Not everything we wash is entirely washer-safe. Socks and other small unmentionable articles of clothing can sometimes get sucked right into the washer drain hose or stuck in the pump. When this type of clothing forms a wad, the water stops flowing which, in effect stops the water draining from your washer. This can be a real problem and the cause of some huge messes if you’re not careful. Often, it’s hard to determine just what is causing your washer drain problems. But if you determine the problem is inside the washer, and not the house drains, then there’s only one thing left to do: hunt down the clog.
Whether it’s a sock, a bathing suit, or a lacy something else, you’ll need to fish that clogging article out of the washer drain system before your washer is capable of resuming normal washing and draining functions. So it’s time for a clog hunt. The tips and process we’re going through today are for a Maytag top-loading washer. For other models, check your manuals for steps to access the drain pump and hose assembly.
Gather Your Supplies
The first step for any repair is to gather your supplies. This clog isn’t a replacement repair, so you don’t need to worry about getting an exact replacement part, but this could get messy. You’ll want all your supplies ready to prevent or clean up water mess along the way, plus tools to take apart your washer to find the clog. You’ll need a bucket, towels, and hose clamps to deal with the water. You’ll need screwdrivers, nut-drivers, wrenches, and pliers to access the clog. You may also benefit from a friend to help with heavy lifting.
- Hose Clamps
- Nut Driver Set
- Needle-Nose Pliers
- 2 Paint Cans or a Stack of 2x4s
- A Friend
Prepare the Machine
Pull Away from the Wall
With your supplies ready, it’s time to prep the washing machine. Start by pulling your washer away from the wall. You will likely need to access the back to turn off the water among other things. Many models of washer have the drain pump accessible from the back, though we’ll be accessing the Maytag drain pump through the front panel. If necessary, ask a friend to help you move the washer forward. Consider using a towel or cardboard to prevent scratching the floor.
Unplug the Power
The next step is to unplug your washer from the wall. This should be easier to do with the washer pulled forward. Never repair an appliance that is still plugged in. Cutting the power eliminates the risk of electroshock.
Turn Off the Water
Look for the two water valves in the wall behind or next to your washer and twist them shut. This will shut off the water so that no new water from the wall can add to your non-draining washer mess. The good news is that you don’t have to disconnect the water line hoses.
Clear the Water
Bail Out the Basket
If the washer is full of water that isn’t draining away, you’ll need to bail it out. Use a bucket, bowls, or tupperware to scoop water out of your washer. Pull out any wet clothes and mop up the bottom with towels. This will make the rest of your repair much cleaner and lighter-weight.
Empty Drain Hose Into a Bucket
The drain hose for your washer probably points toward a floor drain or a drain in the wall. Unhook it from the usual spot and point it downward into a bucket. Allow any water inside the washer’s drain hose to drain completely out, if it will come.
Clamp the Drain Hose End
When the drain hose has mostly drained, place a hose clamp over the end. This will prevent any water you successfully release in unclogging from flooding your laundry room in a few minutes.
Remove the Front Panel
Prop Up the Washer Front
The next step is interesting, you may not have heard of this one before. Lift up the front of your washing machine and place two paint cans underneath, one under each front foot. If you’re not fixing a Maytag and your drain is behind the back panel, tip it the other direction and look up the steps to open that panel instead. You may need the help of a friend for this part.
Remove Mounting Screws
There are two mounting screws holding the front panel in place, near the bottom. Remove them with your screwdriver and carefully set the screws aside where you can find them later.
Pull Out Lower Edge of Panel
Pull the lower edge of the front panel out toward you. It will still be attached to the top.
Unhook Top of Panel and Remove
Look to the top of the panel and unhook it from the top of the washer housing. Then pull away the panel and set it aside, out of your way.
Start the Clog Hunt
Check the Pump Housing
Now you should be able to see the drain pump, the internal drain hose, and the bottom of the washer tub. It’s time to start hunting for that sock-clog. Start by looking in the drain pump housing, which is often translucent. You may even be able to see whatever’s in there. Disconnect the drain hose, ready to catch any water with a towel. Then clamp the drain hose for now.
If something is caught in the drain pump, you’ll need to unhook the belt from the drain pulley underneath. Grasp the clogging item with your needle-nose pliers and twist the pulley to unwind the item from the drain assembly. Pull the clogging item out from the top of the pump, where the drain hose was connected.
Inspect the Internal Drain Hose Pump-End
If the clog isn’t inside the pump itself, it’s probably inside the internal drain hose. Unclamp the drain hose (towel ready) and check as far into the hose as you can see or reach with your pliers. If there’s anything in there, just pull it out. Shaking the drain hose may help to loosen anything wedged inside.
Inspect the Internal Drain Hose Tub-End
IF the clog isn’t near the pump-side of the drain hose, it might be near the tub-side. Disconnect the other side of the internal drain hose, towel ready to catch any falling water. Then check inside both ends of the drain hose, and the aperture where the drain hose disconnected from. In one of these places, you should find the clogging small article of clothing.
Reassemble Your Washer
With your soggy socks or underpants victoriously released from the drain assembly, it’s time to put your washer back together. Firmly reconnect both ends of your internal drain line and hook the pulley belt back into place below the drain pump. Hook your washer front panel back on top and slide it into place on the bottom before reapplying the mounting screws. Lower your washer off the paint cans, turn the water back on, and restore the power. With a few nudges, your washer is back into place and ready to test.
Test Your Success
Run a small or even empty load of laundry to see what happens. If the washer doesn’t leak or flood and the basket drains like it’s supposed to, then pat yourself on the back.