Power Cut During Washing Machine Cycle? (what you need to do now)

We all take our washing machines for granted, we load them with dirty laundry, add detergent, select the correct programme, and forget about it until it’s finished washing our clothes. But what would you do in the event of a power cut? And more importantly, what would happen to the laundry?

To find out the answer to these and other questions relating to washing machines and power cuts, keep reading.

What Happens To A Washing Machine In The Event Of A Power Cut?

It all depends on the make and model of your appliance really, because older washers have mechanical timers which will just stop working during the power cut and continue from the point they stopped at when the power comes back on.

Modern washing machines have microchips which store data short term. This means once the power returns, the machine is likely to pick up from where it left off.

However, depending on the make and model, some may need to be restarted. Which usually just entails pressing the start button again. 

Some have a limited memory time which means if a period of a few hours goes by without restarting the machine, you’ll need to start again from scratch. While others can remain paused indefinitely until you continue with the programme or not.

This can be particularly useful if for example you were running a hot wash and it got interrupted for long enough for the water to cool down.

Does A Power Cut Damage The Washing Machine?

Living in the UK where all of our electrical appliances are protected by an earth wire, and where all plugs are fused, there is little chance of any damage occurring to the washing machine in the event of a power cut.

However, it’s a good idea if a power cut does occur to unplug all electrical devices because once the power is restored it could cause a power surge. Power surges can damage circuitry by overloading the system with too much power.

Even if the worst were to happen and your home experienced a power surge, your appliances should all be protected by the fuse in the plug, but it’s still a wise precaution to turn off wall plugs or unplug devices altogether.

If you need to replace the plug’s fuse, it should always be replaced by a fuse of the same amperage. If your washing machine has a 13 amp fuse, and a power surge causes it to blow, it should be replaced with a 13 amp fuse and not one of greater value.

If you were to replace a 13 amp fuse with a 15 amp fuse and there was another power surge, the fuse might hold which could potentially cause damage to the appliance. Electrical appliances are fitted with the correct fuse for the safety of that appliance and you should never tamper with it.

Also most homes have circuit breakers which would cut the power before any damage could occur. These will need to be reset usually by flicking a switch on the circuit breaker box.

How To Restart The Washing Machine After A Power Cut

Washing Machine

Once the power has been restored newer machines should automatically pick up where they left off. Which means you won’t have to do anything at all.

Not all machines have this function however, and certainly many older appliances as well as some toploaders don’t, which means you’ll need to restart the programme all over again.

To reset the system you will need to press the start/pause button before pressing the power button. This clears the machine’s memory of the old programme. It can now be restarted by pressing the power button again and then selecting the desired programme.

In some cases, you might need to remove the plug from the socket and plug it back in again. This can often cause the appliance to reconnect to the power supply (once the power has come back on).

Sometimes the electronic control unit has trouble resetting after a power cut. If this is the case with your machine, try selecting another programme like spin or drain. This could be enough to free the system up and allow you to reset the programme you require.

What Has Caused The Power Cut?

The reason for the loss of power can be a major factor in deciding how to continue. 99% of the time, the problem will not be related to the washing machine and will have been caused by something outside of your home.

This would mean that once the power is restored, you can continue the wash programme from where it was interrupted. As soon as you notice that the washing machine has stopped working and that all displays and/or lights have gone out, you need to check other appliances around your home.

If all of your power is out, check outside to see if only your home is affected. If so it’s time to contact your energy supplier to report the fault.

If however, it’s just your washing machine that’s not working or displaying any signs of life, you should check that the plug hasn’t been pulled from the socket. Push the plug in fully because it doesn’t need to be out very much to lose the connection.

It is possible that the movement and vibration of the machine has dislodged the plug slightly. Just enough to break contact and cause the washing machine to be starved of power.

If this isn’t the case,  it could be an electrical fault in the actual machine. There are several internal components that could have caused the power to stop. If it is an internal fault, you’ll need to get the appliance repaired before being able to reuse it.

You should contact the manufacturer if it’s still under warranty or a fully qualified electrical engineer or washing machine technician if your warranty has run out.

How To Get The Washing Machine Door Open In The Event Of A Breakdown

On most washing machines, the door lock mechanism automatically unlocks once power has been cut to the machine. This means you could at least remove your laundry and get it done by hand at a push.

However, you’ll need to be careful because the drum could be full of water so have a large bowl ready to catch as much water as possible.

How To Get Rid Of The Smell If Your Laundry Has Been Left In The Drum

Two people putting clothes in a laundry basket from the washer

If the power cut has lasted for a long time and your clothes have been soaking in dirty water for all of that time, they might have developed a bad smell. If this is the case, you might prefer to restart the machine on a new wash programme instead of allowing the machine to pick up where it left off.

If, when the power returns the machine starts where it left off, you can select the drain cycle. This will then allow you to restart a new programme once all of the foul, smelly water has drained away.

However, if the machine was only at the beginning of the first soak at the start of the wash cycle, you can usually just allow the programme to continue as it will be long enough to remove any bad smells before it ends.

Or you could add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle. This not only eliminates smells from the laundry, it also cleans and deodorises the machine, removes limescale, and acts as a fabric softener too.

SEE ALSO: How To Use White Vinegar In The Washing Machine (and why!)

Ways To Avoid Any Problems From Power Cuts

Power cuts can be annoying, but if they become a regular thing, they can disrupt your way of life. It’s not just the washing machine that’s affected by a loss of electricity, fridges and freezers pose the greatest risk as the contents could become ruined.

If the power cut is in the winter (and they invariably are) your home could become extremely cold very quickly. This means you need some form of heating as well.

A good solution for times when the power goes out is a generator or a portable power station. These are relatively inexpensive with many costing less than £300.

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Some generators are petrol powered which means you’ll also need a supply of fuel to keep the generator running for the duration of the power cut.

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Portable power stations on the other hand are charged with electricity when the power is running and can be used in the event of it going out. Some are solar powered and get charged via a solar panel that is usually supplied with the unit.

These can be great energy solutions if you live in an area where power cuts are a regular thing.

SEE ALSO: What Are The Benefits Of Drying Clothes In The Sun?

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if there’s a power cut when using the washing machine?

This depends on the age, make and model of your washing machine. In many cases, once the power is restored, the machine will carry on from where it was stopped. However, in some cases you will need to manually restart the programme from the beginning.

Should I unplug the washer during a power outage?

It’s always a good idea to unplug all electrical appliances during a power outage. This is because once the power is restored it can cause a power surge which could damage your electrical devices.

How long does a power cut usually last in the UK?

If the power cut has been planned by the energy supplier, it will usually last for a period of 3 hours. However, in an emergency, you could be without power for much longer.

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