How Can I Keep My Washer From Breaking Down?

Nobody likes unexpected washing machine repairs. And, laundry piles up quickly when the washer is out of commission.

Failing to perform regular maintenance on your washing machine can cause problems. Also, some washer break-downs could be unintentionally caused by your own laundry washing habits. Follow the practical use and maintenance tips recommended below to help keep your washing machine from breaking down.

What Washing Tips Should I Follow to Prevent Washing Machine Breakdowns?

Never, Ever Overload the Washer

It’s so tempting to stuff every single piece of laundry that you can into the washer when starting a load. After all, you probably bought a “high-capacity” washer so it will wash more garments per load. It seems to make sense—you’ll need to wash less loads if you make your loads as big as possible.

Although you can wash full loads in your washer, overfilling the washer not only keeps laundry from getting clean, overloading the washing machine can damage the bearings, seals, shafts, belts, the motor and other drive components.

Follow the guidelines in the owner’s manual for your washer when loading clothes. You’ll avoid unnecessary breakdowns and your laundry will come out of the washer cleaner and fresher.

Always Use the Right Amount of Laundry Detergent

Overdosing the washer with detergent causes excessive deposits in the spin basket and tub. Detergent residue caused by excessive detergent use can cause corrosion and failure of metal components inside the washer. Detergent residue will also stay on your clothes when you use too much laundry soap. You’ll likely begin smelling musty odors coming from your washer as excessive detergent residue prevents proper draining and promotes mold and mildew growth.

Using too much laundry soap can also cause excessive suds. The drain pump can’t pump out excessively sudsy water. The spin basket and bearings will wear out faster when the drain system leaves excessive water in the clothes because the drain pump can’t pump out the water properly.

Carefully follow the laundry detergent dosing guidelines in your owner’s manual. Use HE (high efficiency) detergent if you have an HE washing machine. You’ll likely only need about a tablespoon of laundry detergent for most loads in an HE washer because the machine uses only a small amount of water to wash clothes.

To prevent washer breakdowns, err on the side of using less detergent that risking washing machine damage caused by excessive suds and detergent residue.

Monitor the Washer For Vibration and Banging

While it’s normal to hear some brief thumping and a dull roar from the washer as it begins the spin cycle and accelerates the spin basket, you shouldn’t hear load banging and vibration during the spin cycle. An unbalanced load will typically cause the tub to bank against the cabinet loudly. Stop the washer immediately when you hear banging and balance the load inside the washer. You can then restart the washer and allow the clothes to spin out normally.

Failure to detect an unbalanced load and stop the washer can cause damage to the suspension system, lid lock and other internal components. Although some washers detect an unbalanced load automatically and try to tumble the clothes to balance the load, it’s best to stop the load yourself and rebalance the load when possible to prevent damage to the washer and excessive component wear.

If your washer vibrates loudly and moves across the floor when spinning, then the leveling legs may need adjustment. Level the washer and press down on diagonally opposing corners of the washer to check for up and down play. Adjust the leveling legs to eliminate play so all 4 legs are on the floor to keep the washer stable during the spin cycle.

Excessive vibration can loosen hoses and fasteners—eventually causing failures. Check the levelness and stability of your washer regularly to prevent excessive vibration and avoid unnecessary repairs. Act quickly to level and stabilize the washer when it vibrates excessively.

What Washer Maintenance Steps Help Prevent Breakdowns?

Regular Tub Cleaning

Detergent and softener residue can build up inside the washer tub (even if you don’t overdose the washer with soap as described above). To prevent corrosion of spin basket components, water seals, bearings and fasteners, clean the washer regularly using a washer cleaner such as Affresh. Follow the instructions provided with the washer cleaner to clean your washer’s tub.

Cleaning the Drain Pump Filter

Many front-load washers have a drain pump filter that you can access from the front of the washer. You’ll see a small hinged access door at the bottom left corner of the front cabinet panel if you have a front-load washer with an accessible pump filter. Follow the directions in your owner’s manual to clean out the drain pump filter regularly.

Failing to clean out the drain pump filter will allow coins and debris to build up in the filter. Foreign objects in the drain pump filter can damage the drain pump. If you hear rattling noise coming from the bottom of your washer when it’s draining, stop the washer clean the drain pump filter immediately to avoid damaging the drain pump.

Keep the Washing Machine Level and Steady

As described above in the section describing banging and excessive vibration, keeping the washer level and steady will prevent severe vibration and damage to washer components. Check washer leveling and stability regularly to avoid problems.

Schedule Annual Maintenance by a Service Technician

Having a service professional clean and maintain your washer yearly can certainly help prevent breakdowns. The technician will examine and adjust all parts of the washer to help keep it in top condition and minimize wear. The tech will replace any worn components before they break completely—leaving you without a washer until you get it repaired. Schedule annual washer maintenance and cleaning to help keep your washing machine from breaking down during the year.

Following these tips will help you keep up with your laundry without interruptions. Maintaining and using your washer efficiently will also help you keep your dryer lasting longer. By the way, the service technician can perform the annual maintenance and cleaning on your dryer at the same time he or she performs maintenance on your washer. You can also talk to the tech about cleaning and maintaining all of your other appliances to keep them in top shape and lasting longer. Bundling appliance maintenance can save you money.