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What To Do When The Washing Machine Wont Drain


When a washing machine won't drain there could be several different causes. If you find that suddenly your washing machine wont drain the first thing to do is break down the problem and try to find the cause. Before deciding how to fix the problem you will need to know if it is the washing machine or the drain that is the source of the problem.

Water Remains In The Washer - Does the water not drain out of the washing machine when a wash cycle has ended? If the problem is that there is water left inside the washing machine when the cycle is through the cause is most likely inside the appliance itself. The washing machine wont drain if there is a problem with the drain tube or the pump, so either of these could be the source of the issue.

  • Drain Tube

    If something is clogged inside the washing machine drain tube it can prevent the water from being pumped out of the machine. To test this remove the drain tube attached to the washer and make sure it is clear. An easy way to check that the drain tube is clear is to blow air through it. If there does not seem to be anything obstructing the drain tube the problem is most likely at the washing machine pump.

  • Pump

    When there is water left inside the washer and the drain tube is not the problem it is likely that the pump could be bad. When the pump is not working properly the water will not get ejected from the machine at the end of the cycle. If you believe that the washing machine pump is causing the problem then a call to a local appliance repair shop for a quote is a good idea.

Water Spills Out Of The Washer Or Drain - If the washing machine wont drain properly and water is getting on the floor every time it runs then the problem is likely at the drain. A clogged drain will not allow the water from the machine to drain out properly and ends up backing up the pipe and spilling on the floor. Clearing the clogged drain will usually resolve the problem.

The washing machine hose goes down about two feet into the plumbing drain standpipe. From there the water then goes into a trap. The clog could either be in this trap area or it could be further down the line. The first thing to do is to determine where the clog is likely to be.

With this quick test you can usually get a good idea of the location of the clog.

Test - Fill the washing machine with water. Turn the dial to the spin/drain setting and get ready to drain it. Position yourself where you can see the drain standpipe while still having access to the washer dial. What you will be looking for is how long it takes the water to back up and out of the drain pipe.

Note: Be ready to stop the washing machine from draining at any moment.

  1. If the washer backs up in just a few seconds then the clog is likely very close and can be cleared with a small top snake through the standpipe. You may even be able to clear it with a small hand powered snake.

  2. If it takes some time to back up then the stoppage is likely quite far away. In this case you will need to use a medium drain snake through a clean-out to clear the stoppage.
Many times there is a clean-out behind the washing machine that can be used to snake the stoppage. If there is not a clean-out behind the washing machine but there is a kitchen near by, often the two drains run together and you can run the snake through the kitchen clean-out to clear the stoppage. If the kitchen drain seems a bit slow or has had water backing up when running the washing machine then this verifies they are tied together and clearing one could clear both.

Most people do not have the drain snakes necessary to clear these kind of stoppages. Fortunately most drain snakes can be rented by the hour from home improvement and tool rental stores if you decide to do it yourself.

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