Before using a washing machine that has been in storage, especially for a long time, it is wise to be aware that new faults could appear so you should not just assume everything is ok and leave it running unattended. All appliances have the potential to develop a fault that wasn’t there before if they’ve been left unused for a long time. It’s partially due to things drying out, rotting or corroding, or seizing up – and partly one of life’s mysteries.
If it’s been a long time since the appliance was used and/or it’s been stored in a poor environment then it’s possible for hoses or seals inside the washing machine to dry out and go hard, crack, or even rot and split. So it’s wise to keep a very close eye on one that’s not been used for a long time when reusing it for the first time in case it leaks or floods.
What to watch out for when using for the first time
There are various faults that could manifest when using an old washing machine for the first time but the first thing to be cautious of is introducing water into the machine, which of course is the first thing a washing machine does. Therefore, before letting any water go into the machine you need to put it onto a spin cycle to check you will be able to pump it away. Check the following –
Is the water pump running, and sounding normal? There should be two sounds on the spin cycle, the motor & drum revolving together, and the water pump. Most washing machines and even dishwashers make very similar sounds when their pumps run so you should be able to recognise the pump sound. If you cannot hear the sound of the water pump underneath the sound of the drum and motor, or you can only hear a humming sound then the pump could have seized up. If this is the case there is no point allowing any water into the machine, you will only end up with a washing machine stuck full of water.
If the pump is not running or is just making a loud hum you need to either free off the jammed pump or replace it. If it sounds like it is running ok then let the machine do the full spin cycle to warm up gently. If it completes ok you can try the next step which is letting some water inside.
Watch it whilst it fills for the first time and make sure it doesn’t leak or over fill
Ideally you should carefully examine the door seal and the hoses inside the machine (especially the sump hose running from the outer drum to the pump) to see if they are OK. If they look OK I would put the machine on a wash cycle and let it fill up with water.
You are watching for water running onto the floor and also for overfilling. If it leaks you need to troubleshoot why it is leaking. If it doesn’t stop filling and water rises above halfway up the glass with no sign of it stopping it could be overfilling.
If it stops filling at a normal level and starts to wash without leaking onto the floor then things are looking good, but I would now cancel the wash cycle or turn it off and put it onto spin. You need to make sure that the pump is able to pump away the water successfully and that it isn’t blocked anywhere.
If it drains out the water successfully then you can put the washer back onto a wash cycle (40 degree cottons) and then test the machine more thoroughly. A washing machine might leak profusely straight away, but if it doesn’t, this is no guarantee that it won’t leak later on in the wash cycle or on the rinses and spins. Therefore you need to watch the machine for much longer to be sure. If it leaks or otherwise plays up you will at least be there to deal with it.
I wouldn’t leave it running until it’s been on at least 10 minutes without incident, and even then I would keep popping back to watch it every several minutes until it’s well into its cycle and has done a few rinses. Keep an eye on it for the next few wash cycles until you trust it is working properly.