Washing Machine Tripping or Fusing Electrics

A Washing machine tripping or fusing electrics is a fault you can’t really deal with unless you have electrical knowledge, and a specialist insulation test meter. However, you might be able to do some basic checks as described in this article. A fusing washing machine can be caused by many different components, and many different wires or connections.

Most common causes for a washing machine fusing electrics

  • The motor
  • The heater
  • The suppressor
  • A wire shorting out somewhere
  • Water getting onto an electrical part

Insulation test meter

Insulation test meter To properly diagnose a fusing washing machine you need an insulation test meter. These meters put 500 volts (DC) through the appliance and individual parts.

They can detect the slightest of leaks to earth (low insulation faults). So this isn’t a diy job. If you have the right equipment then you probably already know how to diagnose and deal with low insulation faults. If not, you should get someone in to look at it unless you can see something obvious like a chaffed wire.

If you can’t see anything it might be wiser to book an appliance repair

If you don’t have an insulation test meter

Without an insulation test meter you can’t do proper insulation tests, but it may be worth testing with an ordinary multimeter if that’s all you have. It should pick up a direct short to earth. For example, if you test for continuity between the heating element pins and its earth tag or any part of the metal on the element (remove wires before testing) there should be no continuity.


Warning

appliance safety Never test anything on an appliance when it is plugged in. Don’t try to test live parts. Disconnect from mains before testing.

If you do get a continuity reading, then electricity running through the heater will find a path to earth. This will trip rcds or fuse the plug. The same applies to any other part such as the motor. There should be no continuity between any electrical connection and earth (or the metal casing of the part). However, if no reading is found it doesn’t prove there is no fault.

No continuity may just mean a fault can’t be detected. A continuity test (or multimeter) uses a little as 3 volt’s. It can’t jump gaps, or pass through high resistance paths. But 230 volts from the mains can if there is a fault. This is why a proper insulation test meter is needed.


Exactly when is it tripping the electrics?

If you don’t have an insulation test meter, and/or you can’t find anything with a multimeter, the next best thing is to try to get clues by observing exactly when the machine trips out. If it’s as soon as you plug it in then it could be the suppressor (warning: suppressors and capacitors can give a nasty shock – even when unplugged).

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If it only trips out after it has started filling with water and the drum first started to turn, then maybe it’s a fault on the motor. (If you suspect the motor then it should also trip on spin).

If it trips the electrics a short time after it has finished filling with water and has been turning the drum ok a few times then suspect the heater. (removing the heater from washing machine).


If it only trips out on spin then it could be a bare wire in the wiring somewhere that’s touching something metal when the drum is bouncing around. This can often be intermittent, only tripping with large loads when the drum bounces around much more.

Process of elimination

Check list A competent engineer should be able to find the cause of this fault quite quickly. But without an insulation test meter it’s a different story. You can disconnect the washer from the mains and do physical checks for any snagged or disconnected wires.

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Or for wires where the plastic insulation has been rubbing against something revealing the copper wire. This can short out if it touches something metal when the tub swings about on spin with a heavy load in.

If a part is suspected you can disconnect it to see if it stops the fusing. However this isn’t an ideal method. It could just trigger an error code.

And if it stops the tripping you can’t guarantee it means the part is faulty. For example, you could have a bare wire in the wiring harness to the motor which is shorting out on something.

You might disconnect the motor (moving the affected wire away from where it shorts out).

The washer no longer trips the electrics. So you buy a new motor at great expense. But it isn’t the motor.

The only way to truly test is with an insulation test meter. By the way they are far too expensive to buy to test one appliance. They are typically between £200 and £600 and carried by professional repair engineers.


If washer has tripped the RCD or fused – and now won’t work properly

tripping fuse box Most people will naturally reset or replace a fuse and try the appliance again. If it fuses or trips again do not keep repeating this pointless cycle. Clearly there is something drastically wrong, which needs fixing. Especially in the case of physically blowing a fuse. If you keep allowing something to blow the fuse it can cause more damage to components.

Also, it would be very stupid to try bypassing a fuse!

Occasionally the washer might work OK and appear to have suffered no ill effects. If so, keep an eye on it. If it does it again try to observe when it does it as described above to get clues of possible suspects. If the appliance starts up – but with something not working properly – then it needs repairing. Whatever fused has failed completely, or damaged something else.

If nothing is working at all other than some lights it could be the main suppressor or main pcb. If the motor no longer runs it could be that the motor is the problem and it’s failed completely. However it could also have blown something on the pcb. Without the right knowledge and a proper insulation test meter you need to call in an engineer.


Fused and door won’t open

13 Amp fuse If the door won’t open and the washer has tripped the electrics it could have fused the door lock inside. This should only usually happen if there was a big flash, and maybe there isn’t an RCD fuse-board fitted (which should trip fast enough to not blow parts inside).

Alternatively it could even be the door lock that has tripped the electrics due to something shorting out inside (Washing Machine Door Will Not Open).

Notice how I keep saying, “could”? That’s not a good reason to speculatively by new parts. You need to be sure a part is faulty before thinking about buying one unless it’s cheap enough for you to be happy to take a risk on. And is also easy to replace.

Don’t get carried away

Avoid accidents

Over the years many experienced appliance repairmen have been seriously injured or killed.

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66 thoughts on “Washing Machine Tripping or Fusing Electrics”

  1. hi andy

    i have a beko washing machine 3 years old.
    it start making loud noise a few weeks back like bearing noise.
    the other day it blew the bracker switch in house so i pull it from the wall and opened up.
    found that the water inside the tub passed by the bearings(worn) and trickled down the drum onto the heater element wiring, which i suspect thats what tripped. cleaned it all down (dried up water).
    to test electrics before i tackled the bearings. no power no lights or anything. power going into machine but no response. i noticed there is a emi filter could this be damaged due to the sudden surge? does this act like an internal fuse? any help would be much appreciated.

    many thanks
    paul c

  2. Hello Paul. Something on the pcb could be damaged but white goods engineers don’t generally repair pcbs and are not taught about individual components on them. They usually replace the entire board if faulty. It could in theory have damaged the door lock.

  3. Hello Andy. My girl friend’s Bosch washing machine trips the RCD at the same time into the cycle (about 10 mins every time). She has tried it using an extension cable from the neighbour’s house and it works ok (they also have an RCD in their house). The washing machine is about 8 years old and no other devices trip the RCD. Any thoughts (heater?) Do you think it is likely to be worth repairing the machine, or better just go for a new one?

  4. Hello Keith, that’s a novel way of testing :) It’s possible that her RCD is more sensitive, the heating element could have low insulation which trips her RCD but not the neighbours. It’s even possible the long extension cable might explain why it didn’t trip the neighbours RCD – especially if by any chance it wasn’t earthed! Which would be dangerous.

  5. Many thanks Andy. We’re still not decided whether it’ll be best to get it examined and repaired, or replace it. And there is a bit of a niggling worry that maybe the house electrics are a bit suspect: rats under the floor have maybe nibbled wires – but I guess that would be showing in other elements of the electrical system. But your input is much appreciated. Thanks again.

  6. My new washing machine (May ’15) a Bosch waq283s1gb has started tripping the socket fuse in the house. It is also giving off a burning smell. Obviously I observed what was happening after the first couple of times. Basically it fills up and works fine for about 10 minutes by which time the burning smell has started then it blows the fuse. It’s only 4 months old but we bought it online at aoappliances so I don’t know who to turn to with regards to guarantee etc. I would love your advice. Thank you

  7. Hello Mary. If you think the washing machine is faulty it should be straightforward to get AO.com to send someone to look at it via their website. But the first thing I would check is the plug and wall socket. Carefully examine the plug around the pins to see if there is any discolouring or melting. If it is plugged into a worn wall socket it could overheat during the wash and heat cycle, start to smell and cause dangerous problems. A worn wall socket causing overheating would not be covered under guarantee so check this first. If by any chance the plug is showing signs of burning you should immediately stop using it in that wall socket. You would need to get the wall socket replaced or start to use a different one. If the plug is badly burnt it would need a brand-new plug fitting.

    If you cannot see anything wrong with the socket or plug you would need to get an engineer to sort it out.

  8. Brandon Carroll

    Hello white goods help.

    I have a Miele W562 Prestige Plus 6 washing machine which we have owned for the past 6.5 years and just this morning it has started acted really strange.

    It was on Express Wash and as soon as the drum started turning it trips the RCD Breaker switch, at first I assumed it was the heating element but I believe it’s the motor as on the Express Wash it heats straight away and would have tripped it immediately.

    Please help. We can’t afford to get a new machine and we don’t know how much an engineer will cost.

  9. Sorry Brandon, but as my article explains no one can effectively troubleshoot a low insulation fault tripping or fusing without a specialist insulation test meter that can put 500 volts DC through the appliance and through any suspected parts like a heater or motor. Unless you can see something blatantly obvious like a wire shorting out then the lack of the insulation test meter means even I couldn’t fix it without just guessing at parts. If it trip the second the motor starts turning then the motor is definitely the number one suspect but the last thing you would want to do is speculatively guess at a Miele motor because they are so expensive.

  10. Hi Andy

    Our 6 year old Hoover washer/dryer tripped the RCD the other day, after resetting the RCD I was able to put the timer on “empty” pump the water out fine, set it to do a wash and the machine will fill with water fine and go through a cycle and a dry fine EMPTY, however with a load in it the RCD will trip every time the motor try’s to turn the motor.

    I’m going to take my multi meter home with me tonight and borrow works PAT equipment (I’m PAT certificated) so I can do a 500 volt insulation test

    Previous work I’ve carried out on this machine included changing the drum bearings, which was a complete case split and everything comes out including wiring looms and PCB’s, I was meticulous in the breakdown and re-assemble and have checked all connection’s and cables for possible bare wires.

    My immediate thoughts is the motor, I’ve never replaced the bushes but from last year I remember the bushes looked ok and no carbon deposit on the accumulator, the only thing it did in recent history was leak last week, which only happened when the tumble dryer was in use, so we’ve stopped using the tumble dryer, any pointers would be much appreciated.

    Cheers

    Peter

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