5 Reasons the Washing Machine Cycle Lasts Longer than the Timer Display

Occasionally you may notice that the washer cycle time lasts longer than what is indicated on the timer display. While it’s probably not a problem for this time to be off by a few minutes, in some cases it is off for considerably longer. Why does a washing machine cycle sometimes last longer than the timer display indicates?

A washing machine display timer estimates the typical run time for the selected setting. Additional settings or an oversized load may cause normal variations in this run time. Excessive delays may indicate low water pressure, a blocked inlet water filter, or a blocked drain filter. If the timer isn’t moving at all, it may need to be replaced.

Keep reading to learn more about your washing machine’s cycle, typical run times by cycle type, and what may be causing your timer to be inaccurate.

Why does my washing machine take longer than the timer says?

To pinpoint accurately why a washing machine cycle may be taking longer than usual, note the particular cycle the washing machine is running. You may find that the Heavy Duty load, for example, takes much longer than indicated while other settings are unaffected. 

Some reasons your washing machine is taking longer than the timer says include:

  • Additional settings
  • Load size
  • Low water pressure
  • Blocked inlet water filter
  • Blocked drain
  • Faulty timer
Let's take a look at the top 5 reasons the washing machine cycle lasts longer than the timer display indicates.

Let’s take a look at each of these potential issues, how to identify them in your washing machine, and some quick tips on how to get your timer back on track.

Additional settings

Most modern washing machines account for a “typical” load size under optimal conditions when displaying the projected wash time, and some models will even take the weight of the load into account.

Any washing machine setting changes made after the fact or that are not accounted for in the initial time will affect the total run time of the cycle.

Additional settings that might affect the cycle time of some washing machines include auto soak and additional rinse cycles. 

Load size

The type of washing machine you own will significantly impact the size of the load you’re able to run at a time. Even if you’re not overloading your washer’s capacity, you may be exceeding the programmed estimation.

Washing machine timers are usually based on the standard run time under ideal conditions, including a “typical” load size. If your load is lighter, heavier, or more absorbent than the programmed option, it is likely to take more or less time for each stage.

A regular load of laundry is only about half full, which may come as a surprise if you’re like me and need to get every possible sock and stray kid’s shirt clean in one go. Once you start packing in everything from the last walk through the rooms and checking under the table, it’s probably more like a large load. At that point, the actual run cycle is probably going to take longer than the timer initially claims.

Washing machine cycles are typically timed for standard loads.

Low water pressure

While the previous reasons your washing machine may be taking longer than the timer indicates are part of the normal operation, you may also be looking at a potential issue. 

A slower-than-expected washing machine cycle may be due to a lack of water pressure. If the fill cycle takes longer than the estimated time, the whole cycle will take longer than predicted.

Washing machines need a water pressure of 20-116 psi to function. If your household water pressure is generally good, chances are there’s a restriction in line that is causing a slow fill.

Wondering what else your washing machine needs to work properly? How about power? I’ve got all the current regulations for laundry room outlets!

Blocked inlet water filter

Once you’ve determined that the water pressure is good, you may be looking at a blocked filter.

A blocked inlet water filter will cause the fill stage to take longer than expected because the water entering the washing machine will be slowed down.

Check out this video for a detailed look at what might be causing your washing machine water pressure to drop, including how to replace a blocked filter.

Blocked drain

Now that you’ve established the fill stage isn’t responsible for the inaccurate cycle timer, it’s time to check the spin cycle.

During the spin cycle, the washer may not be able to drain the laundry as quickly as expected because of a blocked drain filter. 

Inspect the drain filter for your washer to remove any stuck items that may be blocking the drain.

Check out this video for a helpful demonstration of how to check your drain filter.

If your drain filter isn’t on the front of the machine, you may want to contact a professional since you’ll need to lift up the appliance and disassemble the filter.

Are you hearing a clicking noise in your washing machine? Find out why!

Faulty timer

The last thing that might be wrong with your washing machine timer is the competent itself.

The washing machine timer controls each stage of the wash cycle. If it’s malfunctioning, the washer will not run correctly. 

A washing machine that gets stuck on a single cycle, skips stages entirely, or stops completely mid-cycle probably needs a new timer. 

Are you dealing with an unbalanced washing machine? I’ve got the top four reasons for the noise, plus how to fix it!

Is it normal for a washing machine cycle to take longer than the timer says?

Washing machine cycle timers are a good indication of about how long is left, but they’re not always accurate. Is it normal for the timer to be wrong?

It is normal for the cycle time to be off by a few minutes. The size of the load or any additional settings selected may change the actual run time. 

The timer may vary by several minutes either way as part of normal function.

If the cycle time is much longer than usual or varies significantly even when the standard settings are selected, then there’s probably an underlying issue on the washing machine that needs to be addressed such as but not limited to low pressure of fresh water supply, blocked inlet filters, or a blocked drain.

How long should a washing machine cycle last?

Washing machine timers are based on the estimated run time of a standard load, but even manufacturers recognize that there is a range of run times.

A washing machine cycle on the standard Normal setting should take 50 minutes to an hour. 

Here’s a full breakdown of expected run times for standard washing machine settings:

CycleMinimum standard run timeMaximum standard run time
Normal50 minutes60 minutes
Quick15 minutes40 minutes
Heavy Duty60 minutes75 minutes
Cold50 minutes90 minutes
Colors55 minutes80 minutes
Whites90 minutes170 minutes
Towels85 minutes120 minutes
Bulky55 minutes120 minutes
Delicates45 minutes80 minutes
Sanitize90 minutes110 minutes
Table showing the expected run times for Whirlpool washing machines

Final thoughts on why the washing machine timer isn’t accurate

It is normal for a washing machine cycle to last longer than the timer indicates by a few minutes. If it is considerably longer, noting the particular cycle running may give you a hint about why it is taking unusually longer than indicated.

Normal reasons your washing machine timer may be off include additional settings and load size. Longer delays that may require maintenance or repair include low water pressure, a blocked inlet filter, a blocked drain, or a faulty timer.

Do not hesitate to contact a qualified washing machine technician for the washing machine brand.

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