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Washing Machine Maintenance

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Washing Machine Maintenance
A few simple steps can go long way in efficient washing machine maintenance. Check out our guide to washing machine appliance maintenance.

A well maintained Washing machine gives consistent reliable wash year after year. In that process, it can consume less energy - saving you resources. In this page, we have poured over hundreds of pages of user manuals, testimonials, repair manuals and other relevant pages - to offer you actionable tips on the maintenance of the Washing Machines.

Washing machine - Energy consumption

Washing machines consume energy as needed and depend on factors such as wash cycle, temperature of the water and the preset temperature to which the internal heater was set. It can be as low as 50 W when only the water extraction pump is running after every wash to about 1000 W or even more when the heater is operational.

  • The water temperature may be adjusted suitably; lowering the water temperature to warm wash and rinse will make the clothes clean and energy bills could be reduced.

  • Frequent small loads use more energy; it is better to wait for a full load before running the washing machine.

  • To avoid wasting energy and over drying clothes, use the automatic dry cycle installed in the washing machines.

Washing machines are complex machines - they use many motors for various roles, solenoid valves to control the flow of water, heater elements and plenty of plumbing connections. Surprisingly they require fewer maintenance routines these days than earlier days. Feed the machine with clean power ( free from voltage fluctuations) and clean water for a long trouble free service. Water borne impurities not only stain your clothes - but also clog your machines.

Washing machines sometimes use squirrel cage fractional horse power induction motors. This means they don't use carbon brushes which will wear out. They have good torque and generally require very little attention in their life time. But the starting and the running capacitors age and may cause poor starting as the first sign of trouble. Check the weight of the load. If the motor hums and does not rotate, switch off the power. If you continue to feed the power you will end up ruining the motor. Do not exceed the load under any circumstance as it may overload the motor or the coupling. Some machines use machined couplings which do not take kindly to excess weight.

On the other hand, some washing machines use universal motors for better speed control. Some use direct drive drum system which eliminates quite a bit of vibration and noise. These motors by themselves are reliable and last a long time, their control electronics are not so hardy in some cases. It is essential that you do NOT over load your machine as these power electronics have poor tolerance.

Electronics Control Modules form the brain for the washing machine. They orchestrate various components as per built in directions and interact with the user directives. They can beep and indicate their status in a Light Emitting Diode (LED) panel or LCD panel. They are generally well protected against the ingress of dust or moisture and require little attention. They use proprietary chips which can be sourced only from the original manufacturer. They fail drastically sometimes which results in complete malfunctioning of the unit. You need to call the dealer who will replace the entire control module. All electronics have a common weakness - EMP (electromagnetic pulse) and ESD (electrostatic discharge). EMP can enter through long cables in times of inclement weather or can be injected through mains lines. ESD can come from caressing the fur of a cat on a dry day. You can protect your sensitive electronics from the electrical transients by using a Surge Suppressor before the machines. You can protect the electronics from static discharge by grounding yourself - just touch the metal body of the washing machine before you tap out instructions on the user panel.

  • Most washing machine hoses are made of reinforced rubber. As they get older, the resiliency may be lost and the hose might burst. It is better to get into a good preventive maintenance practice to check these hoses from time to time for any sign of wear or weakness.

  • It is safer to turn off the water supply to the washer whenever you are traveling away for extended periods of time as a precautionary measure.

  • The tube of the washing machine needs to be lifted up periodically and checked for collection of lint. Sometimes lint gets collected during the wash cycle and goes down the drain during the drain cycle. There are times when lint settles near the center of the agitator in which case one needs to lift the tube and clean it periodically. Some machines have lint filers on the top of the tub, which need to be slid out, cleaned off and reinserted. Cleaning the lint also helps save energy and allows clothes to dry faster.

  • If the washing machine rattles when it runs, it means the machine needs leveling. Tilt the machine slightly and adjust the screw on the feet until the machine is level with all four feet touching the ground. These days most washing machines come with 'self adjusting' rear legs. These legs could be set by tilting the entire machine forward onto its front legs and then setting the machine back down. This way the legs should adjust automatically.

  • It is safer to replace the drive belt of the washing machine if it shows any signs of wear.

  • Never overload the washing machine with clothes. This may contribute to shortening the life of the machine by reducing the washer and hose life.

Cleaning of washing machines

  • The washing machine has either painted steel or porcelain coated steel cabinet. It is prudent to clean the surface of the machine with little detergent and a damp rag. In case the surface of the machine is porcelain then use little non-abrasive cleaner for stubborn stains.

  • All front loading machines use a special type of rubber gasket to keep the inner drum air tight. As a result, front loading washing machines tend to develop mold and mildew unless cleaned well periodically. Use a towel to clean the inner drum and the rubber gaskets regularly.

  • Sometimes it is useful to clean the interior by running an empty wash cycle with one cup of baking soda

  • Check your user manual about running empty wash cycles occasionally. Look for manufacturer recommendations about residue busting washer cleaners and use them as per instructions on the product.

  • If the washing machine develops rust, it is better to remedy this situation using appropriate products that are available in appliance repair shops or hardware stores. This rust product should not be mixed with any other sort of cleaner or bleach.

Disclaimer: This series of articles contains general information on home maintenance of household machinery. This is not an exhaustive list of service procedures. A lay user can only attend to general maintenance with limited skills and tools. All electrical and electronic machines operate at lethal voltages and can CAUSE serious damage or even electrocution or shock hazard to self and home. It is positively dangerous to even attempt to repair any electrical machine without the required skills or knowledge. Always refer servicing to qualified technicians or the dealer. For detailed troubleshooting refer to owner's manual and service manual if available. The information contained herein is only for general reference and does not carry any warranty implied or otherwise. You use the information provided here at your own risk.

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