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A detailed explanation of the fault is required.

Washing machine repair, dishwasher repair, cooker repair, tumble dryer repair, fridge repair, freezer repair, help and technical advice.

Do it right

This is a free e-mail service, if you supply sketchy information in this form I will not reply. Please take the time and help me to help you . That said, what better way to start than to explain the basic operations of certain domestic appliances, starting with:

washing machines

Do you know the stages of a wash cycle? In order for a service engineer to pin down the fault on a washing machine, he must first be aware of the 'stages of a basic wash cycle'. Not only that, he must also be able to recognise these stages. This process is not difficult and is a vital part of being able to correctly detect faults.

It will also help you to provide me with sound information that will help me to accurately diagnose your appliance fault.

stages of a wash cycle

The stages of a wash cycle can be summed up as follows:

  • Stage 1 - machine fills with wash water
  • Stage 2 - machine wash clothes
  • Stage 3 - Machine drain off wash water
  • Stage 4 - Machine fills with rinse water
  • Stage 5 - Machine rinse clothes
  • Stage 6 - Machine drain off rinse water and spin

In order for a washing machine to complete its wash cycle it has to go through all 6 stages without any problems. If there is a problem, it will not complete the wash cycle. You should know which stage it was at when it stopped.

You may ask yourself, how can I be expected to know that when I have not been watching it as it goes through the stages? The answer to that is, use your common sense.

If the washing machine stopped with water still in it, you should be looking to see if the water is soapy and dirty. Can it drain off (choose drain/spin position and start) that water? Can the machine start again? Can it spin? does the door lock? Can it take in water again?

These questions can not only tell you the stage the machine was at, they can also tell you what the problem is likely to be. Further test could then be carried out to confirm the fault.

Narrowing down the fault by the process of elimination is a very useful skill. This skill can be honed by a deeper understanding of each of the six stages. We will proceed to look at each stage in more detail.

Stage 1

Load the machine, add soap and conditioner, close door, select program and start.

Door will lock and machine start to fill with water. When correct water level is reached, machine will stop taking in water and start the wash cycle.

Stage 2

After approximately 10 minutes, machine will start to heat water. After another 5 - 10 minutes, listen carefully in between drum rotation and you will hear the water heating, a bit like how a kettle sound before it boils. This continues untill the selected wash temprature is reached. The machine continues through the rest of the main wash.

Stage 3

At the end of the main wash, the machine will attemp to drain off the wash water. If successful, it will then do a mini spin to force out most of the wash water.

Stage 4

The machine start filling with rinse water. The water intake may be through a different solonoid (valve) to that of the main wash. When correct water level is reached, machine will stop taking in water and start to rinse.

Stage 5

The rinse may lasts for five or more minutes then it will drain the water off, do a mini spin then fill with water again for a second rinse. The rinse cycle may repeat for a third and a fourth time. The machine will take the conditioner on the very last rinse.

Stage 6

At the end of the final (when it takes the conditioner) rinse, the machine will drain the water. When all the water is out of the machine, it will start its final spin. At the end of the spin and after a minute or two, the door will release.

The question now is are you any clearer as to what is wrong with your Washing machine ?


This is a one off email service. So, it is important that you report clearly what the problems are so that you get a correct first time assessment.

In order to make a correct assessment the fault has to be a real one, not indirect, not intermittent. If the fault is intermittent let it develope into a real fault before you contact me because until then, there is nothing anyone can do.

Try and explain the fault to me so that I can imagine it just as if I was there with you. Example, simply saying the machine stopped in mid cycle is not good enough. It would be nice to know also if the machine has water in or if it is empty. The more information you give me the more I am likely to correctly assess the fault.

Do not report an appliance as being dead if there is the slightest signs of life!

If the machine is tripping the electrics, I would like to know where in the cycle it is doing this so that I can narrow down the likely cause.

If the machine is noisy I would like to know when do you get the noise, is it during the wash, during the spin or all the time ? If you turn the revolving drum by hand, is the noise still there?

There are a few misconceptions to do with spinning and draining. Many people can not tell the difference between spining and draining and do not realise that they are two separate actions. I hope the following will set the record straight.

drain Is before spin. Yes, the machine has to drain off the water before it will spin! The water is drained off by a drain pump. Once the water has drained off, the machine is able to go into a fast spin.


The spin will force the remainder of the water out of the clothes while the pump drains it away. The motor causes the drum to spin.

It should be quite clear to see that a washing machine has a motor for turning the drum and spining and a pump for draining the water away.

So, if at the end of the cycle the clothes is sopping wet but no water is in the drum, you have a spin fault.

on the other hand, if the cycle was aborted because it failed to drain, causing water to be still in the drum, you have a drain fault.


Normally, you would load the dishwasher, close the door, press start and walk away. Some time later a beep may tell you that the dishes are done. Then one day, the beep was not to say the dishes are done but to say that the dishwasher had a fault.

So now you find yourself on this page trying to figure out how best to discribe the problem with your dishwasher. Have no fear, this task will become very easy when you study The stages of a dishwasher as set out below.

  • Stage 1 - Dishwasher drains
  • Stage 2 - Dishwasher fills with water
  • Stage 3 - Dishwasher heats and wash
  • Stage 4 - Dishwasher drains main wash water
  • Stage 5 -Dishwasher fills wash and heat
  • Stage 6 - Dishwasher drains

In order to understand what a dishwasher is doing you have to rely largely on sound. Listen carefully and you will be able to differentiate between the sound of draining, filling and washing. You can open the dishwasher door at any time if you wish to make checks. Simply close the door to resume. The 6 stages below will help you to be in tune with your dishwasher so that you can better understand what is going on.

Stage 1

Load the dishwasher, close the door and press start. The very first noise you here is the noise of draining. This is the start of every dishwasher. The drain noise will go on for a minute or more. Then the drain noise will change to ...

Stage 2

.. that of water rushing into the dishwasher. The noise of water rushing into the dishwasher will fade as the wash pump kicks in and start the wash cycle. If you were to open the door a minute or two into the wash cycle, you should see the spray arms coming to rest as the dishwasher stops. Close the door again and the dishwasher will continue with the wash cycle.

Stage 3

Depending on the type of dishwasher and the chosen wash cycle, the dishwasher may do one or two pre-washes. after each pre-wash the dishwasher would drain (listen for that drain noise) then fill again (listen for the water rushing in) before going on to do the main wash. The heater will heat the water during the main wash. If you were to open the door five to ten minutes into the main wash, you should see steam coming from the dishwasher. close the door again and the dishwasher will continue with the wash cycle.

Stage 4

It depends on the chosen wash cycle as to how long the main wash cycle will last. At the end of this wash cycle the dishwasher will drain off the wash water (listen for that draining noise) which can go on for two or more minutes before it moves on to the rinse cycle. You can open the door at any point to check what is hapening. Close the door to continue with the program.

Stage 5

The dishwasher will start the rinse cycle by taking in fresh water (listen for the water rushing in) The wash pump will start to wash the dishes as the water is heated by the heater. At this stage the water will get as hot as the chosen wash temprature. After a period of rinsing ...

Stage 6

.. the water will drain away (listen for that draining noise) and the drying period will commence. If the door was to be opened at this stage, steam would rush from the dishwasher.

The question now is are you any clearer as to what is wrong with your dishwasher ?

If your dishwasher suddenly stopped in mid cycle, I would like to know if water is still in it or not.

How do you tell if the dishwasher has water or not? open the door and look. If you cant see it, feel with your hand

A dishwasher can not wash if it has no water in it.not washing I would like to know if it filled with water. How can you tell if it filled with water?

After a few minutes of starting a program you should hear water entering the dishwasher. Within 5 minutes of starting a program sufficient water should be in the machine. Open the door and check water level. It should be approximately 2 inches above the immediate surface.

If the dishwasher is washing but the dishes are not coming out clean I would like to know if it is washing hot or cold. How can you tell if it is washing hot? Open the door at different stages (every 15 minutes) during the wash. If it is washing hot you will eventually notice steam flowing from the dishwasher.

These are the kind of pointers that will help me to determine the likely cause of the problem and how best to proceed.

Electric Cookers

If the main oven is not getting hot I would like to know if the fan is working. How can you tell if the fan is working? Fan assisted ovens has two fans. One is situated at the top to keep the looms and other electrical circuits cool. The other is situated in the main oven. Open the door and look towards the back , the fan is located behind the back panel. You can normally see this fan spinning when the oven is switched on.

Tumble Dryers

Most dryer faults are: Dryer tumbling but not getting hot. If your dryer is not tumbling maybe it is because the belt is broken. It would be nice to know if the belt is broken or still in tact. You would have to take the lid off to confirm this, if you are able.

Real faults

I have many examples of reported faults that are not real because it is caused by the customer. The one that springs to mind is that of the faulty dishwasher.

The reported fault:

The dishwasher does not desolve the soap and the dishes end up with stripe marks.


My first observation when I looked inside the dishwasher was that the stainless steel internal was covered in a white film. "That is caused by a lack of salt", I said.

"But I use 3 in 1 as recommended, she said"


Simply using 'three in one' in an area of hard water is just not enough.

You must still add salt to the salt container to prevent limescale build up on the stainless steel inside.

Undesolved soap

My main concern though, was with the soap tablet not desolving.

This was a mistery as the water intake was at the correct level and the spray arms turned freely.

The water was being sufficiently agitated, so why is the soap not desolving?

Hanging Freshner

Well after taking the dishwasher apart and checking everything, I found the culprit. The customer had bought one of these hanging dishwasher fresheners.

Nothing wrong with that but she decided to hang it from the top tray, right in front of the soap dispensor door!

The door jammed up against this freshner so as not to allow water to flush the soap out. The soap streaked down the side of the door but never made it into the water.

I had to be there to solve this one. Please don't pull tricks like this, I may never be able to solve it!

Fault finding at its best!