This article is about when the washing machine drum does not revolve on any part of the cycle. It won’t spin, but the drum won’t turn on the wash or rinse either.
Also if the washing machine drum is turning but appears to struggle to turn, and maybe makes strange noises whilst struggling, then this article may also be of help.
However, if the drum does rotate on wash and rinses – but it’s just not spinning the clothes at the end then you need this article – washing machine not spinning.
The drum doesn’t turn at all
Open the door and turn the drum by hand. If by any chance the drum is very stiff or has seized up, this is the problem. Either an obstruction has jammed the drum, or the drum bearings or motor have seized up. Take off the drive belt to find out which one it is.
Check the drive belt is still on
If the drum isn’t seized up the next thing to check is the drive belt. Open the door and give it a good spin by hand. If the belt has come off there should be less resistance than usual. It may make a different sound. It should also spin around for longer because there’s less resistance – it’s no longer connected to the motor.
The best person to test this is the one that usually empties the drum at the end of a wash cycle. They are used to the resistance on the drum as they turn it to check for items of clothing stuck to the drum.
The only way to know for sure though is with the washing machine unplugged and the back panel and lid removed. You can then see if the belt has come off or not.
Drive belt off?
If the belt is off there are usually reasons for this. It's rare for a belt to come off for no reason although it can happen. Has the washing machine been very noisy for some time? If so the drum bearings may have collapsed.
If you can’t see anything wrong and the belt looks OK you can try refitting it. If it comes off again after being refitted, there is likely to be a fault. This article describes the causes of the belt coming off – drive belt won’t stay on – keeps coming off.
How tight should a drive belt be?
Quite tight. If you pluck it you should get a nice "ping". It shouldn't be over tight though. You should be able to move it from side to side approximately a quarter of an inch in the middle. Most modern washing machines are designed so you can't adjust a slack belt. You must buy a new one if yours is loose.
More causes of drum not turning
If the belt is still on, and not overly slack, and the drum isn’t seized up, then the fault must be related to the motor not working. The most common cause for the motor not running is worn carbon brushes (if fitted). However, there are many other possible reasons why a motor isn’t working. There can also be complications regarding carbon brushes if the main part of the motor is also worn, or there is excessive carbon dust built up in the motor.
Crackling or "gratering" noise from motor
Sometimes the drum turns OK without a load in but makes a strange crackling or grating sound and struggles to turn with laundry inside. This could also indicate worn carbon brushes in the motor.
Don’t speculatively replace carbon brushes. Even if you find they are substantially worn down. They may well need replacing, but if worn carbon brushes are the cause of your motor currently not working then at least one of them should be charred, black, sooty – see here – carbon brushes diagnostics & fitting.
Not all motors have carbon brushes fitted
Note that many washing machines these days have brush-less motors. These motors are generally 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
Replacing carbon brushes
If you think the carbon brushes have just worn out and need replacing many people do successfully replace them. But you must be competent to carry out such DIY repairs. I have articles with diagnostic help specifically for the most common Hotpoint & Creda motors.
However, the articles are also relevant for any washing machine motor brushes diagnostics (if carbon brushes are fitted). Check out –
Get Your Appliance Fixed
More causes of motor not running
I’ve covered the most common reasons why the drum isn’t turning on a washing machine. But there are many other possible causes, which are less appropriate for DIY repairs. If none of the above helps then the main thing is to check the wiring and connections on the motor plug and wiring harness. In some washing machines if the tacho coil has fallen off the motor under its cover it can stop working. There is information on the tacho coil here Tacho coil.
Then there are unexpected anomalies that make fault finding even harder. Some washing machine brands such as Hotpoint, Creda, Indesit, and Ariston running specific software can even stop the motor from running if the main suppressor filter is open circuit. This will also not result in any error message. Do not mess with the suppressor unless you know exactly what you are doing. They can hold an electric charge after being disconnected from the mains which could give a nasty shock.
Other faults are module faults, connection faults anywhere between the control pcb and the motor, PCB faults, and other motor faults such as open circuit field coil, TOC or armature. It would be unwise to start buying expensive parts speculatively.
Note that many PCB faults are invisible to the eye – and many PCB components can get hot and attract a black soot around them. This is commonly mistaken for burning. The best thing is to get a proper repair engineer Find a washing machine engineer
Be Safe: Don’t risk it
Please take a moment to check out my DIY repair safety advice, which not only covers electrical safety but other things you may be less aware of too.
Don’t get carried away
Even experienced appliance repairmen have been seriously injured or killed