How to Fix a Washing Machine That Won’t Drain
Modern washing machines make the job of washing our clothes and linen a breeze. These days, washing machines can do just about everything but dry and fold your clothes. With all of these features, there are lots of issues that can arise during operation. But there is perhaps no more frustrating problem to have than a washing machine that just won’t drain. A washing machine that won’t drain means you’ve got a giant appliance full of water (maybe soapy, maybe clean, maybe dirty) and a load of sopping laundry that didn’t get done. If you are stuck with a washing machine that won’t drain, this helpful guide will assist you in getting dried out and working again.
Before Getting Started
Remember a few safety tips before getting started: always unplug the appliance before servicing the inside the cabinet, turn off the water supply to the appliance if necessary, wear protective eyewear and clothing when needed, and don’t be afraid to call in a washer repair professional for a little help.
This guide was performed on a typical top-loading American brand washer. Your washing machine may vary slightly, but for a simple DIY task like this, the steps will be similar. Consult your manufacturer’s owner’s guide to confirm any steps.
Step 1: Open the Front Panel
Confirm that your washer is unplugged from its power source. The most frustrating part of this fix will be getting rid of the water that did not drain. If there’s not much water, you can try to bail it out with a cup or small bowl. A homemade siphon of a plastic tube draining into a bucket may also work. You can also drain the washing machine tub by moving actual drain hose to the floor, into a bucket. In the right circumstances, this might allow gravity to draw the water out of your drain hose, into the bucket. Once the basin is empty, you can proceed.
For the next step, you’ll need to lift the washer slightly and prop it with a sturdy prop, such as a few stacked two-by-fours. Be sure that the washer is securely propped before proceeding. By lifting the washer, you can access the screws under the cabinet edge that hold on the front panel.
Remove the screws and lift the panel out of place. It might be attached with a clip on either side, so take caution as you remove the panel.
Step 2: Locate the Pump and Check for Clogs
Locate your washing machine’s drain pump. Ours was located in the bottom right of the cabinet, but you can check your owner’s manual for the exact location of your model’s pump. The pump will have a plastic, semi-translucent housing. Visually inspect the pump first, as you can sometimes see signs of clogs through the plastic. If there are no evident clogs, there may be a clog not visible, somewhere in the hose near the pump.
With a bucket nearby to catch any remaining water in the tub, loosen the clamp that connects the hose to the bottom of the washing machine tub and remove it. Catch any remaining water in the bucket, and examine the hose end for any clogs. If you see an obstruction like hair, lint, or clothing, you can often remove it with a pair of needle-nose pliers. With the hose removed from the pump, you should be able to get a better view of any clogs inside.
Step 3: Inspect the Pump for Mechanical Failure
If you haven’t been able to find any clogs in the pump or in the drain hose, there could be a mechanical failure of the pump. It’s likely that you would have heard a sound or noise related to the pump failure, and you might have noticed telltale leaking water from your washer as well. If you’ve seen or heard any of these symptoms, you are likely dealing with a broken pump. Washing machine pumps are reliable and tough, built to withstand forgotten pocket debris passing through the system, but the impeller fins can break when subjected to undue stress.
If you suspect that your pump has failed, check your owner’s manual for screw location and remove any screws that hold the pump into place. Disconnect the pump from any other connections that remain, and use the old pump as a reference when purchasing your new pump. Be sure to replace the pump with the same make and model of pump that you removed. Once the new pump is installed, reconnect all hoses and close the cabinet of the washing machine to test it out again.