How to Fix Washer That Won't Start | Washing Machine Repair

How to Fix A Washer That Won't Start

About this repair:

  • Rated as EASY
  • 2013 repair stories
  • 10 step by step videos

Lid Switch & Actuator

The lid switch on a top load washing machine is a safety device designed to prevent the motor circuit from operating when the lOn some models, the water inlet valve circuit is controlled as well. If the lid switch fails, the washer may not start. The lid switch is normally located beneath the main top with a projection on the lid or a pin attached to the lid that will actuate the switch when the lid is closed. Verify that the switch is being activated mechanically and that any levers or actuators are not damaged or sticking. If the switch is being activated but there is no power being supplied to the motor or water valve circuits, then the switch may be defective. Disconnect power from the appliance and remove the wires from the switch. You can then check the switch for continuity with a multi-meter. We strongly recommend that you DO NOT bypass a lid switch as it is an important safety feature and serious injury could result.

Door Switch & Strike

A safety feature found on front load washing machine is the door switch and the door lock and strike. On most models, the door switch must be closed and the door lock must be activated before the washer will start. The switch is normally located in the door frame of the washing machine, but may also be part of the door lock assembly. Inspect the strike to make sure that it engages the door lock assembly and that the door remains closed. To check the door switch for continuity with a multi-meter, you will need to disconnect the power and remove the front panel.

Start Switch & Timer

The start switch on some top load washers is often part of the timer and is activated by pulling out on the timer knob. Although not normally available as a separate part, the switch can be tested for continuity with a multi-meter. You will need to remove power from the appliance and then locate the correct timer contacts as noted on the wiring diagram. On some electronic controlled models, the start switch is a momentary contact type switch located on the control console. You can test this switch for continuity with a multi-meter when the push button is held in. Remove power from the appliance and at least one of the wires from the switch first.


On models that use a start switch that is part of the timer, you should also check the timer knob to ensure that it is properly engaging the shaft that operates the switch. Normal wear can cause the knob to slip on the shaft and not be able to engage the switch mechanism. Remove power from the appliance and then access the back of the timer. Visually inspect the shaft to verify that the knob engages it when pulled out and pushed in.

Drive Motor

All washing machines use a motor that is responsible for spinning and agitating during the cleaning cycle. Many top load brands use a reversing motor which means the motor spins in one direction for agitating and another for spinning and draining. If the motor does not start, but makes a humming or buzzing noise then it may be defective. To verify if the motor is at fault, remove the drive and /or pump belts and then try to start the motor again. On direct drive models, you will have to disengage the pump and the direct drive coupling to the transmission. If the motor starts, then the problem is with the transmission or the pump and can be further diagnosed by reconnecting each one individually. If the motor does not start or continues to hum or buzz, then it will need to be replaced. Use caution when working on or near the motor as there are live electrical circuits and moving parts. On front load washers the motor normally drives the wash basket with a multi-ribbed belt. Simply remove the belt and try to start the motor again. If the motor turns normally then you should verify that the basket turns freely and does not have anything caught between it and the outer tub.

Main Control Board

On electronic control models, the main control board operates the individual components of the washer including the fill circuit and the drive motor in the same manner as a manual timer model. If the control board does not provide the proper voltage to the drive motor, fill valve, drain motor or door lock then the washer may not start. The main control board on most washers is complicated and difficult to diagnose without proper test equipment and procedures. You can visually inspect the control for signs of electrical arcing or burned or damaged components on the board. You should use caution when replacing a control board as sometimes the burned components are caused by external component failures. These will need to be identified and corrected before installing a new control board. Service should be attempted only by qualifies persons.

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