Appliance Repair

How to Fix a Clothes Washing Machine That Won’t Start


Actuator & Lid Switch

On a top-load washing machine, the lid switch is a safety feature that prevents the motor circuit from operating while the lid is open. The water inlet valve circuit is also controlled in some models. The washer may not start if the lid switch fails. When the lid is closed, the lid switch is normally located beneath the main top with a projection on the lid or a pin attached to the lid that actuates the switch.


How to test the lid switch on a washing machine with a multi-meter:


  • Before you begin, disconnect your appliance from the power source, and then remove the top panel or cabinet to gain access to the switch.
  • Once you’ve found the switch, double-check that it’s being activated mechanically and that no levers or actuators are damaged or stuck. If they are, the switch is probably broken.
  • Remove the switch from the washer to check for continuity if the switch is activated but no power is supplied to the motor or water valve circuits.
  • Touch the probes to the terminals with your multimeter set to Rx1, then press and hold the switch button down. A reading of zero should be received.
  • You’ll need to replace the lid switch if you don’t get this reading.


Door Switch & Strike

The door switch, as well as the door lock and strike, are two safety features found on front load washing machines. Before the washer will start, the door switch must be closed and the door lock must be activated on most models.


How to test the door switch and strike on a washing machine with a multi-meter:


  • The switch is usually found in the washing machine’s door frame, but it could also be part of the door lock assembly. Begin by visually inspecting the strike to ensure that it is engaged with the door lock assembly and that the door is still shut. Any signs of damage or cracking should also be looked for.
  • To access the switch and test it for continuity, unplug the washing machine and remove the front panel. To test it, remove the switch once you have access to it.
  • Place the probes on the switch’s terminals with a multi-meter set to the Rx1 setting; you should get an infinity reading. Press and hold the switch’s button while
  • keeping the probes on the terminals; your reading should change to zero or close to zero.
  • If your results differ from the ones listed above, you’ll need a new door switch and strike.

Start Switch & Timer

On some top-load washers, the start switch is integrated into the timer and is activated by pulling out on the timer knob. The switch can be tested for continuity with a multi-meter, even though it is not normally available as a separate part.


How to test the start switch and timer in a washing machine with a multi-meter:


  • Because you will be working with electrical components, disconnect your washing machine from the power source.
  • To locate the switch, remove the appliance’s cabinet. Remove it from the washer with care once you’ve found it. Grasping the metal connectors rather than the wires themselves to remove the wires.
  • Set your multimeter to Rx1, place the probes on the timer contacts (as shown in your wiring diagram), and press and hold the switch’s button down. You should get a reading of zero or nearly zero if you’re testing for continuity.
  • You’ll need to replace the start switch if you don’t get this reading.



Check the timer knob to ensure that it is properly engaging the shaft that operates the switch on models that use a start switch that is part of the timer. Normal wear can cause the knob to slip off the shaft and prevent the switch mechanism from engaging.


How to inspect the knobs on your washing machine:


  • Before you begin, unplug your washing machine.
  • To get to the back of the timer, remove the back panel or cabinet.
  • When you’ve found the timer, visually inspect the shaft to make sure the knob engages the timer when you pull it out and push it back in.
  • You’ll need replacement knobs if it doesn’t engage.


Drive Motor

During the cleaning cycle, all washing machines have a motor that spins and agitates the clothes. Many top-loading washers have reversing motors, which spin in one direction for agitation and another for spinning and draining. The motor may be defective if it does not start but makes a humming or buzzing noise.


How to test a washing machine drive motor with a multi-meter:


  • Before you begin, make sure your appliance is turned off because you will be working with electrical components, and then remove the washer’s cabinet.
  • To test the drive motor, locate it and remove it. When disconnecting the wires from the motor, take care not to pull directly on the wires. Lightly grasp the metal connectors when removing them.
  • Touch the terminals of the motor with the probes of a multimeter set to Rx1 on the Rx1 setting. You should get a reading of zero or close to zero if you’re testing for continuity.
  • Touch the other probe to the bare metal housing of the motor while the other probe is still touching the terminal. This is a ground connection test, and you should not get any results from it.
  • If the results of your tests differ from those listed above, you’ll need a new drive motor.


Main Control Board

The main control board on electronic control models operates the individual components of the washer, such as the fill circuit and the drive motor, in the same way that a manual timer model does. The washer may not start if the control board does not provide the proper voltage to the drive motor, fill valve, drain motor, or door lock. Most washers have a complicated main control board that is difficult to diagnose without the proper test equipment and procedures. Visually inspect the control for electrical arcing, as well as burned or damaged components on the board.


How to inspect the main control board in a washing machine:


  • Because you’ll be working with the electrical components of your washer, make sure it’s turned off before you start.
  • To inspect the main control board, locate it and remove it. It’s usually right behind the control pad, and you’ll have to take out all or part of the washer’s cabinet to get to it.
  • Look for signs of wear, damage, cracking, or burning on the control board.
  • You’ll need a new main control board if you find any of the above. When replacing a control board, be cautious because burned components can sometimes be caused by external component failures. Before installing a new control board, these will need to be identified and corrected.


If you feel overwhelmed and need an appliance expert, give us a call.


Smart Living Home Repair Services

244 Madison Avenue , #1019

New York, NY 10016

(888) 758-9103


Roberta Howarth