How to install a Washing Machine

Installing washing machineAs an engineer with over 30 years experience I have useful advice and tips to help you connect a washing machine up and avoid some problems. You should already have the plumbing available (plumbing in a washing machine is a plumbing issue) and full instructions should come with the washing machine. My advice is about things not covered in any instructions.

A new washing machine will arrive fully protected for transit, not only externally, but internally too. Special transit packing is installed inside the washing machine to hold the tub solid and prevent it moving about. If used without removing the transit packaging the suspension will be locked and the washing machine will bounce around on spin potentially causing damage.

How hard is it to install a washing machine?

It should normally be very straight forward, with no specialist knowledge or tools required. It’s just a matter of removing the transit packaging as instructed in the instruction book (or on a leaflet taped to the washer) and then screwing on the fill hose(s) and connecting the drain hose to the waste water system.

Make sure the washer is level

Spirit-level It’s important to make sure the washing machine is nice and level so that it doesn’t rock around on spin. Check that it’s level not only across from left to right, but from front to back. In other words makes sure it doesn’t tilt forward or back as well as being level. If it tilts forward it’s possible for water to leak out of the soap drawer in certain circumstances. These days most washing machines have adjustable feet, at least at the front. Sometimes a spanner for adjusting the feet comes with the machine.

The best thing is to try and tip the machine back slightly whilst you adjust the feet which will make it considerably easier to screw them in or out. Once level many have locking nuts to tighten up which should prevent them loosening up. If locking nuts are fitted it will be necessary to undo them before you can screw a foot in. If by any chance the feet are not adjustable and you have a rocking washing machine you will need to wedge something under to level it, cardboard, folded paper or a proper wedge will all do but most will be subject to needing occasional adjustment as movement of the washer may move it.

If you don’t have a spirit level then the best you can do is try to make it so it looks level and doesn’t rock side to side or front to back. However, if you have a smart phone you may be able to download a spirit level app. I have a great one on my iPhone called Dual Level Pro, which once calibrated is excellent. Unfortunately though, you ideally need a spirit level to check a particular surface (like a desk, table or kitchen worktop) is actually level so you can place the phone on it and calibrate it before you first use it. You could still try assuming one of these places is pretty level though.

Tips for installing a washing machine: The Fill Hoses.

There are several potential problems related to the fill hoses on a washing machine –

Can I use the old washing machine hoses or should I fit the new ones?

Fill hose Washing machine hoses can last much longer than washing machines these days. If you are sure the old ones are in perfectly good condition you could leave them in place and keep the new hoses as spares, particularly if the new fill hoses aren’t as long as your old ones and won’t fit (which is common). Personally, I prefer to fit the new hoses if I can though and have to advise it is best practice for obvious reasons.

How tight should I connect the fill hoses?

It’s very common for people to over tighten them. Over tightening makes them more likely to leak, which is counter-intuitive. This is because it cuts and damages the rubber seal between the water valve and the hose. Make sure you don’t cross-thread the connector (I’ve always preferred to lightly lubricate the thread on the hose with WD40 which makes it easier to screw on but this isn’t necessary). Tighten the hose finger tight.

Once firmly finger-tight I then tighten it just a fraction more. I would describe it as screwing the hose about 2 – 5 mm tighter than I got it by hand – but if you have a strong grip it may be unnecessary to tighten it further. I tighten with pipe pliers. You aren’t supposed to use pipe pliers because you can easily over do it, but I always do (although delicately). If I don’t have pipe pliers I use a cloth to get a little extra grip. Remember, if you over tighten you can cut the thin rubber washer inside which will start to leak – not always instantly.

Watch the hose and connections for leaks

Leaking hoses Check for leaks, and check again at least several minutes later before pushing the washing machine back. A hose connection can appear watertight at first, but start dripping after several minutes or longer, or after moving the washer back into place. Once the washer is back in place you can’t usually check so you need to make sure there are no slow drips.

A very slow drip can continue unnoticed for years and cause damage. Keep checking the connections at the tap end if the taps are visible once the machine is in place. Keep an eye on them over the following days as I’ve had many which stared to drip when they were perfectly fine when checking at installation point.

Fill Hose not long enough?

It's common for washing machine hoses to be too short to reach the plumbing. The fill hoses are just long enough to connect to plumbing right next to the washing machine. The two choices available are to either extend the existing fill hoses by connecting another pair of fill hoses with a special fill hose connector, or to replace the fill hoses with extra long ones. (Buy washing machine fill hoses)

Watch for kinked hoses

When you push the washing machine back in place make sure you don’t kink the fill hose(s). If no water comes into the machine or it comes in too slowly check you haven’t kinked athe fill hose.

This article is continued – Check out Part 2 – How to install a washing machine drain hose which looks at the drain hose and issues with water pressure.


More information and advice on installing a washing machine

More information

In these tough times, wasting money is not an option. Do some research first. Which? have a genuine no-strings trial offer. For only £1 you get the following benefits -

  • 1 month access to all the information & reviews on Which? Online
  • Access to Which? Local - a database of Which? members recommended tradesmen and reviews
  • A copy of the Which? magazine delivered to your door
  • Access to Which? Legal Services
  • Get your Which? offer | What's the catch?



  1. avatarStruggling says

    I wish your article had mentioned in more depth on how to make a washing machine is level and the procedure of going about it, being a novice it would have been helpful. I recently bought a Zanussi ZWH120P after much research. But the information booklet on making the machine level was not clear enough for me. Some companies even supply you with a wrench for the specific purpose which is considerate. It would have been helpful if Zanussi had done so because I will have to go out and purchase one and am not sure what size adjustable wrench to buy.

  2. avatarPeter says

    There is a blocker nut on the pipe I need to connect to. But when I try to Un tighten it the pipe moves as well has anybody got any suggestion thanks

  3. avatar says

    You need two pipe pliers or pipe pliers and a pair of vice grips, or a pair of pipe pliers and a spanner. Basically the body of the tap needs holding with some pliers or grips whilst you turn the nut.

  4. avatarYvonne Rankine says

    Hi there. I had a washer dryer installed today and the waste pipe from the machine was just placed into the white pipe already plumbed in from the previous tenant. I was told I could just tape this in place. is this correct? Is there a part I can buy to make it more secure? Thanks

  5. avatar says

    Hello Yvonne. I’m assuming it pushes into a stand pipe rather than connecting to a plastic spigot at the u-bend. If it pushes into a stand pipe there should be a drain hose crook that forces the end of the drain hose into a shepherds hook configuration. The drain hose then just drops into the standpipe and shouldn’t come out.

    A better idea (including a link to a picture of a drain hose crook) can be found in my article Tips for connecting a washing machine.

    I have actually taped drain hoses in place in the past when I didn’t have a proper drain hose hook though it’s not ideal. You especially shouldn’t tape one up in a way that seals the drain hose in because an air gap is between the drain hose and the standpipe helps the water to run through the pipe.

  6. avatarSuzy says

    Any tips for how a to get a washing machine under a worktop apart from Brut force? The machine has adjustable feet on the front and rubber pads at the back. The space is big enough but there isn’t much room to manoeuvre. Thanks

  7. avatarPhilippa Bromley says

    Hi, I’ve just moved house with my (fairly new) washing machine. Previously the outflow pipe just hooked into the waste pipe (with a shepherds crook bend) but now thesame washing machine pipe actually fits over the waste pipe instead of inside it. It seems a tight fit (the removal men did it for me) but should it have some kind of extra tightening around it to stop leaks? e.g one of those metal collars with a tightening facility (can’t remember the name!) The pipe contact is about 2″ long.

  8. avatar says

    Hi Philippa. That kind of system isn’t ideal though I can’t say for certain whether it will cause any problems or not. The issue is that it should pump into a stand pipe with air gap around the pipe. By connecting it directly to a pipe you are in effect lengthening the drain hose which can make it pump out slower.

    If the pipe just goes straight down and out though the wall to a drain it might not be so bad, but if it runs along cupboards and especially if it then goes up at some point then the pump may not be powerful enough to force the water all that way or may only manage it at reduced speed. Theoretically this could cause time out errors or reduced rinsing efficiency and different washing machines may be affected or not affected depending on how they work and other factors.

    Regarding fixing, it might be safer to have a jubilee clip or one of those plastic tie straps on unless its a nice tight fit.

  9. avatars fearn says

    Really struggling to get a satisfactory seal on the inlet hose. The plumbing is directly above the waste pipe so I can’t get a straight angle to attach the hose. It’s a pity they don’t have such a thing as a double right angle hose connector, that would solve the problem.

    The inlet hose has a rather large ring connector and the pipe itself is quite inflexible. I’m going to try buying a different hose, but may well have the same difficult overcoming the angle.

  10. avatars fearn says

    Thank you for the tip.

    I believe the fact that the hose was stretched at an angle meant that in every other respect the connection had to be perfect to create a water tight seal.

    Indeed I was considering alterations to the pipe work.

    However on a about the twentieth attempt and about a week on I have finally got that seal.

    Just made sure that everything else was as perfect as possible, a shiny wire wooled thread, WD40 to make a smooth as possible turn to counteract the angle and not over tightening.

  11. avatarSteve says

    Hi there,

    Just bought a second hand Hygena APM8702 Washer/Dryer. It came with the hot and cold water feeds unattached.
    Do you know which hose goes to which connection on the back of the machine?

  12. avatar says

    Hello Steve the hot water valve should be red in colour, or if both are white then they should be marked R or C. If nothing is marked then cold is usually on the right side as you look at it from the back. There’s a 50/50 chance of getting it right anyway, so if connected, just put the machine on a rinse cycle and make sure only cold water is coming in, if hot swap them over.

  13. avatartracy says

    Help. I have just moved into a new house. I have tried to connect the washer. The hoses on the washer are too big to connect to the pipes. How do I solve this problem?

  14. avatarsheila hegarty says

    Which way do the little blue and red taps face on a washing machine,towards you away from you or on the side

  15. avatar says

    Tracy, I’m assuming you mean the fill hoses, though every washing machine fill hose ever made should fit, nothing has changed with the actual connections and thread for decades. If you mean the drain hose then even they should be standard.

    Sheila: When they are at right angles to the tap they are off, when they line up with the tap and if they were actual arrows would be pointing in the direction of the water flow they are on. However, these red and blue levers commonly break or crack so sometimes when you turn them you aren’t actually turning the tap.

  16. avatarA. Robinson says

    Hi we have moved into a property & our washing machine just fits in the space ( touching sink on 1 side & bath on other side, plenty of room front & back.) I can slide it in & out fairly easily (as in it not wedged).. Is this safe , we appear to have no problems so far after a Month or so. Thanks

  17. avatar says

    Ideally there would be at least a quarter of an inch gap all the way around but I’ve seen many washing machines virtually wedged in place. If there is space above and below the machine, then at least there should be room for some airflow. If a washing machine was to bang about violently due to an out of balance load (or a fault) it could potentially cause damage to surrounding fittings. These days it should be fairly rare though because all washing machines now have out of balance protection. It doesn’t always work too well but it’s not like the old days when they could completely go crazy for the full duration of the spin and do a lot of damage.

Comments Moderated:

Comments must be on topic or they won't be published. Please don't ask questions that are answered in the article itself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *