Washing machine not heating up water

Washing Many people believe the washing machine isn’t heating up water when they can’t feel any hot water through the door. But if the washing machine appears to otherwise work OK and the laundry comes out clean it may not have a fault (there are exceptions to this explained later). The water is only hot inside the washing machine for a small amount of time during a wash.

Many washing machine doors also have an outer plastic insulating cover so it’s sometimes hard to feel any hot water. Another factor is that modern washing machines put so little water in on wash, that hardly any warm water splashes up the door glass like it used to.

Is the laundry coming out dirty?

Sometimes people think the heater isn’t working because laundry isn’t coming out clean. You should still read this article. However, you should then read this article too – Washing not getting clean in washing machine


Heater faulty?

Error Code Virtually all modern washing machines monitor the water temperature during a wash, and if the temperature does not rise a certain amount within a pre-defined time then it should flag a fault. So, if the washing machine heater isn’t working, then the program should abort and produce an error code (see Washing machine stops with an error code ).

However, much older washing machines controlled by mechanical programme timers didn’t use any error codes and would just keep washing forever until the thermostat sensed the correct water temperature.

Washing machine heater If the heater is faulty on a modern washing machine there should normally be an error code displayed that confirms the fault is with the heater circuit.


On an older washing machine the symptoms should be that it carries on washing indefinitely and sticks on the wash cycle but other faults can cause this same symptom too.

Testing a heating element

A heating element can easily be tested with a continuity meter and faulty ones are usually open circuit. Clearly the heater wiring should be checked first for any broken wires or dodgy connections.

However, many washing machines now have the heater at the front and are as such a little inaccessible.

You simply test a heating element with a continuity test meter. If it’s faulty it should be totally open circuit across the two main connections, or at least have a very high resistance. If it’s OK it should give a reading of somewhere in the range of 20 to 50 Ohms.

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Heater protector device may have gone

If a heating element tests out ok and is not open circuit then if the wiring looks ok there could be a toc (thermal overload cut-out) that has gone open circuit. Sometimes such a small device could be located close to the heating element. However, some heaters will have a cut-out built into the heater or there may be a separate safety cut-out which is pushed inside a small tube on the heater. If this was the case it should be easy to spot.

These devices should be simple fuse-like devices that are closed circuit when ok and open circuit when tripped. Never leave such a safety device by-passed. If one has gone open circuit you should be cautious as to why this happened because they should only trip if the heater got dangerously hot (energised with no water in the machine for example) but they could just go for no apparent reason.


No Error Code?

A few modern washing machines I’ve come across (such as Hotpoint and Zanussi) can develop faults that cause the washer to stick mid cycle and wash forever without producing an error code even though they are supposed to. Ironically it’s unlikely to be caused by the heater on machines designed to give error codes because they should easily detect a faulty heater and give the code. In such cases an engineer would be needed to sort it out.

One suspect is the main programme PC but I distinctly remember changing more than one for this fault and it didn’t cure it – unfortunately it could be hard to track the cause. It’s certainly not a diy job. Strictly speaking, if your washing machine completes a cycle on its own, in normal time, and especially if it’s cleaning the laundry ok, then with the majority of washing machines the heater is probably working. Are you concerned that the heater isn’t working because of poor wash results?

However, many washing machines have bugs in their software which allows certain faults to happen undetected.


Anomalies:

An open circuit heater, or a bad connection on the heater on some modern Indesit and Hotpoint washing machines can have the bizarre effect of causing the washing machine to stop functioning apart from the lights and will not produce an error code. This is contrary to all logic. The lights come on, but nothing works. However, note that these symptoms can also be caused by other faults such as a faulty door lock or on off switch or on even an open circuit motor or faulty PCB.

More Anomalies:

If the heating element goes open circuit mid-cycle some washers won’t trigger an error code and will stick on wash. Some may stick on the last minute of the wash cycle.

Zanussi anomalies: Certain Zanussi washing machines may not produce an error code yet still not heat the water up. If you suspect this is happening an engineer would be needed to diagnose the fault as it could also be a sensor or connection fault.

Experience of a Whitegoodshelp user: Bosch “Despite taking roughly the same amount of time to wash, and completing the cycle apparently normally, the heater on a Bosch washing machine did not appear to be coming on as confirmed by attaching an amp meter. This fault turned out to be a loose wire on the NTC sensor next to the heater” – see Bosch Wfr3267Gb/04 Not Heating (How to test an NTC thermistor)


Some Hotpoint washing machines: In the manual for models WMA30, WMA31, WMA32 & WMA33 it says, “If there is no detected rising water temperature over any continuous heating period of 10 mins, the microprocessor will advance to the next part of the program. The user may be unaware that a fault exists unless they use a high-temperature program, in which case the deterioration in wash performance may be noticed”. This of course could affect some other models too.

If the heater definitely isn’t working

If the heater is definitely not working and an error code implicates the heater it should be a case of checking the connections. The heater’s continuity can be checked with a meter and if it’s open circuit or quite high resistance the heater will need replacing.

Where is the heater and how to replace it

See my article for more information – How to remove the heater from a washing machine

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19 thoughts on “Washing machine not heating up water”

  1. Hi there, great site- thanks for the effort you put in.

    I have a Samsung Ecobubble Washing machine, and it doesn’t seem to be heating the water up, but has not produced an error code.

    All was working fine until it was moved downstairs last week, and the washing now comes out of the machine stone cold- to be expected if the last thing in the cycle is rinsing, but previously it came out warm?

    It doesn’t seem to be cleaning very well, and I stopped the cycle a number of times yesterday and the washing was always cold inside the machine.

    It is connected to a proper cold fill supply. Everything inside the machine is pretty inaccessible.
    Do you have any bright ideas?

    Many thanks
    Larry

  2. Thanks Larry. Washing should come out of the machine stone cold because it should have gone through three or four rinses in stone cold water. It should never come out warm, although in hot weather laundry would not be particularly cold because the cold water would be a little bit warmer. If it previously came out warm there is the possibility it was inadvertently connected to a hot water tap although it could possibly just be that water upstairs is a bit warmer than downstairs.

    Read my article here about should the laundry come out warm or cold?

    Having said that this shouldn’t affect whether the heater works or not. This particular article covers all the possibilities of whether the heater is working or not. If it washes normally cleans the clothes then it ought to be heating up okay because if the heater doesn’t work it should produce an error, or stick. There are some anomalies which are also mentioned but if these are relevant you would need an engineer to sort it.

  3. Hi Andy, many thanks for your long and thoughtful reply.

    All good points and taken on board; however, I am still puzzled with the fact the washing used to come out substantially warmer than it does now. The machine is cold fill only, and was previously also (we believe) connected to the mains water cold supply, so temperature should be similar. The kitchen it was previously in has now been stripped out, so I can’t check if there was a warm connection that it was inadvertently connected to.

    The ‘smoking gun’ however is the fact that I stopped the cycle yesterday 3 times, and the washing was always cold- it was supposed to be a 40C wash, which can’t be right?

    Thanks
    Larry

  4. Hello Larry. If it used to come out substantially warmer then the only explanation is that it was rinsing in warm water. The heater is not used during rinses. I have seen many cases where machines have been plumbed in to the hot supply by mistake, sometimes even with cold tap’s with the blue cold water indicator but plumbed into the hot supply so that it looks like a cold tap but it’s actually hot. Normally though such a mess connection would cause excessive creases in laundry and even shrinkage of delicate items.

    There are many places in the wash cycle where the water is in warm. On a two-hour 40° wash cycle it might only be warm between say, 20 minutes and 40 minutes for example. If the heater isn’t working in your machine it should timeout on heat and abort. There are some anomalies that stop this from happening but they usually cause the machine to stick on a wash for a very long time.

    Does the washing machine take a normal amount of time to wash and is the laundry clean?

    1. Hi Andy

      I tend to agree with your idea about the hot water feed, that can be the only solution. The machine seems to be working properly and clothes appear clean, although some serious staining remains on whites where we may have expected better performance.

      As an example, the 55min Daily Wash from yesterday with 2 rinses:

      Door opened at 40mins left, washing cold, Door opened at 25mins left, washing cold

      I may try a very hot wash and then stop the cycle to see what happens?

      Larry

  5. I would expect the water to be cold at those times on a normal wash though a 55 minute wash is very quick, and not likely to heat up much. Also only useful for lightly soiled laundry, totally unsuitable for dirty laundry or laundry with stains. It’s cold from the start, and will only get warm after 10 or more mins of heating up the water then as soon as it reaches temperature it’s likely to pump away the water and fill with clod, drain, then fill with cold again. As washers don;t use much water these days there’s very little water gets splashed up the door glass so that tends to feel cold too.

    Try in on a boil wash (no need to put any laundry in). You should be able to detect some heat after half an hour or so.

  6. Richard Thwaites

    My John Lewis washing machine not that old but out of warranty runs the complete cycle but all cycles are shorter than they should be, like 45% shorter so a 1 hr cycle takes 35minutes or so. Appreciate any thoughts on this.

  7. John Barry Hibberd

    Our ZANUSSI ESSENTIAL 6gh washing machine, we think has a fault with the temperature switch.
    The switch has been very difficult to move, but now we can turn it all the way round without any problem, we are wondering if the switch has now developed a fault.

    Thank you JB Hibberd

  8. If the switch has been very stiff but now it is very free, unless it is somehow just freed itself off something could have broken inside. But presumably if there is a fault the temperature should no longer be able to be selected? If the washing machine appears to work okay it would imply there is no problem now. Make sure it isn’t the control knob that’s broken though and is no longer turning the shaft of the control.

  9. I have a siemens XL1400 which seems not to be heating on any cycle, but also stays on 1min left indefinitely heating element checks out o k any ideas.

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