Project Thirty Two: Fixing the Washing Machine
Today wasn’t the first time I’d had to fix the washing machine, so it wasn’t actually too daunting a task. For a few weeks now an ominous puddle of water has been appearing around the front of the washing machine at the end of a cycle, and then yesterday while the washing machine was on it was making a very strange ‘clunk clunk’ noise during the wash cycle, then when it started spinning the kitchen began to smell of melting plastic. Not a good sign, not a good sign at all. By the time the cycle had finished the smell was pretty strong, and electrical fires scare me, so I switched the washing machine off at the mains and did a google search to find out what could be wrong. I found a very helpful site called Washer Help that I would recommend to anyone else with washing machine problems.
If you are going to do anything to your washing machine that involves unscrewing the water hose from the water tap, please make sure you have a new washer ready as you won’t be able to use the old one again. I didn’t know this the first time and by then it was too late to buy a new washer so I had to wait till the next day.
Turns out all sorts of problems could be causing this, so this morning I started to investigate, with the boy insisting on helping.
Step One: Pull the machine out from under the counter and unplug from the wall.
Step Two: Turn off the stop-cock for the water supply to the washing machine, unscrew the water hose from the tap and remove the waste-water hose from where it is attached to the U-bend under the sink. Have some old towels ready to mop up the inevitable drips.
Step Three: Remove the bottom panel at the front of the machine, put a folded old towel under the machine and unscrew the front pump filter to check for any obstructions.
Be prepared for a significant gushing of water as you unscrew the filter, you can just about see all the water coming out in the picture above. Now, are you ready to see what nasty culprits were trapped here?
This is what happens when you are too lazy to check pockets before putting a load of washing on, and when you have a boy who is always filling his pockets with treasures. Actually, I’m not sure I can blame the boy really. This is what came out of our pump filter: one ten pence coin and a twenty pence coin; a solitary blister capsule for an ibuprofen, empty; a broken flowery hairclip and a rusty one too; an unidentified metal thing; a pebble and some little lego (not pictured). Shocking really isn’t it? But wait…that’s not the last of what we found in our washing machine, the investigation continues.
Step Four: Carefully tip the washing machine forwards and rest it on its front, on some folded towels to prevent scratching or denting. If you’re not that strong you may need to ask another adult for help with this.
Step Five: Carefully remove the big rubber tube that connects the washing machine drum to the pump, which you can access from the underside of the washing machine once it is tipped on its front. On our whirlpool it is a big black rubber accordion tube, attached to the drum with wire that can easily be loosened to remove. You can see it in the photo below, having been removed from the drum and leaving the hole that the boy is putting his finger in.
Please remember, if you are going to embark on anything like this, to completely disconnect the washing machine from any power source, and be very careful not to touch any wires, even once disconnected. If you are going to allow children to help you, please supervise them the whole time. Washing machines are big, heavy, potentially dangerous machines.
I let the boy help me, and it turned out to be very good thing, as he has much smaller hands than me and could get his fingers inside the drum to pull out the shocker we found stuck there.
Found something. But what could it be? Hmm.
A sock! and one of mine at that! Now I know why we always have so many odd socks, the washing machine is the sock monster! We only managed to pull this one sock out in the end, but I definitely felt another one lurking in the far reaches of the drum, just brushing my fingers seductively but not allowing me to get a grip on it. The boy’s fingers were too short to reach it, and my fingers too big to do anything but stroke the sock. After about 40 minutes of frustrated stroking I gave up and reassembled the machine. If the sock was that far away from the drainage pump it was hardly going to be a problem, right?
Step Six: Reattach the big black hose to the bottom of the drum, making sure the seal is on tightly. Put the washing machine back upright; reattach the water pipe to the water tap and turn on the stop-cock(remember you will need a new washer to seal this); and reattach the waste-water pipe to the U-bend under the sink. Plug in the washing machine and carefully push it back into its space under the counter. Switch the mains for the washing machine back on and put your washing machine on a test cycle (a short quick cycle will do) to check that it is all working properly and there are no leaks or anything.
In my case I fixed the problem and the washing machine no longer leaks or makes funny noises or smells. Horray.
In order to reduce the risk of small things like socks working their way inside the drum again, I am going to make some laundry bags that all our smalls get washed in. We have had net bags before but they allwyas rip or the zips break after a few months, so I am going to make some sturdier things for the job.