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

  1. Hi Andy, what a great service you supply here. I have a hotpoint HP6F160 not more than two years old. It decided to stop draining.
    I read all the comments about blockages so I have had the machine on its side and checked all the pipes. I took the pump apart and checked the pump was working and not blocked. All seems good, I watched the spinning part rotate. I put it all back together and filled it with water.
    I asked it kindly to drain and switched it to the drain mode. I heard a nice click, waited about 20 seconds then it pumped out some water for about 5 seconds and then stopped. (It did only run when I had it apart for about five seconds, when I tested it).
    I feel pretty certain it isn’t blocked, ( I did once make the mistake of throwing an old machine out when all that was wrong was a tiddlywink in the plumbing) and suspect there must be some kind of sensor at the base of the drum which is telling the little pump to stop? Any thoughts or suggestions will be great fully received. Dave W

  2. Thanks Dave. The first thing I would do is to try letting it pump into a bucket held about waist height. This would make sure it isn’t anything to do with a blockage in the U-bend under the sink.

    If the pump empties water out for several seconds then stops you need to detect whether or not it has stopped because the pump has cut out, or if the pump is still running but something is preventing it from pumping any more water out. So when it stops pumping the water, has the pump stopped running, or is it still running but no longer able to pump? It may be that the noise of the pump stops, but if you carefully check you may be able to hear the gentle humming if the pump is locked up, or very very carefully be able to detect vibration.

    This is the key to troubleshooting this fault. If the pump continues to run when it stops then it is almost certainly a blockage somewhere. If it stops completely, and is not even trying to run then the pump could be faulty, or something small inside could be jamming it intermittently.

  3. Hi !

    Your topic is very well covered, thank you. I’m finding myself in situation 3 where I filtered every possible failure down to the pump itself. I’m getting 120V on the connection to the pump and the pump is turning, it’s turning really fast too, I almost destroyed it trying to stop the impeller with a pair of longnose. Though, I feel like the pump is oscillating, it is hard to tell just by watching it because it’s going too fast. During my testing, I knew the pump was running but it couldn’t get the water out even with my hose at the same level as the water inside the washer. It is also making a strange sound, like it isn’t running smoothly… krik, krik, krik, krik (wasn’t doing that before !).

    I was wondering if it is possible to fix this issue myself, I tried to look on the internet but I didn’t find anything.

    Thanks for your help

  4. Hello Tim. I’m assuming you’re not in the UK? I deal with UK appliances which run on 230 V. However the principles should be virtually the same. It sounds like the pump impeller is firmly fixed onto the shaft, which rules out one possibility. So if it is running as you say, “fast”, then there are only 2 possible explanations. Either the impeller isn’t actually spinning round and just oscillating back and forth, in which case you need a new pump, or it is spinning round fast, in which case there has to be a blockage in one of the hoses leading to and from the pump, one of the chambers the hoses attach to or in the u-bend if the drain hose is connected to a plastic spout.

    The fact that the pump is making an unusual noise could implicate a fault on the pump though if the pump isn’t actually expelling any water out that could change the noise it makes.

    As you say it is difficult to see if the impeller is revolving or oscillating but if it was oscillating back and forth instead of spinning round I would expect it to be more easily stopped than if it is spinning round at its normal speed. If shining a bright torch in doesn’t help determine if the impeller is spinning you could try carefully placing something against it at an angle that shouldn’t stop it but would allow the impeller to ride over it. This would let you feel if it is spinning or not. However, your description of it really damaging the pump when you tried to stop it strongly implies that the impeller is in fact spinning with plenty of force to expel water.

  5. Very useful info here, Andy, and I’ve followed all of your advice with my malfunctioning Hotpoint Aquarius WMPF 742.

    All tubing dismantled, checked for blockages and put back together, drain hose checked, etc. But the Error F05 kept coming up, with the machine not draining and stopping just before the spin. I thought the fault must therefore be with the pump. Interestingly, when I turned the machine off after the F05 came up, the machine turned itself back on after a few minutes, all ready to repeat the drain and spin cycle!

    This morning I did one final check by running a drain/spin cycle, which worked partially with some draining sounds and the gentle pre-spins, but that too soon came up with the F05 error.

    So I bought a new pump and fitted it. But the problem persisted.

    This was making me think there’s a PCB problem, or some other issue. But when I turned the machine off and back on, there was a series of beeps and the normal mode light flashed. Then everything on the front panel went off, and has stayed off since. The whole thing is now as dead as a Norwegian Blue parrot.

    Have I killed it? Or might it have been a PCB problem all along? Guess it’s time to call out an engineer…

  6. I have a Eurotech EWP 172…. front load washing machine.

    Problem: the water is not draining from the inside tub….

    What I have done… the pump is working ( I took it apart and there was only a small strand of fabric around bottom of impeller / I removed this) This did not fix the problem…. Still the water will not drain…

    I checked the drain filter before the pump and it is not blocked…. Curious that it would not drain with this plug and screen removed…. the blockage must be between the tub and drain… am I correct with the plug removed it should drain?… I have run it several times and it seems some crud is coming out….

    How do you clean from the tub to the drain screen? (Btw I have checked the hoses that I can see and they are not blocked.

    Can someone help me out?


  7. Hello Tim, There is just a sump hose between the main tub and the pump, sometimes with a plastic ball inside. Remove and check this hose and make sure any ball isn’t sticky and sticking where it would b;lock the water. If water is still inside the drum and won’t come out something must be inside the drum blocking the hole where the sump hose fits though that is unusual.

  8. Seems mad you wouldn’t mention the sump hose can get blocked before the filter. I’ve just spent hours messing around with what could of been a 30 minute fix

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hi Liam. Great to hear you found the problem. However, you used the wrong article. This article specifically starts out with, “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, washing machine won’t drain water

      That article does mention the sump hose as a possible place for blockages :)

  9. Intermittent pumping. The filter is clean. I took the pump out and checked that it worked properly in a bucket of water. The culprit was a 5cm plastic ball in the drum drain (black rubber bit under the drum). I have no idea how it got there.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hi Mick. The Ball is to seal off the sump hose. If it gets covered in sticky detergent and grunge though, it can stick and prevent water being pumped away. I used to throw them away. Washing machines didn’t have them for 40 years and worked OK. They are supposed to prevent detergent going into the sump hose where it would be wasted.

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