Washing Machine Won’t Start

This article is for when an appliance is completely lifeless and won’t start. With no sign of anything working at all. If your washing machine won’t start on a wash cycle – but it will work OK on spin then it may be related to not taking any water in. Go here instead won’t fill with water.

Check the basics first

Wall socket Always start with the simplest possible explanation. Is the wall socket turned on? Has the wall socket gone faulty?

If some lights come on it implies it is plugged into a working socket.But if there are no lights or display at all, then check that the socket is supplying power by plugging something else in such as another appliance. Check that the wall socket hasn’t been turned off. I’ve seen wall sockets switched off by the machine itself, when it moved around on spin and pushed one of the washing machines hoses into the on off switch.

tripping fuse box If you find that the wall socket is dead there could be an electrical fault on the socket. But before you investigate or call an electrician you might also want to doublecheck that the fuse hasn’t tripped in the fuse box that supplies the socket used by the washing machine.

Is the wall socket that the appliance is plugged into switched on and off by another switch somewhere else? Many kitchens have a separate on off switch for the appliance sockets. Usually at around worktop height or just above. These switches are commonly labelled. One for the washing machine, one for the dishwasher, one for the oven etc. If this is the case, ensure that the socket hasn’t been switched off there.

13 Amp fuse The next thing to check is the fuse in the plug. Clearly this will not be necessary if any lights on the washer are lit up. Test with a continuity test meter. If you don’t have one, put the fuse into something else and check the appliance still works. Or try another fuse that you know to be OK in the washer. Make sure you use a 13 amp fuse. And never by-pass a fuse! – If the washer has tripped the electrics or blown a fuse

If wall socket & fuse are OK but washing machine won’t start

The most common cause for a washing machine that wont start is the door lock, particularly if the main light on the washing machine has come on, but nothing works.

However, the fault could also be in wiring to the door lock, or the door catch not activating it properly, or a faulty on off switch, or even the main control module. With some washing machines (eg Indesit and Hotpoint) even an open circuit heater or motor can cause the entire washing machine to stop working except the led lights.

Repairman_sml Therefore you need to know what you are doing to trace this type of fault and need a continuity test meter. So if it isn’t the wall socket or the plug, and you can’t see any loose wires you may be be better getting an appliance engineer to trace it.

How the door lock works

Door interlock The key to tracing faults is a full understanding of how things should work. So if you suspect the door lock see my article which covers how does a washing machine door lock work?

Read on for advice about the door lock.

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More possible causes

If it isn’t the door lock it could be so many other things including as mentioned earlier bizarre things like a faulty heater or motor on some machines. It could even be the main pcb. It would be foolish to just guess at a part and replace it.

The correct way to work is to diagnose, and show that a part is faulty before replacing it. Please consider using my links for spares and booking repairs, which helps keep this resource running.

If washing machine fills with water but won’t start washing

If the washer won’t start but it does actually at least take water in and it seems to be going straight down the drain try here Washing machine fills and drains at same time

Electrical-safety Do not work on a live washing machine. Engineers use a continuity test meter to trace faults with the washing machine unplugged and never test with a live washing machine, which is crude and dangerous.

8 things you should never do when repairing a washing machine

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16 thoughts on “Washing Machine Won’t Start”

  1. You are a genius! I tried plugging the toaster into the powerpoint used by the washing machine and it didn’t work – so I tried plugging my Hoover washing machine into another plug and all systems are go! Thanks a million!!!!!

  2. Margaret Hatton

    My washing machine wouldn`t start. Instead of checking wall socket I pulled machine out and dumped it as it was nearing it`s sell by date anyway. Got another machine and that`s when I realised it wasn`t the machine that was faulty it was the wall switch! Checked and changed fuses (13amp.) Still wouldn`t work . Plugged new machine into different wall socket and worked brilliantly! Now…can somebody please tell me why my wall switch not working ???

  3. Sadly Margaret, your case highlights perfectly why you should always eliminate the very simple things first and why my article starts with checking the sockets. Hopefully you’ll be glad you got a new one anyway :) It reminds me of a case where I had a regular customer ring me and ask me to bring her a new washing machine because her old one leaked when it emptied water – which is exactly what the new one did when I connected and tested it because the fault was on the plumbing and not the washer.

  4. Hi, I was just wondering is there any way I can fix the door lock on my own as money is tight at the moment and as I have a young child and fella to look after I need the machine ASAP to do the laundry.

  5. If it’s definitely faulty they should be easy enough to replace. You just disconnect the machine from the mains and take off the front part of the door seal from the door rim. You must make sure the machine is properly disconnected as one of the wires on the interlock is likely to be live!

    The difficulty is in correctly diagnosing it. If this article and the one about door locks which it links to (How does a washing machine door lock work?) don’t help then I can only recommend getting an engineer in.

  6. Thanks Andy,
    Well I came to the conclusion it must be the door lock as the washer turns on but won’t spin and the led for the door locked light does not light up. My other thinking is that it could be the motor but I’m not sure.

  7. That’s the problem Rebecca, It may or may not be the interlock so you’d have to accept a risk of wasting time and money by effectively guessing. As I mention in my article some washing machines can have those symptoms caused by an open circuit motor or even heater.


    “However, the fault could also be in wiring to the door lock, or the door catch not activating it properly, or a faulty on off switch, or even the main control module. With some washing machines (eg Indesit and Hotpoint) even an open circuit heater or motor can cause the entire washing machine to stop working except the led lights.”

  8. Hi,
    my washing machine, will not turn on. No power is coming to it as the lights are not working. Checked plug and fuse.
    It is a hotpoint machine.
    Is it likely to be serious and expensive, if its not them two problems.

    because if i call someone out and its a hefty call out charge plus a lot to fix even worse not economical to fix. I would rather call quits now and put money towards a new one.

    out of the range of problems it could be what the price ranging from low to high.


  9. Sarah, it could be anything from a simple connection fault to the main pcb so it’s not possible to put estimates up. All I can say is if it was the main pcb it would probably be too expensive to repair, but that’s normally the least common cause. If it isn’t the plug or fuse, but no lights at all come on, then that’s less common because normally a fault with the door lock would still allow lights to come on. It could be just one wire come off. If it’s an older Hotpoint they were terrible for the main live wire to the door lock burning out and coming off.

  10. I have a bosch washing machine which is 16 months old. I put on a 90 degree wash today and it started fine but 30 min’s in the timer stopped counting down, all the lights kept going off and the cycle stopped for a minute and then come back on. I turned the machine off to cool down to look to drain it but it would not start up again and no light would come on could this be a serious fault and worth getting an engineer out as could be costly.

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