Can’t Find a Blockage But Washing Machine Still Not Draining

Puzzled If you have a washing machine that is not pumping out the water and stuck full of water – don’t start here. This is the final advice if you’ve tried all the advice on my article won’t drain water. However, if you can hear or see that the pump is running, but water still isn’t being pumped out and you can’t find a blockage – then continue with this article.

Pump has no blockages, filter is clear, and it runs but it still won’t drain water

So if your situation is that no water is being pumped out, but the pump is apparently running, and you’ve checked the pump and filter for blockages and found nothing here are the possible explanations..

There is a blockage but you just haven’t found it

Small objects may not be noticed. They could be underneath the impeller, wrapped round the impeller or stuck inside the pump chamber out of sight.

An elastic band or elastic from a hair bobble, a small piece of torn strap from a bra, a large piece of grit or stone, a small screw, a piece of plastic etc. items like these and other similar obstructions could all cause the impeller to slow down and not be capable of creating the vortex required to force out the water. Rubber bands and similar can wrap around the impeller restricting its movement.

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Other items could get trapped underneath the impeller out of sight and also restrict its movement. In all these cases it should be detectable by trying to turn the impeller with a finger or screwdriver (with the machine unplugged of course!). It should move freely.

However, some impellers may feel like there’s a small resistance which when overcome allows the impeller to jump 180 degrees round. Then another small resistance needs overcoming before it jumps round again. Without knowing how free an impeller should be it’s hard to diagnose but if one is quite tight all the way round it is probably obstructed.

Shirt-button A button of a specific size could be small enough to get through the pump filter and even past the impeller, but then get jammed inside the pump outlet chamber where the drain hose attaches to. This would be invisible unless the drain hose is removed and you look into it.

Another common blockage here that can remain undetected is a small piece of a bra wire that got through into the pump outlet chamber and has jammed inside. Subsequently most of the fluff and threads that would normally pump away can get snagged on it and build up into a blockage.

There is a blockage in the drain hose or connection under the sink

Drain hose goes up from spigot A button of a specific size could be small enough to get past the pump and into the drain hose, but be too large to pass through the drain hose or through the plastic spout on the u-bend that the drain hose may be connected to.This could completely stop water from being pumped out, or it could even manifest as an intermittent fault.

I’ve seen several cases where a button is jammed halfway up inside a drain hose or in the opening of the plastic spout of the u-bend connection but it spins round and acts like a butterfly valve. When swivelled round one way water can get past, but then the water flow can swivel it round again so that it stops the water flow. To check for this you’d need to disconnect the drain hose from the u-bend and examine the end of the drain hose and inside the spout itself to check for blockages.

If necessary, the drain hose can also be taken off the machine to see if you can detect any obstruction. I’ve managed to clear some large obstructions by shoving the end of the drain hose onto the cold tap at the sink and turning on the water. Be careful though, you can easily end up spraying water everywhere. I use a large dishcloth over the hose and hold on tight. If there’s no blockage though or it’s something that’s swivelled round and not closing off the flow you shouldn’t feel much pressure.

The pump itself is faulty

If the impeller is broken it could be spinning on the shaft. In other words although the pump rotor is spinning it is not turning the impeller that forces the water out or due to slippage on the shaft it is not turning fast enough.

The pump could sound like it’s running but in fact it is not revolving at speed inside, however, I would expect it to sound different to normal.

It’s even possible for the pump to be oscillating instead of revolving because of a fault causing it not to spin properly. You would have to use your imagination to find out if either of these are the case. It’s relatively rare.

Watch out if your problem has only occurred after connecting the washing machine to new plumbing after moving house or after someone has put new plumbing in your current house and after connecting the washing machine it will not drain when it did before – Watch out for the blanking piece in new plumbing installations – particularly at new houses

This one is likely to be rare, but worth mentioning. I’ve recently had email contact from Michael, who had a strange fault where he could find no blockages, the pump was running, and it initially pumped a little water out then stopped.

After some struggle and determined investigation he eventually discovered that one of the suspension springs on his Hotpoint Aquarius washing machine had broken (under the lid).

This had caused the main drum to drop, which squashed the sump hose (the main hose leading from the bottom of the tub to the pump) causing it to kink. When he replaced the spring, the tub was held in its proper position and released the pressure on the sump hose allowing it to pump out properly again.

Related pump troubleshooting advice:

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62 thoughts on “Can’t Find a Blockage But Washing Machine Still Not Draining”

  1. heyas..

    So.. I have taken all the bottom section of the washing machine apart- (not as glamorous as they make it look on utube with the woman with fancy nails, a pearl bracelet and her cashmere jumper..

    about 10L of water spilled all over the floor when I removed one of the pipes (from drum to filter) I can see there is no blockage there.
    have removed the pipe after the filter/ pump and washed it- no blockages,
    inspected pump- no stuff inside..

    When the machine was “draining” I heard a ticking noise- as if it wasn’t able to engage with whatever it had to do.. no water drained at all- therefore I think it’s the pump, but I haven’t got the means to check the electrics in the pump.. can’t I just get a pump and fit it?

    There is an electric connection to the pump- but I figured if the pump ticks- then the electrics still are getting to it- so by default the pump is unhappy.

    so please tell me I have checked all and I can just go ahead and buy the pump and it will all be working again!- is there a chance I have missed something?

  2. Andy. I’ve checked and rechecked for blockages. There are none.
    As far as the pump working I hear a soft humm coming from the machine
    during the drain-spin cycle. Is this the pump or something else? Thanks.

  3. Hello Danny. If there is definitely no blockage anywhere, and you have checked all the places mentioned in this article, plus the pump appears to be getting power because it is making a noise but it is not pumping the water out than the only possible explanation is that the pump is not actually running. The pumps don’t normally make a soft humming noise, they are quite noisy and rattly. A soft hum would imply that the pump is getting power but it is just not running. This can of course be caused, and is often most likely caused, by a very small obstruction jamming the impeller. But it can be caused by a faulty pump too.

    You need to remove the pump and carefully inspect inside to see if you can find anything like a hair grip, a small stone, elastic band or any of the other common obstructions that can jam a pump. If you cannot find anything then the pump is probably faulty, although obviously without seeing it I cannot give 100% assurance.

    If you want to buy a new pump consider using this site’s spares affiliate Buy washing machine pump (best prices guaranteed).

  4. Can you help please when i move the washing machine to put it back it feels like theres water in it still even after draining it at the bottom with a saucepan.or is it the drum moving around.

  5. Hello Andy. If you move a washing machine the main outer tub will move about because it is suspended on suspension dampers. So this could possibly be the movement you are feeling. If it wasn’t draining the water properly it would usually cause problems on the wash cycle and particularly spin. There will normally be some water left in a washing machine because the water pumps cannot pump every last drop out. There shouldn’t be any inside the drum, but after completing the wash cycle if you were to undo the drain filter, or lower the drain hose onto the floor you should find roughly a small saucepan full of water will drain out. If there is more than one saucepan full then you could have a partial blockage.

  6. I am having the same error code F-21 for slow drain but now my washer wont drain at all. Cleaned out the filter, removed the hose from washer to pump and the one from pump to drain and ran water through them outside, they are clear. also ran hose down drain and no problems there. Finally took drain pump completely out and apart and found that the magnet behind the impeller was cracked. Still have to order the part so will let you know if this fixes the problem otherwise I am at a loss as to what to do next. Is there something else it could be?

  7. Hi Laura, they don’t normally sell any parts for a washing machine pump so you may need to buy a complete pump. If there are definitely no blockages and the pump is definitely running but no water pumps out you can only really suspect the pump, and if you’ve found something broken inside it’s reasonable to suspect that’s the cause.

    You can buy pumps from my affiliate Ransom Spareswashing machine pumps who guarantee the best prices.

  8. Hi Andy, just read all the comments and all your answers, you’re a star ! I have an Indestic IWDC 7145 and it stopped draining, all lights flashing. I removed the pump, cleaned the big black hose from washer to pump and found some coins etc which went past the ball, I removed everything so it should all be clean. The drain hose is free too, water coming through it. I started the machine, and it just spurts a bit of water for a second then stops, silence. What else should I try ? Should I change the pump or is there still something I can try ? Many thanks

  9. Thanks Peter, but I’ve put everything I can think of in the article. If it pumps for a second then stops then unless the pump is cutting out which is very unusual so soon there might be a blockage in the drain hose or somewhere. The answer is definitely in this article somewhere.

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