Washing Machine Problems: The Water Won't Drain

A clothes washer that won't drain is not only malfunctioning, it's frustrating.

A washer that won't drain can lead to a mountain of unwashed laundry.A washer that won't drain can lead to a mountain of unwashed laundry.
In addition, the door of a front-loading washer that has water in the tub usually can't be opened, so you can't retrieve your laundry. Whatever brand and style of washer you have, there are some common reasons why a washing machine fails to drain. Many times the problem is caused by something you can fix. So before you call for service, try some troubleshooting.

Check the power source to the washer and make sure that the washer is plugged in. If a fuse has blown or a circuit breaker has tripped, replace or reset it. If the fuse blows or the circuit breaker trips again, call an electrician to find out if the problem is in your wiring.

Open the lid of a top-loading washer and see if the load has shifted to one side of the washer. If the load is unbalanced, the drum can't spin and drain. Redistribute the clothes in the drum and close the lid. Restart the washer.

Examine the drain hose; look for kinks. Unkink the hose and reinsert it into the drain according to the manufacturer's instructions. Restart the washer.

Find the end of the drain hose and examine how it is inserted into the drain. There must be an "air gap" between the hose and the drain for the washing machine to drain properly. If the hose is stuffed down into the drain, a washer cannot empty itself. Adjust the hose and restart the washer.

Make sure the end of the drain hose that goes into the drain is bent into an inverted U-shape just before it enters the drain. If it is not, put the drain hose into the correct shape and use cable ties to hold it in place.

Check the household drain to find out if it is clogged. You can do this by turning on faucets in the house and wait to see if the sinks and tub drain. If several of your drains are running slowly or not at all, your main household drain probably is clogged. If the other fixtures are draining well, the washing machine drain may need to be cleaned out.

Things You Will Need

  • Cable ties

About the Author

Tanya Lee is a professional writer with more than 30 years experience. She has published extensively in the field of education and as a journalist, the latter in such publications as "High Country News" and "News from Indian Country." Lee holds a M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.