What to Check When Your Top Load Washer Will Not Drain

Authorized Service
October 17, 2019
Washer Repair

There are few more heartbreaking appliance issues than opening your washer after the cycle is supposed to be done and finding that your clothes are still sitting in a tub of water. While you can certainly pull your clothes out and wring the excess water out of them, you still have all that water in the machine to deal with. It isn’t going away and if you let it sit, it is going to get nasty in there pretty quickly.

However, a tub full of water isn’t the end of the world. In fact, if you know what to check, it can be fixed very quickly, depending on the problem. Once you do fix the problem, however, you will definitely want to rewash that load of laundry just to make sure it is both rinsed of washing detergent, but also that they are actually clean.

Making Sure Your Washer Won’t Drain

When the water in your washer isn’t draining away, it is a drain issue, but that can be caused by a few different problems. Obviously, when troubleshooting this issue you want to start with the easiest one to diagnose.

While your first instinct may be to bail out the water from your washer, you may want to resist. You really do want to leave that water for the moment to sort of help you troubleshoot. Obviously, it is easier to tell what the problem is if water suddenly starts running.

That being said, you do want to have a large bucket on hand. You can unplug the washer for your safety, but for the first test, you actually do need power. However, there is no chance of water spillage, so you will be safe.

The very first test you should run is to make sure your washer actually won’t drain. To do this, you will want to manually turn the washer to a spin cycle. During this, the water should drain away. Of course, if it does spin and the water does drain, you will want to look into why it skipped this cycle. Sometimes the answer is simply that the washer was clogged at the time, but is not anymore.

If the washer didn’t drain, now you can disconnect it from the power. Next, you will want to lift the drain hose out of the standpipe and check the end for clogs. Sometimes lint will build up in the area where the hose meets the standpipe, and that can cause your washer not to drain.

If there was no visible clog in the drain hose, finally you want to try lowering the hose into the bucket. What this is testing is that if the washer will drain using the power of gravity alone. If it does, it can help you narrow it down to some other problems, namely the drain pump. However, if it doesn’t drain into a bucket when brought low, then it is likely that there is a clog somewhere deeper that you can’t see.

Removing Water From a Washer

After you have done your initial troubleshooting above, now is the time when you can give in to that impulse to drain your washer. To check for deeper clogs or other issues, you will need the washer free of water to avoid making a mess. Start by unplugging your washer if you have not already. If you have a shop vac that does wet work, you can use that to drain your washer.

Unfortunately, if you do not have access to a shop vac that allows for water suction, you will have to do it the old fashioned way, which is bailing out the water with a small bucket and soaking up whatever remains with a few towels.

Checking For Drain Hose Clogs

A clog in your drain hose is most common at the end where it meets the standpipe, but they can really occur anywhere. After disconnecting the hose from the back of your washer, you can do a visual inspection by looking through one end to see if you can see clear through to the other.

In the event that your hose is clogged, you can work to remove the clog with an object or you can easily replace the hose if the clog will not come loose.

This is also a good time to check your standpipe for blockages or potential clogs by poking your object in there as well.

Checking the Drain Pump

Finally, the last possible cause for this type of issue is the drain pump. It is difficult, but sometimes a small piece of cloth, like little baby socks, can end up working their way into the drain pump and will create clogs. When this happens, the washer physically cannot drain.

To check the drain pump, you will need to disconnect the drain hose if you have not already, then disconnect your washer from the power and water. You will then need to tip your top load washer forward so that you can access the drain pump on the bottom. You may wish to lay down a towel for padding and recruit some help so you don’t end up dropping the appliance too hard.

Once you have access to the drain pump, you will want to start by disconnecting the hose to check for clogs there. You may need a wrench to remove the clamp securing this hose. If your short hose connecting the drain pump to the drain hose checks out, you can remove the mounting screws on the drain pump itself. Once done, you can check the area in which the drain pump connects to the actual tub of the washer.

At this point, you would have found your clog if you had one. However, if your washer did drain using gravity, then this means that the drain pump you are holding in your hand has gone bad. It is not moving the water using the pump function out of the washer. However, because you already have it located and uninstalled, installing a replacement pump is as simple as getting the replacement part and screwing it in.


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