Why Your Washing Machine is Tripping the Electrics

washing machine that has tripped the electrics

At some point in your washing machine’s life, it may break down which can be stressful.

When a washing machine starts to trip your electrics, it can be difficult to know exactly what the problem is.

We are going to walk through the most common reasons why a machine would cause your electrics to trip the circuit breaker.

It’s common for machines to develop electrical faults, but sometimes the problem can be something different like mechanical failure or a leak somewhere in the washing machine.

Let’s go through some of the reasons your machine might be causing electrical faults in your home.

The wash heater

The heating element on a washing machine is responsible for making sure that the water gets up to temperature during a wash cycle.

The downfall of most heating elements is that they are prone to having low insulation over time. This means that electricity is leaking from the heater which will trip your electrics.

If you have access to an electrical multimeter, you can test the insulation of the heating element to help you diagnose the fault with your machine.

washing machine heating element being electrically tested

In most cases, if you can’t test the heating element and deem it to be faulty, it’s worth replacing the element and testing the machine.

Washing machine heating elements are usually pretty economical and are an easy repair to carry out.

If you are able to access the heating element before ordering a new one, sometimes you can diagnose a faulty heating element by looking at it.

washing machine heating element being removed

Heating elements that have failed will sometimes have bulges or clear breaks in the element.

The drive motor has failed

Washing machine motors work hard every time you run your washing machine. This means that they are more likely to develop faults than other parts of your machine.

Different faults with your motor might be causing the electrics to trip in your home.

Some of the reasons a motor causes the electrics to trip:

  • The motor has low insulation
  • Excess carbon from the carbon brushes surrounding the motor
  • Faulty wiring from the motor connection block
  • The copper windings on the motor have worn down
washing machine carbon brushes being replaced

The best way to repair a faulty motor that you suspect is tripping the electrics is to replace it altogether.

If you have recently seen sparks under your washing machine, it’s definitely an indication of a failing motor.

If you’re looking for a more economical way of repairing a washing machine motor without replacing it entirely, you could try the following steps:

  1. Try cleaning up the motor so there’s no excess carbon and sand down the contacts
  2. Replace the carbon brushes
  3. Inspect and replace all faulty wiring
  4. Swap the copper motor windings

Apart from that, you’re looking at replacing the entire drive motor. It’s definitely worth looking for spare parts that have been stripped down from a faulty machine before buying a new motor.

A leak in the machine

It’s pretty obvious that water and electricity don’t mix well, but you would expect your washing machine to be able to retain water, right?

Well, unfortunately, washing machines aren’t always the best at stopping water from escaping.

If your washing machine is suffering from a leak, then the water could be dripping down onto an electrical part of the machine and causing your electrics to trip.

washing machine leaking from drain pump being mopped

Inspecting a washing machine for a leak can be tricky, but if you know all the right places to look for a leak on a washing machine, it makes it much easier.

Luckily, we have put together a guide on how to find a leak in a washing machine.

The drain pump

Washing machines rely heavily on the drain pump every cycle. It makes sure that the dirty water from inside the drum makes its way out to your drains.

You should visually inspect your machine for evidence of any leaks before swapping the drain pump. If water is touching the drain pump while the machine is on, it will trip the electrics.

Washing machine drain pumps have copper windings to help transfer electrical current, meaning that they sometimes have low insulation, causing your electrics to trip.

If you suspect that the pump is faulty, then you should replace it with a new one.

Replacing the drain pump on your washing machine is fairly straightforward and can be done on most washing machines. We go into a little depth about this in our guide on what to do if your washing machine is not draining.

Check the mains filter

When you plug your washing machine into the plug socket in your house, the electrical current travels down the power lead and through to the main control board.

Before it reaches the control board, it has to be filtered by the electrical mains interference filter. The mains filter on a washing machine can break down and cause all kinds of electrical faults.

washing machine interference filter being replaced by engineer

Usually, by visually inspecting the filter, you can see if it is showing any signs of being faulty. You should be looking out for any bulges or burn marks.

It might be a good idea to swap the mains cable if it has become trapped or kinked at any point because this can also cause your electrics to trip.