Anatomy of a washing machine

What exactly are all those bits in your washing machine?                                        

This page should help you, but first and foremost, make safety your number one concern.

Ensure the machine is unplugged before attempting to remove the lid or back or any screws.

Also remember that a washing machine today is a very complex piece of equipment with high tech digital electronics working next to water carrying pipes and hoses, the two do not mix well. If you are not sure what you are doing, call an engineer.

The pictures that follow are just a general guide, the bits in your machine may appear entirely different. click on the part listed below or just browse down and look at the pictures. 

Index

 

Solenoid valve  
Heater
Pump
carbon brush
pressure switch
module
timer
Door interlock
 

Solenoid valve.

This is what lets the water in when required, they can be single (i.e. one hose in and one out), double (one in two out) triple or even quad. Generally, on most machines, the cold water valve is a double type while the hot water one is single. Washer driers will probably have a triple or more valve as one feed is required for the drier itself.

possible failure symptoms:

Machine filling while not in use. Machine not taking in water when required.

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pressure switch.

This is an electrical switch which acts on pressure building up in the narrow pipe that connects to it. They may act on one or more levels and your machine could have more than one of these in it.

possible failure symptoms:

Machine overfilling (i.e. the water not cutting off when the correct level is reached) or the machine not taking in water and attempting to wash with no water present which may lead to other failures such as the heater.

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Heater element.

This sits (usually) in the bottom of the tub and heats the water up to the correct temperature.

possible failure symptoms:

Not heating, blowing fuses.

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Door interlock.

This ensures that the door is locked before the machine can start and safety regulations dictate that the door remains locked until there is no possibility of the drum still turning when the door is opened. This is usually achieved by a thermal type lock which needs to cool down before the door can be released. Some makes use a mechanical type lock that is connected by a cable linkage to the motor and a pecker that reacts in a certain way if the belt is moving and prevents the door from opening.

possible failure symptoms:

Machine dead, not starting, door not releasing, recurring broken door handles, blown fuses.

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Drain pump.

Discharges the water when required to.

possible failure symptoms:

No drain and spin. leaks, noises. 

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Carbon brushes.

These fit inside the motor. (there are none on induction type machines) and provide an electrical connection to the revolving part of the motor. They may come in holders as above or loose as below.

possible failure symptoms:

No spin or no wash action (i.e. drum not turning). Sparking from the motor.

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Programmer/Timer

This is the controller of the machine and tells each part what to do and receives messages from various sensors such as the pressure switch and reacts accordingly. May work in conjunction with the module and may well be replaced entirely by the module.

possible failure symptoms:

Programme sticking, not advancing, not heating, no drum action, etc, etc. 

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Module/ PCB.

This will either control the speed of the motor only or may work in conjunction with the timer and control other aspects such as heating and programme advancing. Some machines may use a module only with no programmer at all.

possible failure symptoms:

No drum action, erratic drum action, spinning when should be washing and, when it controls other functions, heating and programme not advancing faults.

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