Appliance error codes are a mixed blessing. We are so used them now it’s amazing to think that they never existed until relatively recently. If you know what they mean they can give an indication of what has gone wrong. But they are usually kept secret from us – and believe it or not – from independent appliance repair engineers too.
Even if you have a list of error code meanings the explanations can be cryptic, contain multiple possible causes, and at times can be next to useless.
What You Need to Know
If you are currently trying to find out what an error code means – take some time to read the rest of this page and see the tips and warnings first. It might save you a lot of stress and money. Here are 4 things you need to know about appliance error codes.
1: Error codes are often secret
The first problem with error codes is that it’s very hard to find out what they mean.
The information is not made public – apart from a few basic ones like check the washing machine is plugged in or check the door is closed. In fact some manufacturers don’t even publish them to independent repairers, the legality of which is currently being debated.
I will link to my own list of error code explanations later but read on first to get a full understanding of the topic.
2: Error code explanations are often unhelpful to the public
Even if you have an explanation for an error code it is likely to be of little or no use to the majority of people. Even engineers can find them quite unhelpful at times.
Many examples exist, but here is an error code description from Zanussi washing machine manual –
E34 = incongruency between level of electronic pressure switch and level of electronic pressure switch 2 (duration of fault at least 60 seconds) – possible causes – 1: Hydraulic circuit of pressure switches 2: Electronic pressure switch 3: Pressure switch 4: Wiring 5: Main PCB.
I doubt this would be of any use to most people. Most error codes are designed to guide an experienced engineer to the various possible faults. Note that it lists several possible causes. It may be necessary to try changing the main PCB, which you would be crazy to do. It’s too expensive, with no guarantee of a fix. An engineer can often do that though because they may have one available to try, which can removed if it does not cure the fault.
This explanation wouldn’t even allow you to gauge whether it’s serious or not because at least one of the possible causes is just a poor connection somewhere in the wiring. Being furnished with that error code would leave most people none the wiser. Many error code explanations are equally cryptic, or cover too many different possible causes to be any use to the public in general.
3: Even concise error code meanings can be unreliable
Some error code explanations are much more precise and may implicate a specific part. However, on more than one occasion I’ve replaced the named part only to find that the fault remained. I’ve also had cases where only a connection fault is implicated by the error code explanation, but the fault was actually caused by a faulty part.
Some error codes also just give an obvious description of what has gone wrong such as, “motor not running” or, “not draining”.
This type of error code explanation is also next to useless because they don’t contain any diagnostics and instead simply describe the fault which anyone can see for themselves.
Error code explanations that CAN be useful to the public
Another example from Zanussi –
E11 = Problems with water fill in wash phase (maximum 10 minutes for each fill phase). Possible causes = 1: Tap closed 2: Mains water pressure insufficient 3: Solenoid valve 4: Hydraulic circuit of pressure switches 5: Pressure switches 6: Wiring 7: Main PCB
This error code explanation is more useful because two of the possible causes are simple things that most people can check.
1: Tap closed and 2: Mains water pressure insufficient – and they don’t even need to look inside the washing machine. If it isn’t either of those faults though you will need diagnostic skills to find the fault.
4: Some error codes may be totally wrong
A poor earth on the washing machine or in the wall socket can cause erroneous error codes on some washing machines. So it’s possible for an error code to give a specific fault, yet be completely wrong.
Here’s a great example from my Washerhelp forums.
There were 2 different brands of washing machine that produced two different error codes when installed in the same place.
One flagged up a motor fault, and the other flagged up a door lock fault – yet the owner eventually discovered (after buying a new washing machine) that the fault was actually a fault in the wall socket – Siemens wrong error codes washing Machine Problem .
That example was in a UK washing machine taken over to India, but it shows how a voltage problem could cause false error codes. However, here’s another example of an error code apparently being completely wrong Hotpoint Ultima Wt721 Fault Code F-08
Some error code explanations are potentially useful to the public. A few simple ones are mentioned in the instruction manual. They refer to problems a customer can easily fix such as blocked pump filter, a kinked fill hose, or maybe a tap that has been accidentally turned off.
So if looking for an error code’s meaning always check your instruction manual first. Most of the codes that you can do something about are listed there (Lost your instruction book? – Washing machine instruction books and user manuals). For help on some other error codes please check the links below, but bear in mind you could end up wasting a lot of time and money unless you really do know what you are doing.
More on error codes and related topics
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