Can you repair a leaking washing machine drum?
Yes, it’s sometimes possible to do an effective repair, and this article tells you how. Washing machine outer drums (or tubs) always used to be made of metal. But almost all washing machine manufacturers have long since changed over to cheaper plastic. Now they can no longer rust, which is great, but there is a big disadvantage. Coins, or other obstructions, can now all too easily damage a drum, causing it to leak – or even flood.
Coins are a common cause, but anything metal can damage the drum. If you find just a thin crack, then it was probably caused by the impact of an object. This object will still be inside the washing machine somewhere.
If there’s a large hole in the drum, the object may have been punched right through. See if you can find it on the floor or in the base. If this object remains inside the machine, it can cause more damage, so you need to find it before any repair.
Carefully examine the inner drum for dents, which are evidence of an obstruction. Check inside the sump hose and pump filter. Also lean the machine over from side to side and front to back to see if anything slides around in the drum.
Holes in the drum can be hard or impossible to fix (although I do mention something to try later). If you just end up with a small crack, you can sometimes carry out a successful repair.
You must find the cause of the crack
If there is something inside the drum, you can usually hear it slide about. This article might help if there is something inside that you can’t get at – How to remove something stuck in washing machine.
How to repair a cracked drum
In the case of a thin crack in a drum that’s leaking water, I’ve successfully repaired many of them with a soldering iron.
It’s not the only method, but it’s worked for me. You have to be careful not to put too much pressure on, though. The point on a standard soldering iron is pretty small. So if you aren’t careful, you can potentially go through a drum with a hot soldering iron like a knife through butter.
Get the soldering iron nice and hot, then gently go over the crack to melt the surrounding plastic and seal it up. I try to bring some of the plastic from each side of the crack over to melt into the crack. It may be necessary to unplug the iron if you can’t get close enough. In which case you may need to keep plugging it back in to keep it hot enough as you go along.
Ideally, the crack should be sealed from inside and out. But these days that’s often impractical because many drums are welded together. Many can’t be stripped down now, by design. If by any chance you have stripped one down to investigate the leak before discovering the crack, then that’s an opportunity to seal it on the inside too.
Using washing machine sealant
After sealing up a crack, I like to add a skin of sealant as a second defence. Washing machine engineers use a special flexible and heat-resistant sealant called Debor sealant. Rough up the surroundings with sandpaper and apply a large patch.
Using special sealing tape
Alternatively, I’ve recently discovered special sealing tape that looks ideal for covering up a crack – as long as the crack is over a flat piece of the drum.
I used Gorilla tape to fix a leak on my roof gutter, which was advertised as weatherproof and waterproof. I assume it would be useful for this type of leak too. I would put plenty on and use lots of overlaps. Keep an eye on it.
Repairing hole in drum
If there is a hole in the drum, especially a large hole, or one that’s in an awkward spot, you may need a new outer drum – or replacement washing machine*.
If the hole is small, or in an accessible place, and especially if you have the piece of plastic that’s been punched out, you may be able to do a repair…
If the plastic piece fits back OK and doesn’t push through into the drum, try sticking it in place with epoxy resin like Araldite.
Once stuck in place, you would need to seal the edges with the soldering iron as above. Then cover the whole repair with the tape I mention above.
If you carry out a repair but it fails, you could experience a disastrous flood. So don’t attempt any drum repair unless confident it will never leak again.
Don’t forget that if you do not identify what caused the damage, and remove the obstruction from inside the washing machine it could do it again.
Using washing machine sealant
After sealing up a crack, I’ve usually added a skin of sealant to help shore up the repair. Washing machine engineers use a special flexible and heat-resistant sealant called Debor sealant. Rough up the surroundings with sandpaper and apply a large patch.
* Can you claim on home insurance?
If you have accidental damage cover on your home contents insurance, then you may be covered if something gets inside the washing machine and causes fatal damage. Let me know if you are successful.
Fixed-price repairs, Pay monthly, Repair & protect your whole appliance..
50% off annual membership
Subscribe to Which? today and save 30% on Digital Annual subscription for your first year. Offer ends 18.03.24. This offer is only available for new Which? annual subscriptions (excluding Gardening, Travel, Computing or Money packages).