How to Fix a Washing Machine that Won’t Drain

Washing machines need to drain in order to function. Just like you would need to pour out the wash-water if washing clothes by hand, your clothes can’t really get clean if the soapy water can’t be rinsed away with all the day’s grime. Draining is also essential for the drying process. When all the water drains out and the drum spins really fast, that’s the equivalent of wringing the clothes out before they go into the dryer.

So if you open your washer and find your clothes still sopping wet and swimming in the water, it’s time to enact a solution. The problem is clear, your washer isn’t draining. Let’s figure out where the draining stopped and how to fix it.   

Straighten the Drain Hose

The first natural place to look is your drain hose. The washer has a special hose that carries dirty, soapy, and rinse water away when the unit drains. This hose connects to a drain in the floor or the wall nearby. Drain hoses very commonly get either twisted and blocked from the outside or clogged from the inside.

The most common cause for a blocked drain hose is a walking washer. Your washer may have wobbled backward enough to pinch the drain hose and stop the draining. Locate your drain hose and track it all the way from the washer to the drain aperture. Shake it clear and then put the washer back in place, ensuring the drain hose is not kinked or pinched. Twists should be avoided or wide, if possible. 

Confirm The Lid Switch is Working

Many washers will not perform most of their functions without a latched lid switch. The lid switch tells the washer that the door (or lid) is securely closed and locked tight. It won’t spin or drain for safety purposes. This can mean that a loose or broken lid switch will prevent your washer from draining when it’s time.

Test your lid or door switch, depending on if your washer is top or front loading.  See if the door switch affects the light. See if your washer will start with the door switch depressed with your finger. If you can prove the door switch is working correctly, look elsewhere. If the door switch feels loose, secure it. If the door switch is broken, replace it. 

Empty the Coin Trap

Many (but not all) washers have a coin trap that catches lost objects like pocket change, jewelry, keys, and lost chapsticks. Your washer’s coin trap will likely have a small hatch or panel that opens to reveal the damp treasure retrieved over the last few months. If your coin trap is full or creating a clog, then clearing it will solve your washer draining problem. At the very least, you’ll find a few lost items and perform a small, periodically necessary maintenance task for your washer. 

Reset the Washer

Some washers can be reset using the hardware or software interface. Resetting the appliance to factory settings can sometimes resolve an internal problem that was stopping the washer from draining. A hanging error code or control panel issue can be resolved with a reset.

Read your washer’s manual to discover the reset process. With modern washers, this will likely be through the control panel buttons. An older style of washer resetting says to unplug the washer for one minute, then plug it back in. Then open & close the lid 6 times within 12 seconds. This will reset some models of old-school top-loading washer. 

Clear the Drain Hose and Pump of Clogs

Now it’s time to check for clogs. Looking for clogs requires a bit of disassembly and mess. Have towels handy and make sure to shut the water connection off. Then detach the drain hose and check it for internal blockages. If there is something blocking, clear the entire drain hose with a combination of techniques. You can snake or clear. You can run high-pressure hot water through the line. You can clean it out with brushes and cleaning products.

Then check the drain pump. Open up the washer cabinet to access the drain pump. Look for signs of both clogging and damage. The drain pump can sometimes get clogged with lightweight laundry that got sucked in. Clear the pump of blockages and check all the valves and seals. If there are signs of damage, replace the drain pump. 

Unclog the Drain Beyond the Washer

There’s also a chance that your washer has a drain problem beyond the drain pump and hose. If the drain under the house is clogged, then your washer won’t be able to drain when everything else is working perfectly. Snake your drain and discover if there are any reachable clogs under the house. If necessary, call for a plumber to clear the drain underneath your home and possibly retrieve lost clog-causing laundry items. 

Test for Success or Try Again

Each time you try a solution, test to see if your fix was successful. This is important to learn what the problem was and aptly fix it, without diving unnecessarily into your washer cabinet. Let yourself know when you are done by testing frequently. To test, run an empty load of laundry, set to the shortest full-cycle settings. Wait for the cycle to finish and check to see if the water has drained. If so, pat yourself on the back and enjoy your laundry machine.

If the washer still isn’t draining, you may need professional assistance to hunt down the problem. A trained appliance repair technician can take apart the washer and examine every part that contributes to washer draining. They can also more promptly determine whether the problem is inside the washing machine or underneath the house instead. If you are in over your head, if you don’t have time to do DIY repairs, or if your washer isn’t fixed when you try the steps, contact us today. Our team of professional appliance technicians is here to help with all your home appliance concerns. We are always happy to consult with a new or returning client.

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