We had done a couple of washes and all seemed well, when my son Brendan called me to say that one of the washer-extractors, a Primus 50lb W22, would not start. I pressed the “start” button, but all that happened was the click of a relay.

So we had power, but with all the noise from the other machines, it was hard to know if water was coming in.

First steps My first step was to check the water pressure. Often the pressure starts very low, so I just wait until it gets to around 40+ and then listen for the usual rush.

I switched the washing machine on and off watching the pressure gauge for any variation.

Water was not coming in.

I moved the card control to a different spot and still no luck. I had no water, the drum was not turning but I did have power.

Then I remembered that a few weeks before I had to bash the door to get the machine to start.

Alas, thump-bash, it did not work this time.

I tried to open the door electronically, without success. It would only open when I switched the “off” button, so the door switch was OK. A lot of these doors have more than one switch. So, on to the next stage.

First, making sure the power was off at the mains, it was easy to get the front panel off. The rule is, if it isn’t, call a service man.

The two hardest bolts to get at were under the lid. They were missing on this machine, so all was well there.

With the front panel off, I could see that plunger “A” on one of the switches was not coming back far enough to strike micro-switch “B”.

It was easy to remove the unit. The plunger is spring-loaded, and I could see it was sticking.

The spring looks delicate, but as it has worked for 11 years, I had no doubt it was up to the job. I cleaned the plunger and the housing with very fine emery paper and then refitted the plunger.

All worked beautifully.

Should I oil it? It was a loose fit, did it need oil? Would the light spring overcome the friction if the oil got tacky? Remembering how long it had been there, I did put a little oil on it and it worked like silk. I replaced the unit and all worked beautifully. Total time spent: 35 minutes; cost: nil.

When a car breaks down the driver usually knows what is wrong, because he has had a little problem in the same area already.

In my case, getting the washer to work by bashing the door gave me the link to the present trouble.