Why won't my washing machine spin or drain?

Updated February 21, 2017

The invention of the washing machine is one of the most significant developments in modern history. The washing machine transformed what was once a tedious labour-intensive and time-consuming chore into a relatively quick and easy task requiring minimal thought and effort: load the machine, add detergent, select settings, push start and go. The efficiency, convenience, and reliability of washing machines are often taken for granted --- until something goes wrong and you are forced to troubleshoot and pinpoint the operational problems preventing the machine from spinning and draining.

Spin Problems Related to Lid

The washing machine lid may not be closed. If the lid is not firmly closed, the machine has a safety device that will shut itself off. See if debris or other items are blocking the close mechanism. If this is the case, once you have cleared the obstacle, you have to push the start button for the machine to restart itself. Possibly the safety device itself may be malfunctioning.

Spin Problems Related to Settings and Hose

Examine the machine's settings to ensure that the speed selector switch is not halfway between two different speeds, and ensure the washer is not set on the soak cycle. Also inspect the water level control to see if it is working properly. If the machine makes a humming sound when the tub is full, an object may be lodged in the drain.

Other Spin Problems

Examine the washing machine's belts, which could be loose or broken. Also the drive pulley could be malfunctioning, which means it would not turn the drive belt. Some washing machines have a reversing motor, and when it is defective, it will only spin in one direction. The drive coupler could be worn out. The coupler connects the motor to the transmission. If you see black soot under the washer, the coupler is either damaged or worn out. In addition, there could be issues with the transmission, or the clutch could be worn out.

Drain Problems Related to Hose

See if there is a kink in the drain hose. A clothing item could be caught in the hose, or there may be excessive debris blocking it. To be on the safe side, disconnect the hose from the outlet and clean both the hose and outlet.

Other Drain Problems

The pump pulley may be frozen. Remove the pump, and try to manually rotate the pulley. If it is difficult to turn, you need to replace the pulley. Possibly the machine may have a broken belt or a broken drive coupling.

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About the Author

Terri Williams began writing professionally in 1997, serving as media manager for a large nonprofit organization where she also edited books and created promotional content. She has written extensively on business communication, ethics, leadership, management, education and health. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.