It can be incredibly frustrating when your washing machine breaks. After all, most of us only have a finite amount of clean clothing. And who wants to deal with this problem, anyway? Thankfully, not all washing-machine problems are indications that your appliance is reaching the end of its life. In fact, many issues just require a quick repair. And here’s another bit of good news: You can prevent your washing machine from an outright breakdown if you know the signs that it’s about to malfunction—and you don’t regularly engage in a few common behaviors that can shorten its life. So, if your washing machine is exhibiting a few of the following problematic symptoms, it’s time to call a technician. If it’s exhibiting many of them, you should probably start shopping.
It makes loud and excessive noises
Does the drum of your washing machine sound like someone is literally beating it? If you’re hearing loud noises on a regular basis, it’s a bad sign, according to Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance, a Neighborly company. “This could be due to a problem with the motor or even the drum. Have a professional check these areas to determine if they are beyond repair,” he explains. Before you head to the store, check out the washing machines and other home appliances will last 10 years or more.
It uses too much or too little water
Do you notice leftover water in the drum, even after the spin cycle? Do the water levels look low, even for larger loads? Or is your washing machine leaking? These are symptoms of a larger problem. “For washers, this may mean that the water isn’t draining, the drum doesn’t fill up with water, or there is some kind of leak,” says Shimek. Water issues are a definite sign you need to speak with a technician.
It isn’t cleaning your clothes very well
If your clothing isn’t getting as clean as it once did (check the bottom of your socks), your machine may be on its way out. Do you need to run the same load for multiple cycles? You shouldn’t—and you shouldn’t brush off this problem because it’s a big one. “If it takes more than a cycle for the appliance to work effectively, there may be a deeper problem that you are not able to recognize until running the machine for an extended time,” explains Shimek.
Your utility bills have suddenly skyrocketed
If your utility bills are suddenly higher than they once were for no good reason, a broken washing machine could be the culprit. And this is something that you should deal with immediately. “Putting off appliance repair may seem like the best way to save money,” Shimek says. “But if your water or electric bills are especially high, it could be an indication that the appliance is malfunctioning beyond repair.” The bottom line: A broken washing machine can drain your bank account over time while buying a new one will cost you up-front but can save you money in the long run. And in general, some appliances are actually cheaper to replace than to fix.
You constantly overload the machine
While the reason an appliance breaks down is often completely out of your control, this one is kind of your fault. While it’s OK to sneak in an extra T-shirt or try to cram another towel into an already full load on occasion, regularly packing it with a ton of stuff to avoid doing multiple loads is a bad idea. “Don’t overload the machine,” says Shimek. “This puts a strain on the motor, which will cause it to wear out faster.” The time of the year and the location of your washing machine can also affect how it works. Here’s when your washing machine and other appliances are most likely to break down.
You use too much detergent
Using a little bit of extra detergent on a super dirty load is fine every now and then, but doing it all the time can wear out your washing machine. According to Consumer Reports, too much detergent can prolong the rinse cycle. Why is this a big deal, aside from probably increasing your electricity bill? The more you run a washer, the closer it gets to the end of its life. So, be sure to use the proper amount of detergent, especially if you have a high-efficiency (HE) model. And don’t miss these other surprising ways you’re shortening the life of your washing machine.
There’s an odor that just won’t go away
It’s hard to believe your clothing is clean when your washing machine smells dirty. And while this probably isn’t something that you particularly want to deal with, it might have nothing to do with how your washing machine is functioning. Front-loading models tend to breed mold and mildew. To prevent odors, wipe away excess moisture after the cycle is complete and keep the door open, if possible. You should also clean your washing machine on a monthly basis with hot water and bleach. However, if you do all of this but an odor still lingers, it’s time to explore buying a new model.
Your washing machine is ancient
Put simply, washing machines have a finite lifespan. “As appliances get older, they tend to break down more often or work harder, causing them to stop working,” says Shimek. According to a 2018 survey from Consumer Reports, most major appliance manufacturers say you can expect a washing machine to last for at least ten years. So if your machine keeps malfunctioning but isn’t close to approaching the decade mark, you need to have it looked at by a professional.
You have a recalled Samsung top-loading washing machine
In 2016, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall for several models of top-loading Samsung washing machines that were sold between 2011 and that year. According to ABC News, 21 people reported that their washing machines exploded. If you have a Samsung, make sure you don’t have a recalled model, and if you do, replace it immediately. So, is it time to start shopping? If so, check out this list of the most and least reliable brands for washing machines and other home appliances.