Troubleshooting a Washing Machine That Won't Spin

A woman on her knees putting laundry in a washing machine.
What You'll Need
Flat Screwdriver Pliers Multimeter
What You'll Need
Flat Screwdriver Pliers Multimeter

It’s not too difficult to troubleshoot washing machine problems. When your washer won’t spin, there could be a number of possible reasons, but all you have to do is find the right one. A drum that won’t revolve and spin is one of the most common washing machine problems and in most instances, you’ll be able to find the cause without spending money on a plumber. Once you’ve found the cause, you should also be able to manage the repair yourself to help keep costs down.

Drive Belt

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Although most people will suspect a problem with the drive belt as the reason for the drum not spinning, it is not always the case. However, the drive belt is very easy to check. With the door of the washing machine open, try turning the drum. Usually, there will be some resistance, but if the belt has broken, the drum will turn more easily. If this is the case, you’ll need to open up the access panel, but before doing so, eliminate any risks of electric shock or short circuits. BEFORE REMOVING ANY PARTS OR PANEL THAT WOULD EXPOSE ELECTRICAL CONTROLS AND WIRES IN THE WASHING MACHINE, MAKE SURE THAT THE WASHER IS UNPLUGGED. You can then proceed to replace the belt. This is a relatively small and easy job.


The problem could lie with the pump. To troubleshoot this on your washing machine, you first you'll need to take off the access panel (make sure that the washing machine is unplugged first) and see if the pump can turn freely when loosening tension from the belt. If it seized and doesn't turn remove and replace the entire pump. The problem can also be with the pump belt. It could be broken or very worn. In either case, a replacement will be necessary.

Lid Switch

If the lid switch stops working, the washing machine won’t spin; in fact, it won’t work at all. To access the switch, you might need to remove the top of the machine. With the washer plugged in, depress the switch. It should click, but if it doesn’t, you can further test it by unplugging one of the wire from its terminal and measuring across both terminals with an ohmmeter or multimeter. If you don't get continuity or a 0 Ω reading while depressing the switch you’ll need to replace it.

Drive Motor

A lot of washing machines use a reversing motor. This means that motor runs in one direction for agitating and in the opposite direction for spinning. It’s not unusual for it to operate perfectly in one direction but burn out in the other. Where this is the case, you have no option but to replace the whole motor. Issues with the motor can sometimes be detected by an unusual sputtering during the washer's operation or sparking underneath the machine. If some of the motor windings have burnt out, you will also detect it by its peculiar burnt smell.

Motor Coupler

Some manufacturers use a small motor coupling made of rubber and plastic. It’s mounted to both the motor shaft and the transmission of the washing machine and can wear out or fail over time. A visual examination is the easiest way to troubleshoot this problem. If the motor coupler has failed, you’ll have to replace it. Again, this is a small and simple job.


A few brands of washing machines use a clutch to help the machine come up to the ideal spin speed. When the clutch has worn out, the drum will have problems reaching spinning speed or won’t spin at all. Where this is the case, you’ll need a technician to replace it, as the work involved is quite advanced.

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