Washer repair is either a 10 minute job or it is a job for a professional, usually it is only a 10 minute job to fix any washing machine, and it is always worth trying.

Nine out of ten washer repairs involve a blocked pump. Unblocking a pump does not even need to be messy and it involves no tools whatsoever.

Washer Repair #1 Finding the Pump Access Cover

Automatic washing machines almost always have their pump access covers on the bottom front panel, sometimes behind a removable plastic kick panel.

Refitting this plastic kick panel afterwards is the toughest part of the job. Make a careful note how it fits, where the clips are and the sequence needed to remove the panel. You will need to refit it in the reverse order. The panel is not very strong and will break if you are at all rough in taking it off.

Washer Repair #2 Emptying the Water Out

Washing machine pumps always get blocked when the washer is full of water, in the middle of a wash.

You can get the water out quickly and messily, just by opening the door, but there is a better way.

Pull the machine away from the wall and unplug it, because water and electricity do not mix well. Tip the washing machine backwards, until it is stable and you can see no water above the door level inside the drum.

Turn the control dial to OFF and press any RESET button.

Wait until the safety interlock on the door times out, usually one minute.

Have a large towel on the floor, just in case any water spills out when you open the door.

Have a large bowl ready to put the half-washed clothes into.

Open the door, fish out any clothes and put them into the large bowl.

Have a second large bowl ready. Using a plastic jug, empty the water out of the washing machine into the second bowl. Empty the bowl when it is half full of dirty water. Continue until you can get no more water out with the plastic jug.

Use a hand towel to remove the rest of the water in the drum, squeezing it out into the bowl.

Washer Repair Step #3 Removing the Pump Access Cover

Have another empty bowl underneath the pump access cover. (The washing machine is still tilted backwards at this point.)

Unscrew the plastic pump access cover; you should be able to do this without using any tools. You will get up to two quarts of water coming out when you unscrew it, so be ready to catch it with your bowl.

Washer Repair #4 Unblocking the Pump

There will still be water inside the pump access cover. Put two fingers in and feel around. At the bottom of the 2 inch wide shaft you should be able to feel a plastic propeller. This is what moves the water in the pump.

Try to turn the propeller with your finger. If it turns freely, then your problem is something else and it is time to call a repair man.

You will almost certainly feel something wrapped around the propeller. It might be a piece of string or a hair elastic. Sometimes the "Keep it White" or "Stop Color Run" type cloths will tangles around the propeller.

Try to untangle it with your fingers, or pull the obstructing object out by pinching it between your fingers. If your fingers are too big, ask someone with small fingers to have a go.

Only as a last resort should you try using any tools to untangle the propeller, because it is only plastic and is very easily damaged. Tools to try would be a crochet hook or a piece of wire coat hanger bent up into a hook at the end.

If you cannot untangle the pump propeller you will need to call in a repair man, but you can usually manage it yourself.

Sometimes you will find coins and broken credit cards inside the pump housing while you are feeling around.

Check that the propeller will rotate freely and screw the pump access cover back on, finger tight, no tools.

Washer Repair #5 Checking for Leaks

Stand the washing machine upright again. Just let it fall slowly back down from its tilted back position. Dry the floor and dry your hands thoroughly.

Put the washer plug back into the power socket and turn the control to a quick rinse cycle. If it is going to leak it will do so as soon as the water goes into the machine. You dried the floor so you can now see if it is leaking.

If it is leaking, try giving the pump access cover another quarter turn, again, only use finger pressure. This should stop the leak. If it continues to leak, then pump the water out, remove the pump access cover again and wrap PTFE plumbers' tape around the threads before you screw it back in. Screw it in again and retest.

Washer Repair #6 Putting Everything Back

All that remains is to refit the plastic kick plate that hid the pump access cover. Look at it very carefully. Tilt the washing machine backwards again so you can see what you are doing more easily.

Picture again exactly how the kick plate came off. Look for the hidden clips that it fits into (that is why you tilted it backwards again). Insert it into the clips in the reverse order that it came out of them.

Gently stand the washer back upright again and push it back into its original position. It might be a tight fit between two kitchen units, but be careful not to dent the front steel panel. Push it gently with your knees and use your hands to steer it in.

A final wipe of the floor and you are finished.

Washer Repair Conclusion

There are other things that can go wrong, but anything more complicated than a blocked pump requires skills and tools that the average person will not have. If your washing machine does need a repair man, the chances are it is time to replace it, because parts and labor very quickly add up to half the cost of a new machine.