General Guide to the Use of a Washing Machine

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General Guide to the Use of a Washing Machine

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A general guide as to the general installation an use of a washing machine.


If installed on a laminate or other wood floor, put an APPLIANCE TRAY under it. See BIRBEK FLOORING (click on the “floor protection” link). Ensure that the floor is as even as possible, to prevent it moving when spinning an uneven load. Adjust the feet to get the most “solid feel” of all 4 corners of the machine on the floor. Most machines come with a plastic adjusting tool, that looks like a spanner. Avoid placing a machine very close to, or touching a wall, it may loosen tiles if it bangs against the wall while spinning an uneven load. Place a sheet of foam between the wall and the machine. It will quieten it down too.


1. Whilst we are mentioning wash loads, always try to load you machine with enough clothes to enable the “rebalancing” to work correctly. Most modern machines will sense an out-of-balance condition, and either stop, or switch to a back and forth action to attempt to untangle the wash before continuing on. However, even with good, new dampers, a large heavy shower mat on its own might NOT balance well or spin evenly. The tip here, is to add a couple of large towels to the wash, or at least wash two of the same sized items, so that the rebalancing function will have a chance to do its job, to keep the load evenly spread around the drum prior to the spin cycle..


Remove the soap dispenser regularly, and remove any softener or soap build-up, especially around the softener syphon tube. There is usually a small “cap” about the size of a thimble, that pulls off, and it should be clean and free from hardened softener, and around the pipe where it pushes on to. This reduces the tendency to leave water or softener in the softener compartment. Some AEG models have a little slide switch at the front , that can be seen when the dispenser is pulled out. Try switching that on to activate an extra rinse.


1. DRUM NOT TURNING: If everything else seems in order (belt etc.), but the main drum motor will not run, check the COMMUTATOR carefully with a torch. This is where the carbon brushes contact the rotating part of the motor, to transfer the current required to run it. Normally it is shiny blackish copper coloured around the segments, but if it is dull, then the brushes are probably worn down, and not making contact. Remove a brush to check. With some models, you can only remove and replace the brushes by removing the motor from the machine. NOTE: with some models like AEG and others, there may be 2 or 3 different motor and brush designs even across the same model. Have your brush ready to describe to the supplier, or if there is a number on it, quote that. For an excellent article on washing-machine motor brushes (aimed at HOTPOINT, but still useful background), seehttp://www.washerhelp.co.uk/spare-parts-shop/hotpoint-carbon-brushes-diagnostics.html


If you think that your main control PCB or timer may have failed, you may be able to get it tested, and if faulty, get a re-worked (repaired one) much cheaper than a new one.


FAULT CODES - most modern electronically controlled machines now have displays that may show up fault-codes from time to time. Because modern electronic components are so cheap, it does not increase the circuit costs too much to include various sensor checks at appropriate parts of the wash program for potential problems before moving on to the next step in the program. This not only protects your machine itself from damage (for instance if the machine tried to spin without pumping the water out first, or it tried to do a rinse without checking the water level was safe) but also protects your property from water damage. However, you have to bear in mind that manufacturers tend to put only the normal fault codes in the user manuals, that the owner may be able to do something about (such as E15 on some Hotpoint machines indicates not pumping out, but it could be something like coins or buttons jamming the pump. Usually most machines have a pump filter-cover that can be removed after doing the “emergency drain-off” procedure, to check for objects that can jam the pump). There may be other codes that are usually only known to the trade or engineers. Although this can be interpreted by some as protectionism, it is more likely that manufacturers want to reduce the likelyhood of machines being fixed badly, by inexperienced people, and prevent faults being cleared that could otherwise damage the machine if not done properly.There may also be “Health and Safety”, and “Liability” issues that concern manufacturers. The USA on the other hand, is very open about repair manuals and error codes, and “how to DIY fix” information, despite it being a very litigation happy country. WARNINGS: Note that some errors codes may have multiple causes, and some error signals are “doubled up”, so you can get “combined” errors codes. For instance an E15 code could be a level switch, outlet hose OR pump problem. Interpretation of more complex error codes needs care, since at best you could end up replacing the wrong part, at worst you could end up damaging your machine further. An E30 code on some Hotpoints indicates a TACHO error, but this could be just the motor brushes worn down. However, you must ALWAYS check that the tachometer magnet has not fallen off the end of the motor shaft, and is in the correct position. Some may have internal magnets, under a plastic cover, but if you have a meter, and know how to use it, you can check for the small output they create by spinning the motor by hand and checking for the 10 or 20 milliamps (around 100-200 millivolts or so) they give out. Some tacho units give very small outputs, so you might not see this on a meter, you may need an oscilloscope to see any output.


BLACK or SLIMY MOULD IN MACHINE, or AROUND DOOR SEAL: This is a fairly common problem, where either a musty odour comes from the washing machine or washer dryer (especially after a lot of low temperature wash use) or there are dark or black mould spots on or around the door seal, that can get on to clothes. There is no component that can fail to cause a bad odour from inside a washer. In most cases, it will be from some external source, or the way the machine is used. The major culprits are the low temperature liquid detergents, especially the BIOLOGICAL ones, as these tend to promote mould growth,especially if the door is left closed after washing. The combination of this, plus using a liquid softener will also promote soap sludge and mould over time. Since there is no chlorine bleaching agents in liquid powder it has a tendency leave the machine smelling a bit after a while. It is also prone to over-dosing, which can lead to a congealed mass of hardened detergent in the inner or outer drum which, in bad cases can actually corrode the drum shaft. The cure is to do what is called a "Maintenance Wash" (a boil wash with no clothes or detergent in) at least once per month, preferably twice (add a cup of Washing Soda crystals in the empty drum as well, this will help dissolve any stubborn mould and soap scum). Also, try to use powder (for Whites on the high temperatures or boil washes, not colours, so you know it should have bleaching agents in) as often as possible. You can also use dishwasher cleaner or Washing Soda Crystals occasionally, both are very effective at cleaning this. The Waitrose Dishwasher Cleaner is about half the cost of the Finish product, and I have occasionally seen a similar product specifically for washing machines by Buster (Challs Ltd), but I am not sure if it is still available. I notice that HOTPOINT user manuals (and maybe others) now recommend a Maintenance Wash every few weeks. 1. TO REMOVE MOULD FROM THE DOOR SEAL: use rubber gloves and some eye protection, and use thick bleach and an old toothbrush to clean around the door seal. Don’t forget that most door-seals have a complex shape, and the inner and outer parts will part slightly to show a large groove between the two halves. This is where buttons, coins, broken zip parts, and odd DIY items like nuts and bolts can lodge, so always check in there, in case objects like these are causing marks on clothes as well. Follow this up with a “Maintenance-Wash” (see 10 above). NOTE: sometimes if black mould has been on the rubber for a while, it may not come out, even after treating with bleach. If it is really bad, and won’t budge, you may have to have the door-gasket replaced.


ALWAYS DRY THE DOOR GLASS AND GASKET WHEN THE WASH IS FINISHED, AND KEEP THE DOOR OPEN WHEN NOT IN USE, AND YOU ARE GOING OUT. Obviously if there are young children are about, this is NOT a good idea, but if you are going away, ALWAYS keep the door open. This will help prevent the formation of black mould (See 10 and 11 above), that tends to form when low-temperature (NON-BLEACH) liquid detergents are used, and there is moisture left around the seal and glass, and there is reduced oxygen with the door shut.


COLOUR-CATCHERS: these are a very good, and effective product, and my wife has used them for several years. However, like any small item placed in the wash, there IS a likelihood that it MIGHT find its way into the pump area. Each sheet is like a very small handkerchief, but a bit thinner, so if you have had small socks and hankies go down into the pump, just be aware of this. Most of the time, the sheets just find their way on to the bottom of the porthole glass or on to the rubber. If you loose sight of it, check it is there in the wash after your wash cycle has finished (check in sleeves and pockets as well). HINT: Place the COLOUR-CATCHERS in-between the clothes initially, rather than on top, as it will then spend less time around the port-hole and gasket area. It can, in rare circumstances, be pushed by larger items, as they are agitated, down the gasket gap. If you DO lose one, be prepared to go through your drain-off procedure (check your manual), and check/clear the pump. Most modern machines will check for slow empty (pump-off) cycle, and give you an error-code (for AEG, for example, often an F2 is indicated). Another method is to use one of the SOCKIEholders, mentioned on the FAQ page, and push the ends of a COLOUR CATCHER SHEET into the slots. If you do not have these (and they might not be available any more), use a nylon mesh bag, for use in washing machines (the type you would put socks or tights in), and place them in there. They could go in with any socks or tights you have for washing as well of course! I see that AMAZON shop-fronts sell the large mesh bags, as low as £3.25 at the moment (check HERE). There are also 5 small bags available HERE, useful for separating wash load types, but you may find that knotted old pillowcases probably work just as well.


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