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How to Troubleshoot Washing Machine Not Draining

Washing Machine Not Draining
Nov 2020

Load, press start and wait. After the wash cycle, the drum drains, marking the first spin cycle. As you go about doing other chores, the washer refills and rinse your clothes – once or two times. All you have to do later is to pick up the clothes for hanging. Alas, to your dismay, when you came back, the clothes remained submerged in water. A washing machine not draining is not uncommon and can happen to you. Fret not, though, because the solution is easier than you think.

Your washing machine, like any appliance, can succumb to wear and tear. Even though it is integral to our lifestyle, we sometimes also neglect to provide routine maintenance. Yet, at our whim, it does what it is built to do – remove impurities from your dungarees, leaving them clean and smelling nice.

Imagine the accumulation of residues, dirt, fluff, and anything under the sun. These materials build up over time until one day, it happens – the washer would not drain anymore.

How Do You Troubleshoot and Fix a Washing Machine that Won’t Drain?

Loose fibers and other materials, including residues, can cause a blockage, preventing your washing machine from draining water. If you are vigilant enough, then it is possible to see the first signs – clothes not feeling as dry as they should, for example. Once a blockage occurs, either the water fails to drain, or the washer gets flooded.

Before calling for help (and paying afterward), there are things you can do to solve this problem.


  1. Unplug the washing machine.
  2. Gather a large flat tray, some old towels, and a few empty containers such as plastic containers.

1. Emergency Drain Hose

You cannot open the door of front-load washers when it is filled with water. Instead, look for the service hatch located beneath the front panel. Inside is an emergency drain hose.

If you cannot find the service hatch, then you have to carefully move the washing machine, creating space to access the back. Find the drain hose, unhook from the standpipe, and keep its level above the washing machine.

2. Drain the Water

To keep the floor dry, you can place a tray beneath the drain hose where it can catch tiny spills.

Pinch the drain hose before removing the plug. You can start draining your washer by releasing water into a small plastic container. Once filled, dump the water into a bucket, and repeat the process. It would be much easier if the washing machine is located in a laundry area where releasing water onto the floor is a non-issue.

3. Check the Pump

Any material that is small enough can cause a blockage. A coin, for example, has caused grief to plenty of people already.

Stop wondering and find out what caused yours not to drain.

Look inside the service hatch. There should be a circular access cup. Unscrew to remove the cover, and the tray will catch some water that spills.

You may have to use a torch to see inside the hole. First, try to see if there is a foreign object lodged into the impeller. Remove debris, if there are, carefully using tools like long-nose pliers. Do wear rubber gloves if you intend to use your fingers as a safety precaution.

After making sure there are no foreign materials, try to turn the impeller. It should have a slight resistance from the motor but not stuck.

Clean the impeller and interior surface of the hole after removing debris and making sure that the impeller can turn. Use a damp cloth to wipe away any fluff, scale, or sludge. You should also clean the access cup and the filter – if there is – especially the screw threads and seal.

Screw the access cup and wipe the rest of the service hatch clean.

Note: If the seal looks too dry, apply a tiny film of vaseline or petroleum grease to ensure a water-tight seal.


Related article: How to Stop and Fix Your Washing Machine Leaking Water


4. Test the Washing Machine

You have managed to clear the impeller, the site of the most common cause of washing machines not draining water.

Before clearing away the things you prepared, you do have to test and make sure that your washer is working normally. You can do that by starting a program and letting the drum fill with a generous amount of water.

Instead of letting the washing machine complete the program, you can stop it, and select “drain” from the available programs to save time.

Note: Some washing may not have the drain option from the selector. In that case, simply start a new program. These washing machines would usually drain water at the start if detected.

If your washing machine drains the water, then congratulations. You managed to troubleshoot and fix the problem without calling for help. Before packing away, do check the access hatch and see if there is any seepage. Hopefully, the access cap is sealed completely. Otherwise, you would have to do practically everything again.

5. The Hose and the Standpipe

If cleaning the impeller did not help, then the problem could be a blockage on the hose or the standpipe.

Note: Even if you already fixed the drainage problem, it makes sense to go through this section to prevent future issues.

First, inspect the drain hose. The material itself should feel flexible, not overly hard, or brittle. See if there are any signs of damage. You could detach it from the machine and peek through it by keeping it in a straight line. Another way is to gently pinch the whole length to feel for any blockage.

Next up is the standpipe. If it is filled with water, then the problem might be the drain itself. You can poke with a stick to see if it helps in draining the accumulated water.

Pour a powerful drain cleaner according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Usually, you need to leave it alone for a period as the chemical agents dissolve objects that are causing the clog.

Once you complete this process, the hope is that any material that caused a blockage on the drain has disintegrated. You can pour water into the standpipe to see how fast it drains empty.

Is It the Washing Machine or the Drain?

As you have learned, there are two primary areas where clogging could occur, which stops water from being drained from the washing machine. Troubleshooting and fixing the problem yourself is not complicated and can be completed in an hour or so.

Was it the impeller where a foreign object and other materials got stuck?

Is the cause due to a clogged drain?

Regardless of which, the most important thing is that the washing machine goes back to doing what it does best – washing and cleaning your clothes.

What Happens If the Washer Still Cannot Drain Properly?

After cleaning the impeller and making sure the drain hose, standpipe, and drain are okay, your washing machine should function normally. However, there might be other underlying causes that require the help of trained professionals.

At the very least, you would know who to call.

If, after using a powerful drain cleaner did not seem to work in unclogging the drain, call a plumber.

Now, if it is the washing machine, then find a reputable service center in the local area. Here is a listing of service areas covered by Prime Appliance Repairs. If you are located in one of those places, send them a note and let them fix your problem – usually within 24 hours.

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