I have switched off all the breakers and my washing machine continues to run. How is that possible? How can I fix it?

  • Have you tried unplugging the washer? – Legion600 Nov 2 '14 at 3:02
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    Either there's a breaker you aren't aware of (maybe the machine's wired into another unit, if you're in a multi-family house). or someone did something Really Stupid with the house wiring. Second @Legion600's advice to unplug it if you need to "safe" the machine, and I'd add that if you really can't get this figured out it's worth getting an electrician in to establish what's going on. – keshlam Nov 2 '14 at 3:12
  • We remodeled 3 years ago and upgraded to a 200 amp panel. I suspect maybe the Electrician did something Really Stupid. There are no other breakers. This is a single family house. Is it possible the washer got hard-wired somehow? Is it possible the breaker itself is defective or isn't connected properly? The electrician did label the breaker for the washer. – Wayne Nov 2 '14 at 4:50
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    It is possible that the breaker is defective. None the less I suggest, as others have done, to unplug the washer and get this problem evaluated by a professional electrician. Best advice would be to get someone else than the one who did the remodel work three years ago. – Michael Karas Nov 2 '14 at 5:26
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    It is very possible he labeled it wrong and the washer is on a circuit you are not expecting. If you don't mind resetting clocks, run through each circuit one at a time to find which one it is on. – diceless Nov 2 '14 at 5:27

The diagram below shows a typical electrical breaker box:

breaker box

Notice how at the top there is a "Main" breaker. Locate this breaker and turn it off. If the washer still runs then it has to be connected to the 240 hot lug screws, shown with the red text in the diagram (a bad thing, call electrician).

If the washer goes off when the main is pulled, but all other breakers do not affect it, then it means the washer is wired to the bus bar, also a bad thing, but not nearly so bad as being connected to the main hots.

If the second case is true, then you may be able to fix it yourself. Turn off the main breaker. Locate the connection to the busbar by using a continuity tester, disconnect it, install a 240V 3-wire breaker, re-connect washer to new 3-wire breaker. If your box is full, install a subpanel.

  • Tyler, after further investigation, I found that, since we have a 'stackable' washer/dryer, the power is all in the 240v dryer outlet (which has its own circuit breaker) so when I tripped the DRYER breaker, the washer stopped running. The breaker marked 'WASHER'is for the 110 outlet behind the washer/dryer and nothing is plugged into it. I checked it and it works fine. When the electrician upgraded our panel he was unaware that we would install a 'stackable' so he did the right thing. The only wrong thing was my ignorance. I appreciate your help! – Wayne Nov 2 '14 at 20:45

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