Washing Machine Repair Advice (Or Decent Cheap Replacement)?

Discussion in 'Appliances' started by smarty, 20 Mar 2006.

  1. smarty

    smarty

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    My 10 year old Whirlpool washing machine decided to flood my kitchen on saturday. Fortunately my girfriend saw it and shouted of me so it was stopped before it could really do damage. Luckily I was not out, but I never go out and leave these pieces of crap on anyway as a plumber told me never to as they can cause real problems (this is not the first time I have found out). Anyway the machine appears to be overfilling itself, and simply flooding out of the detergent drawer (it is not a blockage from the detergent drawer into the drum). I have had a look at a guide on the net and it states that it could be a pressure control system fault not detecting the water level due to either a blocked pressure chamber pipe or faulty pressure switch. I guess I know it could be other things just wanted some idea really. I know the pump is working as I got it to empty the piece of crap by forwarding the timer on (it is a very basic machine). I was just thinking of having a go at repairing myself, as I have already had it in many pieces on two other occasions. Once to remove a bra underwire that had came out of a bra (not mine) that became trapped between the outer plastic drum and the inner metal drum. Another time I replaced the machines pump as it was very noisy. I guess the machine is ten years old but it has had pretty light use and is fine except this fault I do not think that I have done it many favours as I often put old pillow covers in it that I use to put on the kitchen chair cushions where my cats sleep. These are covered in cat hair so this could obviously cause a blockage in time I guess

    I guess I just wondering if anybody had an idea? Or if I should just junk it due its age and how much a repair man will charge for labour and parts. I am going to junk it if I cannot repair it myself and get a cheap replacement. Obviously a cheap one is going to be crap, as the price of washing machines has fallen a lot and this just cannot be because they are made in sweat shops, crap components is obviously a major contributor too. I am getting a new kitchen fitted next month and as such I am putting the washing machine in the garage where it will cause less grief when it next breaks. So if I am going for another machine I do not care what it looks like as it is going to end up grubby anyway. I have read that Siemens and Miele make very good machines, but you obviously pay for it. I am not in that position at the moment so I am just going to buy a cheapo piece of junk. So what I really needed to know is out of the cheapo crap brands which are the best? Or are they all made by the same manufacturer anyway? As the guide that I have being reading more or less says that buying a more expensive machine from the same manufacturer (one that makes also cheap machines) is a waste of money as you are essentially just paying for the same (same/similar spec) machine with extra features, like faster spin speeds, higher load capacity, better looking, but the machine is essentially still a piece of crap. Whereas a decent entry level machine from a decent manufacturer is likely to be £450 anyway Just wanted some advice really, is it worth having a go at fixing myself, or just junk it? Who if anybody makes decent budget machines? Apparently replacement of machines these days at a young age (I know mine isn't young) is extremley common, as spares are not cheap niether is labour so most people will just junk a washing machine as they can buy a new one for £200 or even less

    According to the website I looked at this could be a cause for my washing machines fault

    Washing machine is overfilling

    A washing machine overfilling, will commonly have water pouring out of the soap dispenser drawer and / or out of the back. However, it is possible for these symptoms to be caused by several other faults not related to overfilling.

    In theory, if a washing machine is plumbed in exactly as the washing machine manufacturer describes, and the washing machine overfills, then instead of the water pouring out of the washing machine, it should siphon down the drain. However, in practice, it is very rare for a washing machine to be plumbed in so perfectly, water going straight down the drain is more likely to be caused by a fault in the plumbing (see the section above this one)

    If the washing machine is definitely overfilling then turn it off. If water still continues to enter the washing machine then either the hot or the cold water valve must be jammed open. In this situation the water must be turned off at the taps. They should be at the side of the washing machine, but many are fitted under the sink. Some water taps are wrongly situated behind the washing machine. If this is the case you will have to pull the washing machine out. The taps usually have a red and a blue identifier on them to signify which is hot and which is cold although relying on the colours assumes the plumber or installer has fitted them correctly, and I've seen hundreds where the red and blue indicators are the wrong way round.

    If it stops filling as soon as you switch the washing machine off then the fault is with the pressure system that controls the water levels.

    An overfilling washing machine is most usually caused by a blockage in the pressure chamber or more rarely a faulty pressure switch. A hole in the pressure chamber tubing linking the pressure chamber and pressure switch can cause overfilling. Pressure system faults can be tricky to deal with and the consequences of overfilling can be serious. I can't give specific repair instructions but here's how most washing machines control the water levels.

    • There is a pressure switch, which is a small device with several wires on it. This part is always at the top of the machine under the lid. It's round and near to the timer. It's a simple air pressure operated switch but some have 1 level switching, and others have 2 or 3 level switching (different switches operating at different air pressures)

    • At the bottom of this pressure switch is a plastic or rubber tubing hose.

    • This hose runs down to a pressure chamber which is fitted to the tub.

    This is how it works -

    • As water enters the washing machine, it also enters the pressure chamber
    • As the level of the water rises, it enters the pressure chamber and forces air up the tubing. When sufficient air pressure is reached, the pressure switch will switch on. (Conversely, when the water is pumped away, the air pressure should release and cause the pressure switch to switch back off.)
    • This then cuts the power to the water valves and passes it on to the timer which starts washing.

    Thanks for any help
     
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  3. JohnD

    JohnD

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    10 years is a fair age. If it was still working OK I'd keep it, but if it's troublesome the money you spend on a repair could be better put towards a new one.

    There are so many m/cs about from £300 to £900 that if I were you I'd pop down to youre local library and read the "Which?" report. there is an online site but you have to be a member to access it.

    AEG, Bosch, Miele and Siemens seem to do well.
     
  4. smarty

    smarty

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    I have had this machine to pieces last night, checked the pressure chamber and rubber tube up to the pressure control switch and there is no blockages whatsoever. I then decided to put it back together and I have observed 3 wash cycles with no problems :rolleyes: I really do not know what caused it to overfill with water on that only occasion and it is obvious it has an intermittent fault. From what I have read it is either the pressure switch that send a signal when close the water valves (in this case it was rinsing so it was the cold water valve that was open), or possibly the cold water solenoid valve has stuck open. Not being a plumber I do not know which is the most likely to have failed. I feel as though I at least need to replace some part if not both, although the parts are a bit of a rip-off, also I have managed to find a pressure switch on the internet but no cold water fill valve, I guess I should use the phone also. I am soon going to move this machine into the garage as I am having a new kitchen fitted and want it's space for a dishwasher. Once in the garage it is not a problem if it decides to overfill (well it is but it will not do any harm). Just wondered if any plumbers had any idea which part is most likely to develop an intermittent fault out of the level pressure switch or cold water inlet solenoid valve?

    The pump is working fine and there are no blockages anywhere.

    Thanks
     
  5. tockworth

    tockworth

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    From my past experience with this make of washing machine the cold water inlet valve is favourite
     
  6. smarty

    smarty

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    I guess I should try this valve although it is not cheap and only one site is listing it and showing it as valves, so maybe it is a combined hot and cold valve block or something. I will have a look when I get home the machine is a Whirlpool W120 (I need to find out the model number of it, a longer number apparently).

    Just a shame I was not there when it overfilled, as by the time I got downstairs the valve had closed (it was just flooding the place). Thats why I did a few test cycles last night I guess. As if it had started to overfill and I had switched the power button off and if I heard the water fill valve close I would of guessed that it was the pressure level switch that was faulty. But if it had overfilled and continued to overfill after the power was off then I would assume that it was a sticking cold water solenoid valve :mad: Typically it worked fine, and if I just ignore it, it will probably dump its contents in the kitchen next time it fails :rolleyes: Time to get it in the garage as soon as possible, and probably replace it's valve/valves too. I have just lost my user manual on this machine and cannot remember if it can be ran off just a cold fill, as this would make plumbing vastly easier. For some reason off memory I am positive it can be, cannot find anything on Whirlpool's website, will have to look harder. Thanks for the help though ;)
     
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  8. tockworth

    tockworth

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    your theory is absolutely correct and unfortunately you would have to be present when the fault occurred.This is always the dilemma with the intermittent fault.It could have even been a one off if something like a small thread or fluff blocked the inlet to the tube up to the pressure switch and then dislodged and disappeared back into the tub on drain. As far as a single feed is beneficial in your garage you can purchase a "y" connector which is a small plastic fitting which connects from one cold water feed but supplies both inlet valves with cold water otherwise the machine would operate fine on cooler wash programmes but not start on the hotter ones.
     
  9. smarty

    smarty

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    Thanks for the great advice tockworth ;) Gonna get it in the garage asap and see how it behaves. If it dumps water again I will start replacing parts (hopefully the fault may become permanent so I can pinpoint it). The parts are extremley expensive for this machine, no wonder most people probably just dump these things when they go wrong and buy another cheapo one. I really do not know if buying a new machine anyway for £200 would be better than my Whirlpool that I paid about £330 for 10 years ago. I just do not know if they are made in sweat shops now, or are made with very poor components. I think I will just make do and try and save some money and get a decent brand of machine (miele or something) when it gives up totally. After seeing the potential damage that these machines can do, I just cannot believe that I have went out so often leaving it washing clothes :eek: I guess 10 years is very good service out of a machine anyway, but I have no kids and there is only two of us, so my 10 years would probably amount to two or three years service at a guess compared to a family with young children etc :confused:

    I was just wondering are Whirpool's expensive for parts because they are foriegn like cars? Although I am sure that few machines, like everything else are made in this country :rolleyes: My machine says it is made in Italy :rolleyes: Or are all washing machines expensive for bits? It is just if my machine was to give up very soon, then I could only afford some cheap junk to replace it with. So if the new cheap machine was to fail soon (I am sure it would), I was just wondering if any particular brands are cheaper for parts? Or are they all more or less a rip-off?

    Thanks again :D
     
  10. tockworth

    tockworth

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    Yeh you are right with your comments although I would not be able to comment on the price of parts for washing machines as I worked for a rental company (up untill i retired last november) which rented white goods and brown goods and as a service tech I never ever found out the prices of my replacement parts as it was always a free repair to the customer. I think components are now made to just about do and to last just about long enough to see out the warranty period and because of high sevice and parts cost and relatively low cost of a new machine the retail customer the majority of the time will opt for a new machine, good for the manufacturer and the ecconomy but what a kick in the a**e for the enviroment anyway good luck on whatever you decide to do.
     
  11. smarty

    smarty

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    Ok thanks for your help mate, just gonna stick with it. As it is working fine now :rolleyes: (although I am continually watching it as it fills with water as it is still in the kitchen). Just going to get it in its new location asap, and I will take it from there. Hopefully as you previously said it was maybe something blocking the pressure chamber or something ;)
     
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