not draining

This is one of the most worrying problems you can have with a washing machine. Everything has been going fine, but towards the end of the cycle the washing machine stops and just sits there, full of water.

The first thing to do is to try turning everything off then on again, and reset the machine’s program to the drain cycle. This may overcome a temporary glitch.

But if this doesn’t work, you may need to drain the machine manually. If you can’t access the normal outlet hose, most front loading washing machines have a filter and emergency drain in one of the bottom corners. This can be opened and used to drain the machine – but make sure you have bowls and trays for it to drain into and cover your floor with towels to absorb any excess. 

In the process of doing this you may find that the filter has become blocked, for example with debris or a coin or button, which may have caused the problem in the first place. But if in doubt, call for help – see below.


  • Washing machine excessively noisy or vibrating

Many washing machines are a bit noisy anyway, but you can tell something is wrong if your machine becomes much noisier. Especially if there are also rattling noises or excessive vibrating.

The four most common causes of this are:

  • Your washing machine is overloaded, causing the drum to work harder, particularly on the spin cycle. Constant overloading of your machine can lead to damage to the motor or bearings.
  • An object – such as a coin – is trapped in between the outer tub and the drum. Make sure that you check pockets for items before loading the machine.
  • The bearings are becoming worn, leading to noise while rotating. They may need either oiling or replacing.
  • The washing machine is not balanced correctly. It needs to be completely level to operate at its best.


  • Washing machine smelling bad

This is something that you may start noticing gradually. You may not even associate it with the washing machine at first, but one day realise that every time you use the machine there is an unpleasant smell. 

This doesn’t usually indicate anything seriously wrong, it probably just means that you need to clean your machine more regularly – see below. But if this doesn’t ease the problem you may need to call in an expert. It could be a problem with the outlet hose or even with your main drainage.


  • Washing machine leaking

The nightmare scenario is that water and lather suddenly start pouring out of your washing machine all over the floor. In reality, this rarely happens: most washing machine leaks are smaller and slower. But leaking water always needs to be taken seriously as it can cause a lot of damage. 

Here are a few things to check if your washing machine is leaking:

  • Leaking from the detergent tray

This could be due to something simple like too much detergent, so check this first. But there may be other causes such as a blocked outlet hose or your water pressure being too strong which may need expert help

  • Leaking from the front or underneath of the machine

The most probable cause of this is some kind of problem with the hoses supplying or draining water from your machine. They may be blocked or damaged in some way or have become disconnected. Check these if you are able to access them, otherwise you may need help.

  • Leaking from the machine door

If your washing machine door is damaged it’s possible for water to leak through. If you have used too much detergent you may also get foam escaping.

If you have a door leak, check the door itself for any chips or cracks, but it is more likely to be a problem with the door seal. The seal may simply need cleaning to enable the door to shut properly.


When it’s time to call for help

Many of the above problems are able to be fixed but some, as indicated, may need more expert help – particularly if they involve electrics or water connection.

But if you think you need to call a repair service for your washing machine, just check a couple of things first.


  • Your home insurance

Some policies include emergency repair or servicing, so check carefully to see if this is the case. You may need to go via your insurance company and their recommended contractors but it could save you money.


  • Your washing machine guarantee

If your washing machine is relatively new, it may still be under guarantee from the manufacturer. So check your documentation before calling in a different repair company.


If neither of these is the case, you may also want to consider whether it’s really worth getting your washing machine repaired? If you’ve had it a while, it may be more cost-effective to buy a new washing machine instead, as the cost of spare parts and labour can be almost as much. A new machine will also be more energy efficient so could wave you money on your energy bills.

But domestic disasters like this always seem to come at the wrong time, when you simply have no spare money to buy a new washing machine. If this is the case, an emergency loan from Loans 2 Go may be able to sort things out. So do get in touch with us to see how we can help.


How to prevent problems with your washing machine

Some of the above problems can be avoided if you look after your washing machine well. 

Six ways to do this are:

  • Clean your machine regularly, including the detergent drawer, drum, and door seals. Use a soft cloth and soapy water to do this.
  • Every month give your machine a hot wash (at least 60℃) with no laundry or detergent in the machine. This will help to get rid of any mould or bacteria. You may also want to use a specialist washing machine cleaner every few months.
  • If you live in a hard water area, descale your washing machine from time to time either with appliance limescale remover, lemon juice or white vinegar.
  • Be careful not to overload the washing machine as this puts extra strain on it. It also means that clothes won’t be able to move around during the wash and get the full benefit of the detergent; so they won’t be as clean as you would want.
  • Check the drain filter regularly. We referred to this earlier, in the section about your washing machine not draining. Get into the habit of emptying and cleaning it often, as this will help your washing machine to operate effectively.
  • If possible, leave the door and the detergent drawer slightly open when the machine is not in use. This will help your washing machine to dry out thoroughly and prevent mould.


We hope that this article has given you some helpful information about how to avoid a domestic disaster by looking after your washing machine, and also what to do if things do go wrong.

Check back here soon for more lifestyle and financial tips from Loans 2 Go.