Troubleshooting a Washing Machine That Won't Start

One issue you’ll have to deal with when troubleshooting washing machine problems is that the washer simply won’t start. This can be very frustrating, especially if you have a load of clothes waiting to be washed. In most instances, you should be able to solve the problem easily without having to call in the plumber and spending a lot of money.


If your washing machine won’t start, begin by looking at the power source. First of all, is the washer plugged in? If it is, has it tripped a circuit breaker or blown a fuse? Check and reset the breaker (or replace the fuse) if necessary, then try to start the machine again. Also make sure that the door is properly closed. Washing machines will not start when the door is still ajar.

Lid Switch

The main control for the washing machine is the switch inside the lid. If this has stopped working for some reason, your washer won’t start. It’s not especially difficult to troubleshoot this, however, you might have to open the top to access the lid switch. With the power on, depress the switch and listen for a click. If you don’t hear one, the switch has gone and will need to be replaced.

If the lid switch works but the washing machine still won’t start, check to see if your washing machine has a special fuse for it. It will usually be inside the control panel. If it’s blown, you’ll need to replace it before the washer will start.

Door Interlock

The problem could be with the door interlock. If the lights come on but the machine won’t start, this might well be the cause. This could either be the wiring that runs to the door interlock, or the door catch not activating the interlock itself. In this instance, you will need to call in a professional to trace and repair the fault.

Timer Knob

Some models of washing machine use a mechanical timer knob and won’t run until the water in the machine has filled to the selected level. If the knob doesn’t line up properly with the graphics on the control panel, you can try to troubleshoot the washing machine problem by advancing the timer a little. When you’ve done this, pull it out a little way and see if the washer will start properly.


If you’ve run several loads, one after another, without any problem but suddenly find your washing machine refuses to start, overheating could be the cause. The simple way to discover whether this is the problem is to give the machine ample time to cool down, say for a couple of hours, and then try it again. If it works fine, overheating was the case and it should not reoccur as long as you don’t do too many loads in too short of a time.