What to Do When Your Washing Machine Won’t Drain

Nobody wants to hear their washing machine stop only to open it and see their clothes still drowning in water. When you notice your washing machine won’t drain, you begin to wonder just how you’ll fix your washer and if you’ll need to call a professional. Understandably, you’re frustrated at the prospect of paying someone hundreds of dollars to fix your washer. Before you go into full panic mode, here are some steps to take if your washer won’t drain. In order to ensure your safety, before taking these steps, unplug the power cord from the wall, or flip the circuit breaker.

How to fix a washing machine that won’t drain

  1. Check the drain hose
  2. Check the lid switch
  3. Check the belts
  4. Check the drain pump
  5. Check the drain
  6. If all else fails, call a professional or your home warranty company

Check the drain hose

The drain hose is attached to the back of the washer. Simply put, the drain hose is the pathway the water takes in order to exit the washing machine. If that drain hose is clogged, water may remain trapped inside the washer instead of draining out like normal. Often, the lack of drainage may be caused by a simple kink in the drain hose. Many times, this happens because the washer has been accidentally pushed up against the hose, pinching if off and inhibiting water from passing through. A kink of this nature is caused by the accidental bumping of the washer, or by the washer itself spinning rapidly inside, causing the entire machine to move slightly and push the hose against the wall.

First, check to see if there is a kink. If a kink isn’t the culprit, inspect the inside of the drain hose to see if there is an object or piece of clothing blocking the passage of water. For this step, particularly, you’ll want to keep a bucket close by to catch any excess water that may be present when you look into the tube. Start by using a flashlight to see if you can peer inside the hose and see any blockages. If that doesn’t work, you may need to remove the hose from the machine and use the garden hose to run some water through it to try to clear out any blockages. Once you believe you’ve cleared out whatever was blocking drainage, reattach the hose to the washer, turn on the washer, and set the rinse cycle to “on” to see if the washer will drain.

Check the lid switch

The lid switch is the mechanism that tells the washer to stop its spin cycle when the lid is opened. Most often, the lid switch is activated by a small tab on the washer lid that presses the switch down when the lid closes. Since the washer lid is opened and closed many times, the lid switch is one of the more commonly broken washing machine parts. It’s high on the list of things to check when you’re determining how to fix a washing machine that won’t drain.

To determine if your lid switch is broken, close the lid of your machine and see if you hear a slight click. If you don’t hear a click, it’s likely your lid switch is broken and your washing machine won’t drain. It is possible to fix the lid switch on your own, but it can become very frustrating and time consuming. If you do find that your lid switch is broken, you may be better calling a washing machine repair person or your home warranty company than trying to fix it yourself. In any case, if you do happen to determine the likely issue before the machine repair specialist arrives, you’ll be able to steer them in the right direction and get your washer back to working condition more quickly.

Check the belts

Most washing machines have two belts: the pump belt, and the main belt. Often, drainage issues are caused by a broken pump belt. It’s rare that the main belt breaks, but if it does, it’s a problem in and of itself that will need fixing. In order to access these belts, you’ll need to find a manufacturer’s diagram of your specific washer model. Often, you can find this information online. Keep in mind also that front-loading washers may be set up differently than top-loading washers.

Check the drain pump

To fix your washer that won’t drain, next check the pumps. Similar to the belts, in order to inspect the drain pump, you’ll need to determine where it is located on your model. Disassemble it carefully, remove and clean the screen, ensure the fan blades are rotating smoothly, and check the pump outlet to see if there are any objects or pieces of clothing trapped inside. Lastly, check for leaks or cracks. If you determine that the pump impeller is worn down or in bad condition, you’ll need a new pump.

Check the drain

If your washing machine won’t drain, be sure to check the washer drain itself, as drain problems could be at the root of your issues. You may need to push a plumbers snake or a spare metal hanger through the drain to ensure any blockages are cleared out. Naturally, if the drain is clogged, your washer will not drain properly.

Call a professional or your home warranty company

If you have a home warranty, there’s no need to worry about paying for expensive repairs. Simply contact your home warranty company and they’ll handle it. That said, if you can easily determine the underlying issue behind why your washing machine won’t drain, you’ll be able to let them know what the possible issues are, which will often save you a lot of time.

If you do not have a home warranty, you may find yourself with an expensive repair bill. While not ideal, some prefer to contact a professional repair person since they don’t feel comfortable handling the repairs themselves and want to ensure things are done right.

If your washer won’t drain and you’ve followed the steps we’ve outlined, you’ll be well on your way to fixing the problem.