Last updated on February 6th, 2017
People with this washing machine fault can report two different symptoms which require different lines of investigations. One is where the drum does not revolve on any part of the cycle, and the other is where the drum does rotate on wash and rinses – but it’s just not spinning the clothes at the end. It's important to bear in mind which one of these you have when looking at these common causes or you could investigate completely irrelevant fixes.
- The drum is not turning at all on any part of the cycle? Continue with this article
- The drum seems OK on wash and rinse but just won’t do the fast spin at the end? You need this article – Washing machine not spinning
The drum doesn’t turn at all
When the drum does not turn at all, either on wash, rinse or spin the washer may fill up with water and drain the water but the drum just sits there doing nothing. This means either the motor is not running at all, or something is preventing it from physically turning the drum.
Check the drive beltThe simplest thing to check is whether the drive belt has come off, or has broken. It's easy enough to check and can be done without even disturbing the washer. Turn the drum by hand from the front, if the belt has come off there should be less resistance than usual and it may make a different sound. It should also spin for longer if you spin the drum by hand because it’s no longer connected to the motor. The best person to test this is the one that usually empties the drum when it's finished a wash. They are used to the resistance on the drum as they turn it to check for items of clothing stuck to the drum. The most accurate method though is with the washing machine unplugged and the back panel or lid removed to see if the belt has come off or not.
If the belt is off, then there are usually reasons for this. It's rare for a belt to come off for no reason although it can happen. Clearly if it comes off again after being refitted, there is likely to be a fault – Drive belt on washing machine won’t stay on – keeps coming off.
How tight should a drive belt be on a washing machine?
Fairly tight. You should be able to pluck the belt and get a nice resounding "ping". The belt shouldn't be over tightened though. There should be some sideways play and you should be able to move the belt from side to side approximately a quarter of an inch in the middle. Unfortunately many modern washing machines are deliberately designed so you can't adjust a slack belt. There are no motor slots to adjust. This means of course you must buy a new one if yours is loose (buy new washing machine belt at 4washerhelp)
Another possible cause of drum not turning?
Maybe the carbon brushes in the motor are wornThe most common cause of a washing machine not turning the drum is a fault with the motor. However, there are several other components that can cause the motor not to run so this fault requires the most fault-finding. If it spins OK without a load in but makes a strange crackling or grating sound this could indicate the brushes are worn in the motor and it’s just managing to run when not loaded – but sparking.
Don’t speculatively replace carbon brushes even if you find they are substantially worn down. If worn carbon brushes are the cause of your motor not working then at least one of them should be charred, black, sooty – see pics here – carbon brushes diagnostics & fitting.
The point here is that if both brushes look worn enough to need replacing that's fair enough, they do, but if both are nice and shiny along the area where they run on the armature this shows they are still making good contact, and the absence of charring (as shown on the diagnostics & fitting link) indicates they are probably not the cause of your current problem.
Also, if your brushes are charred, and clearly the problem, they could still only be part of the problem. The armature could be worn too meaning new brushes will not run without excessive sparking, which could cause more serious damage. Or maybe the worn brushes could have flashed and blown something on the pcb or the t.o.c (thermal overload cut-out) on the motor’s field coil. This fault should really be looked at by an experienced appliance engineer with a proper insulation test meter.
Not all motors have carbon brushes fitted
Note that many washing machines these days have brush-less motors. These motors are more reliable, and quieter. They are usually totally silent during wash so you only really hear the water being splashed about. If you have a brushless motor and the motor is not running then it obviously can’t be caused by worn brushes so after checking the connections and motor plug you’d be better calling in an appliance engineer
Hotpoint & Creda carbon brushes
Many Hotpoint and Creda washing machines are notorious for not spinning due to worn carbon brushes because the ones fitted were very soft and thin. Please note that the carbon brushes are only one possible cause for not spinning, and that you must be competent to carry out such DIY repairs. For diagnostic help specifically for the most common Hotpoint & Creda motors which should also serve as general good guidance for any washing machine motor brushes diagnostics check out carbon brushes diagnostics | How to fit Hotpoint / Creda carbon brushes
Other possible causes are a tacho coil fallen off the motor, module faults, connection faults anywhere between the control pcb and the motor and PCB faults as well as motor faults on the field coil or armature. It would be unwise to start buying expensive parts speculatively. Find a washing machine engineer
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