Washer and dryer troubleshooting for common problems

Minor malfunctions call for a DIY approach, but save major repairs for the pros. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Wayne B. of Bellevue, Wash.)

Minor malfunctions call for a DIY approach, but save major repairs for the pros. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Wayne B. of Bellevue, Wash.)

Did your washer quit spinning or dryer quit heating? Before considering replacement or hiring an appliance repair professional, try these troubleshooting tips to get the appliances up and running.

Washer or dryer won't turn on

• Sometimes the problem is something as simple as the machine not receiving power, which can be caused by a faulty outlet, a circuit breaker that has tripped, or mechanical timers and knobs that have stopped working.

• If the machine is under constant heavy use, its motor can overheat and momentarily stop working. If, after giving the motor time to properly cool down, it again fails to turn on, contact a professional to repair the machine. There could be more serious issues, such as a faulty thermal fuse or thermostat.

Related: To make your machine last longer, avoid these common washing machine mistakes and dryer mistakes.

Machines fail to spin or tumble

• The most common reason for this is a broken or loose belt. When the belt is the culprit, you can hear the motor running even though the machine's drum is not spinning. A loose, snapped or worn belt needs to be changed.

• If the door doesn't properly close or the door's switch isn't working, it will stop the machine from spinning.

• Other more serious problems are issues with a washer's transmission or clutch, or it could be a dryer's pulley, glides or drum rollers.

More: Average maintenance cost of a washer and dryer and price to replace

Dryer produces little or no heat

• The dryer will produce little to no heat if it can't get the right amount of air. Proper airflow is crucial.

• Also, if your settings (amount of time, type of fabric, temperature, etc.) do not correspond to the kind of clothes or fabrics you are drying, the dryer will appear ineffective. Avoid putting too many clothes in the dryer.

• A malfunctioning heating element, ignitor or thermal fuse can cause a dryer to stop producing heat and will require professional repairs. A heating element can break or burn. The ignitor can also break or develop white or yellowish deposits that hamper its function, and the thermal fuse can blow.

Washer won't drain

• Kinks and lint filters on the hose are common culprits, as is the hose not sitting above the level of water in the tub.

• A malfunctioning water pump can also be the culprit. Removal and replacement requires an experienced technician.

Washer leaks

• Bad seals or gaskets can cause a washer to leak water. The tub has a main seal that can begin to leak after heavy use. A bad main seal usually requires professional help to replace.

• Leaks on a front-load washer are caused by the door's seal. If it continues to leak after a good cleaning, have the gasket replaced to ensure a proper, tight seal when the door is closed.

• A water pump with a bad seal will let water drip out and needs to be fixed.

If the repair seems too intense for your DIY homeowner skills, be sure to hire a qualified appliance repair service.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of a story originally posted on Sept. 14, 2012.

More Like This

5 Common Washer and Dryer Parts That Need Repair


washer and dryer part repair
If you're washer's not washing or your dryer's not drying, you might want to call a pro. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Maurice F. of San Antonio, Texas)

It may seem at first glance like fixing a malfunctioning washer or dryer is easy, but consider relying on a professional repairman instead--especially when it comes to replacing these common parts.


I sold a used washer worked fine but now the purchaser says he can only get cold or hot water not both together does he have it hooked up wrong or is there something wrong with it?

Dryer not working. It is apartment stacked style. Moving and do not wan to purchase a new one if it can be repaired.

Add comment


What is Angie's List?

Angie’s List is the trusted site where more than 3 million households go to get ratings and reviews on everything from home repair to health care. Stop guessing when it comes to hiring! Check Angie’s List to find out who does the best work in town.

Local Discounts

Daily deals up to 70% off popular home improvement projects from top-rated contractors on Angie’s List!