By MyPros Staff
Like all the other appliances in your home, washing machines have changed a lot since their invention, and particularly in the last decade or two. Advances in digital technology have changed the control panels, and the materials used in the appliance’s construction have been vastly improved as well. On the whole, however, the operation of the machine is pretty much the same as the one your grandparents used.
Problems with appliances, generally speaking, can be broken into several categories. There are the control and interface issues, with switches and timers, and then there are the mechanical issues. With washers, these mechanical issues again break down into a couple of categories, and these are where most of your clues about malfunctioning will come from.
A number of the basic washer components have to do with managing the “ins and outs” of the water. Something called an inlet valve will control the amount of hot and cold water is allowed into the washer tub, depending on the settings for wash cycle, type of clothes, etc. With many machines, you turn the dial and pull it out to start (a common method with “analog” swtiches), at which point the water begins flowing. If it doesn’t, you have a problem.
That problem could be electrical or electromechanical (switch didn’t work), or you could have a water supply issue. Check your faucets, hoses, connections and home water supply if water is not flowing. Among the more common problems with the controls are broken switches, even (perhaps especially) with the new generation of “digital” control panels that complicate what used to be a simple switch with colored LEDs, touch screens and “membrane” switches.
Of course, at its most basic – and leaving aside what kind of controls are involved – a washer has a tub that clothes get washed in and water goes in and out of. Making all that happen is a powerful electric motor, which drives the tub with either a belt or a direct transmission connection. Models that use a rubber belt will commonly suffer breakage, stretching or slippage of that belt. This usually occurs after some years of service, assuming that there were no manufacturing quality-control issues.
Among the various common problems – water supply, leaks, switchgear, control panel displays and switches – there are more than a few that can be caused by user error. The most common problem that is caused by an unwitting user is exceeding the weight or volume limits of the washer.
Putting in two comforters and three pillows will probably overwhelm most washing machines. Cramming such a load of absorbent fabric into the tub is asking for trouble, particularly when using a belt-driven unit. Water weighs a lot – 8.35 pounds per gallon – and when too much weight is in the tub, several unpleasant occurrences are possible.
The first, of course, is that your belt will snap, slip or stretch. A “shaft-drive” machine could even suffer a clutch malfunction. Whether by sheer weight, or by interfering with the free movement of the washer’s agitator, the motor, tub and connecting components will be subjected to very damaging amounts of stress in this scenario.
There are enough vagaries in life, and with your appliances, without adding trouble through misuse. Operate your washer correctly and do not overwhelm it with too much weight by overfilling the tub with clothes, etc. If you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, you should be fine. Just keep on the lookout for leaks, keep your ears open to the sound of screeching rubber belts or laboring transmissions, and make sure to supply the appliance the correct amount of power on the right electrical circuit. With proper care, and with you paying attention, you should get years of dependable use from any quality unit.