Top-Loading Washer Troubleshooting Tips

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Is your washing machine acting up? Our YouTube playlist is loaded with solutions to the most common problems.

In the most popular video series on our YouTube channel, the pros at Sears Home Services share their best troubleshooting tips for common problems befalling top-loading, high-efficiency washers. Oftentimes, there’s a simple fix that you can do yourself that can save you from having to have a washer repair service.

Here’s a recap of the washer troubleshooting tips they shared.

Water Leaking Click to view our video

The problem: You notice water on the floor of your laundry room. Answer these questions before making a service call:

  1. Too much suds? It might not be a leak at all. You could have a simple case of “Bobby Brady Syndrome” — adding too much detergent, creating a sudsy mess. Make sure you’re using HE (high-efficiency) detergent and the proper amount for the size of the load you’re running.

  2. Are the hoses installed properly? Check them to make sure they’re secure. If those things check out and you’ve still got water leaking when the machine isn’t running, turn off the water and call the pros at Sears Home Services.

Vibrating or Thumping Click to view our video

Your washer cycle’s making more noise than the drunk at the office holiday party. Here’s what may silence it:

  1. Did you overload? Unbalanced loads can cause vibration or thumping. Space out your loads — it might be as simple as that.

  2. Is it level? Are all four feet of your washer on the floor? Are the legs properly installed? If they are, see if your dryer is making the same sort of noise. If it is, your floor could very well be the issue. Try this: Place a piece of ¾-inch plywood underneath both the washer and dryer to create a level surface.

Doesn’t Fill With Water Click to view our video

Water is, after all, a key player in washing your clothes. If your machine won’t fill, there might be a few reasons why:

  1. Is the lid closed all the way? Many washers won’t fill if the lid is open.

  2. Are the hot and cold faucets on? A Helpful Hannah in your household might have turned them off and forgotten to tell you.

  3. Are the screens clogged? Wait, what screens? Many people don’t know there are screens on the back of the machine where the hot and cold water hoses connect. Turn the water off, unhook the hoses and clean any debris or residue that may have built up there. Then reinstall the hoses. A word to the wise, though: Don’t take the screens off or discard them — that can cause flooding. And make sure you turn the water back on or you’ll be sent back to the previous step.

Detergent Residue on Clothes Click to view our video

Having to rewash clothes is a time suck — not to mention a water and energy waster. If your washer is leaving traces of detergent behind, ask yourself:

  1. Are you using the detergent dispenser? Always use it when adding detergent. If your machine doesn’t have one built in, add the measured amount of detergent before adding the laundry load.

  2. How old is that box of detergent? If you can’t remember the last time you bought detergent, toss the box and get a new one.

  3. Did I overload? We know how tempting this can be. But detergent can get trapped between tightly packed loads, and if there’s not enough water, the detergent might not dissolve completely.

  4. Is the culprit the cold water, gentle or delicate cycles? If you’re doing a dark load and the water is very cold, powder detergents may not dissolve. That’s also the case if you’re running gentle or delicate cycles. Use liquid for these loads.

It Won’t Start Click to view our video

Washer Stops Mid-Cycle Click to view our video

Don’t panic. It might not be as serious as it looks. Here are some things to try:

  1. Is it, um, plugged in? Four words you never want to hear from a service tech: “It wasn’t plugged in.” Before you do anything else, check to make sure the power cord is still plugged into a grounded outlet. If it is, see if the outlet itself is working by plugging in another electronic device like a hairdryer or a lamp. If that works, the outlet’s functioning. If it doesn’t, check your fuse box or circuit breaker. Still nothing? If the outlet has a reset button, press that bad boy and hope your washer springs to life.

  2. Is the power on? We hate to even suggest that you didn’t press power — ’cause how embarrassing would that be?

  3. Is there a delay button? Some washers have a delay feature. You may have pressed that button inadvertently. Press stop twice to cancel any delay.

  4. Is the lid closed all the way? Again, some washers won’t function if the lid isn’t tightly closed.

  5. Are you using an extension cord? If so, you’re getting less voltage to the washer and it can run hot as a result. If that happens, it’ll shut down mid-cycle. Stop using the extension cord.