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Bizarre washing machine problem

Since I have an endoscope camera, and there's a machine with unseen secrets... yeah, you could guess what was coming after the fifth word, right? ☺


Sliding the camera down the front I passed the thermostat, which is definitely above the water line, and carried on until I reached the bottom.
A bit of jiggling, and I found the rubber seal for the drain. A bit of flexible tubing leads to the extraction pump.

The drain
The drain.

Looking the other way, I could see the heater element. There was some limescale evident, but I've seen far worse.

The heater
The heater.

I wasn't able to look at the heater element itself, as the camera is not very controllable. At a guess, I would say that it would spread out to the sides, to bend around back towards the centre, like a sort of M shape, in order to increase the surface area for better heating.

Finally, I took a look down the sides. I did think I was recording a video, but it's been a long time since I used the AN98 app and I forgot how awful the UI was.

Talking of awful, I did capture a photo. This horrorshow is the outer drum (upper/left) and the inner drum (lower/right).

The left spindle
Looking towards the left spindle.

Admittedly, the camera's peculiar focal properties might be making it look far worse than it really is - because it looks like a photo of a part of the Titanic.


I decided to run a cleaning cycle. For this, I put in a litre of household (white) vinegar and set the machine to do a hot load with the drum empty. I set the dial to two stops to before the "dirty 60°C" setting, aiming for around 65°C or so. I wasn't going to run the machine to a 90 degree wash.

As it was heating, I made a quick'n'dirty hack of my ESP32Cam software to instead fetch a snapshot from the tilt-and-turn IP camera once per second. That's because ESP32Cam did most of what I wanted, namely fetch a JPEG from a camera on the LAN and display it in a window, so I just bodged a copy to talk to the IPCam instead.

When I saw the controller knob was in the horizontal position, I knew that heating had finished. So I went and took a temperature reading. 54.1°C. The water must be really cold, it had been heating for ages.

I set the controller dial back to the 40°C and restarted the machine. I went to the Linky and checked consumption. It was measuring around 2300VA, suddenly dropping down to around 400VA.

Back to the machine. Stopped and lid opened. The only smell was an overpowering smell of vinegar. Hot vinegar hits you right in the eyeballs. No burning or anything like that.

Lid closed, machine restarted. I could hear a gentle woosh as the element heated the water, not unlike the noise a kettle makes.
Then a soft click, and no more woosh.

Ah, okay. Now that's bizarre.


It would appear that the thermal cut-out that is supposed to trip at around 87°C (for the ninety degree cycle) is apparently tripping at about 54°C.
It's unlikely to be a safety mechanism in the heater itself, it isn't that encrusted with limescale. Besides, the schematic makes no mention of such a thing.

Well, okay, it's not the end of the world. Apart from a cleaning cycle (that really ought to be at least 60 to nuke bacteria, though I think the vinegar will have done a good job) I am unlikely to ever need it hotter.

Makes me wonder if at some stage somebody attempted to fix the machine with a part salvaged from elsewhere? I don't really see a fault-case where a sealed thermostat would decide to trip out thirty three degrees cooler.


The first rinse (which emptied the machine in exactly sixty seconds, I timed it rather than counting off seconds in my head) spat out a fair bit of white crud. Good.

I skipped the first rinse, advancing the machine to the second, then let it finish by itself.


There's now quite a lot of water on the floor. Once the cycle was done, I opened the lid (and will leave it open) and then also opened the access trap to the extraction pump to be sure that no crud was lingering around in there. No gunk, but about a decent mugfull of water that dumped itself on the floor. I decided that I wouldn't bother checking for leaks, as the difference between that and yesterday's "leak" was quite clear.

I then grabbed the inner drum and gave it a shake. Side to side, then up and down. The outer drum moved exactly the same way as the inner drum. The bearings are good, there's absolutely no play at all.


I have left the lid open to allow the machine dry.


As for yesterday's washing? Well, it was only-just-damp. That's with a humid and rather chilly January day, much rain and wind, then mist...a storm blowing through. I put everything into a laundry basket, and now each item is getting a quarter hour or so (as necessary) on the radiator to finish drying it off.



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Gavin Wraith, 10th January 2022, 15:09
Seeing the photo of your drain reminded me of a book about flying saucers (by Adamski?) that my grandmother had bought, nearly seventy years ago. She was a bit of a sucker for that sort of thing, as few girls got a proper scientific education in her day.

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