If your washing machine is stuck full of water you need to drain it out before trying to repair it. If you are buying a new one instead, you still need to drain out all the water so you can move it. (If you’ve already drained the water out and want to troubleshoot why it didn’t empty read this – Washing Machine Won’t Drain Water)
The best methods for getting the water out of a washing machine are listed in suggested order. Try method 1 first. If that’s not working for you go on to method 2. If necessary fall back on the alternative methods.
I strongly suggest that if you want to prevent getting in a tangle – read the whole article carefully before attempting anything. You will find the whole process easier and less fraught with problems if you’ve read it all.
If the washer went dead during the cycle
First though, if the washing machine has gone dead leaving it full of water it may be worth checking this article washing machine is dead wont start. If you get the washer going again it should pump the water out itself. If you can’t get it running or the washer is running but won’t pump out then follow the rest of this advice.
Watch out for new plumbing installations
Have you just plumbed the washer into a u-bend? Or moved house and connected it to an existing u-bend? If so, and the first time you used it the washing machine didn’t pump out there might be a simple fix. The u-bend device has a blanked end that needs cutting off when new. Or a blanking piece may have been refitted when the last person disconnected their washing machine – washer doesn’t drain after being moved
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1: Drain via pump filter drain tube
As an engineer, the first thing I would do is disconnect the washing machine, pull it out, and try to drain the water out by laying the drain hose down into washing up bowl. However, a washing machine full of water is extremely heavy and this may not be appropriate for many people. A much slower but less involved method might be worth trying first.
There might be a pump filter at the front, behind a small flap or behind the kick strip (check instruction book). If yours has a small draining tube at the side of the filter this is the easiest way to get the water out. It can be slow and laborious but not too messy. If no water comes out of the drain tube, or the trickle is extremely slow, there is likely to be a sock or some other blockage preventing draining. You will need to be extremely patient – or take a different approach.
If you don’t have a draining tube in the pump filter, or it’s just far too slow, you will need to try method 2. (Method 4 however focuses on using the pump filter but is a bit risky unless well prepared and strong).
2: Draining the water out
The washing machine needs pulling out first. This can be difficult when full of water and laundry (best way to pull washing machine out). Once the machine is out, take the drain hose and lower the end into a bowl. In most cases the water will then siphon into the bowl.
If the drain hose is pushed into a standpipe you can just pull it out. However, most washing machines are now connected to the u-bend under the sink. If yours is connected there you can easily unscrew it. Note that with the drain hose disconnected from the u-bend, any water poured down the sink will flood into the cupboard. You can try blocking it with a dishcloth (or similar). Alternatively put the plug in the sink or just ensure no one uses the sink until the drain hose is reconnected.
Once unscrewed from the u-bend you will need to pull the drain hose out of the cupboard to be able to lower it into a bowl. If they didn’t drill a large enough hole in the side of the cupboard you might find the drain hose won’t pull through. If so you will have to take out the plastic spigot piece from the end of the hose.
When lowering into a bowl, if you find water doesn’t siphon out or it is extremely slow there is probably a sock or similar stuck inside the machine. Either that or the filter is completely blocked. If so you would need to try alternative methods described below.
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Alternative ways of draining the water
The following suggestions are more involved and less attractive. Make sure you have plenty of bath towels close by, and maybe a mop and bucket. Always disconnect washing machine from electricity supply!
Siphoning or scooping water out
Some of the water could be drained by siphoning the water directly from the drum using a tube, or just manually ladling it out. This could be an option worth considering in the right circumstances although it would only drain the water down to the bottom of the inner drum. There’s a lot more more water underneath the drum than you might expect.
However, it could get enough of it out to make the washing machine lighter and more manoeuvrable. It might also assist in draining via the main drain hose or the pump filter if a blockage is causing a very slow drain. You would need a washing machine that allows the door to open when water is inside the machine.
Make sure the water level isn’t above the lip of the drum. This is unlikely with modern washing machines but some very old washing machines may have higher water levels. Finally, do not try to force the door open. If it will not open, forcing it may well break something and cause more problems and expense.
Never lay a washing machine down if it has water inside. Water could seep out onto electrical parts and cause big problems.
Draining via the pump filter
As an engineer I developed a crude but effective method of draining the water directly through the pump filter. If there’s no pump filter then forget this method (where is the pump filter?)
Also, don’t try this without a second person to help hold the washing machine. Otherwise it could slip over backwards, or drop onto your hands – especially on a tiled floor.
My method involved pulling the machine forward far enough to be able to tilt it back. Preferably against the kitchen worktop. I then placed a (strong) washing up bowl under the machine under where the pump filter is. With the washing machine’s front resting on top of the bowl, I then carefully partially opened or unscrewed the filter and allowed the water to pour into the bowl.
Warning: this is messy – and the water can come out very fast! When the bowl is full the filter can be tightened back up and the bowl emptied. By repeating I can drain the washing machine quite quickly and without having to pull it right out. Don’t try if the washer is full of hot water.
Be warned that if you get it wrong, and the filter comes completely out or the washer falls forward you will get a big flood of water gushing all over the place. Make sure you have loads of towels ready to mop up. Do not try this method if you have laminated floor which can be badly damaged if flooded with water and only use it if you can’t get the water out using the other methods.
Washing machine pump filter stuck?
I’ve had cases where the filter appeared to be jammed and wouldn’t come out. It proved to be an under wire from a bra or another obstruction that was entangled in it preventing it from unscrewing. I had to remove the main sump hose leading into the pump and retrieve the obstruction from there.
This then allowed me to get the filter out. Warning: You can’t do this if the washing machine is full of water. If you can’t drain out the water through the drain hose or pump filter tube and the filter won’t come off you will need to drain as much out as possible directly from the drum as described earlier. You may well be better getting in an engineer – Book white goods appliance repairs.
Once you’ve drained the washing machine
Check this article – washing machine won’t pump water out