Washing machine fills with water when off

This article looks at how a washing machine can fill with water when switched off. Sometimes overnight. When a washing machine is not in use, water may slowly seep inside, so that when you come to use it, you notice water in the bottom of the drum.

It could be clean water, or dirty water. It’s important to work out which type of water it is, because they have different sources.

There are only 2 places where water can get into a washing machine’s drum. Either seeping through a faulty water valve, or coming in through the drain hose. It’s impossible for water to get in any other way.

If the water is very clean, it might be coming in through a water valve. If it is dirty, it may be coming in through the drain hose. Both possibilities are described in detail below.

Water coming in through a water valve

If this is the problem, the water in the drum should be clean. When a water valve isn’t being used, it obviously shouldn’t let any water through – even if the water supply is still turned on.

It’s possible for a fault inside the valve to prevent it from shutting off properly. Or a small bit of grit or debris could get past the filter, and stop it from closing off properly.

The latter is unlikely though, unless it’s an old washing machine, or maybe there is some damage to the filter. Either of these issues can result in water slowly seeping into the machine.

Water rising inside the drum may only be noticed if the washing machine is left unused (with the water tap left on) overnight, or over a several day period. This is why, ideally, you should always turn off the taps after using the washing machine.

Water Pressure Too Low

A third possible valve related cause is if the water pressure is very low. Bizarrely, the valves rely on a minimum amount of water pressure to push against a rubber flange and shut water off. You can get water seeping past the seal inside if the water pressure is extremely low.

The first thing to try is to turn off the taps

If the water inside the drum is clean, then water could be getting past the water valve. Turn off the water tap(s) to the washing machine. Does this stop the water coming in?

If it doesn’t, move onto the drain hose possibility below. However, you must ensure the tap is not faulty by removing the fill hose from the machine and ensuring no water comes through with the tap turned off.

This is the only way to be 100% sure water is being properly turned off. This is because a tap can be faulty inside and not turn off properly.

Is water dripping in through the soap dispenser?

Sometimes, by removing the soap dispenser drawer and carefully observing inside the soap dispenser, you can see water slowly dripping in at regular intervals from the nozzles at the top. Don’t check this if the washing machine has just been filling though. You may get some dripping of water into the soap dispenser for a while after.

If there is a slow drip, you might also (but not necessarily) see a black jelly-like gunge around where the water comes in

Check the Water Valve Filter

Water pressure to the valve might be reduced enough to prevent the valve shutting off properly if the filter is severely blocked. Turn off the tap(s), remove the fill hose(s) and the water valve filter is easily seen at the back of the valve.

Usually it will be quite clean – with no need to remove it. If it is definitely blocked though, carefully pull it out with some flat pliers. Clean it out under a running tap.

Be very careful not to damage it! Even a very small hole will compromise its filtering abilities and let debris inside the valve.

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Does the water valve need replacing?

If the filter in the valve is not damaged, the water pressure is OK, and turning off the tap stops water entering the drum overnight, you need to get the water valve replaced as soon as possible.

Is water getting in through the drain hose?

The only other place water could possibly get into the drum is by siphoning up the drain hose. This is actually the most common cause of water getting into a washing machine. It shouldn’t be possible if the drain hose is plumbed in properly.

However, incorrect fitting can create circumstances where water runs down the drain hose, or is siphoned up through it.

If the drain hose is connected to the U-bend under the sink

If the drain hose is connected directly to the U-bend under the sink, and it does not rise up before running down to the washing machine, then water running down the sink can get into the washing machine.

The following photo shows drain hoses from a washing machine and a dishwasher. Both are poorly fitted. See how there is a direct run for water poured down the sink to continue down the drain hose into the appliance.

The following picture shows another two appliances plumbed into a U-bend under a sink.

The bottom one is another direct run for water poured into the sink to run down the drain hose into the washing machine.

The drain hose on the top is correctly fitted. A drain hose needs to rise up 4 or 5 inches before bending down into the washing machine. You may need to use a cable tie to fix it into the correct position.

If the drain hose pumps into a stand pipe

If your washing machine does not pump out into the U-bend, it may be pushed into a larger stand pipe. So you shouldn’t get this fault. There are rare circumstances where water could be sucked back into the machine, though.

For example, if the stand pipe outside is submerged in water through a blocked grate, and the drain hose is sealed into the standpipe with tape, instead of sitting in it with an air gap around it. (Check the drain hose is installed properly).

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33 thoughts on “Washing machine fills with water when off”

  1. Water coming from washer drain pipe but no water running in any bathroom or sink. Water was clear. This happened before but water was dirty that time. Any thoughts?

  2. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Shailesh. If the water is clear, and entering the drum overnight or when the washing machine is not on, it is usually coming from a leaking water valve as described in the article. The only other possible place for water to get into a washing machine is through the drain hose.

  3. My washing machine when not in use has water in the drum which looks clean but is smelly my washing is clean and smells ok what can be the problem.

  4. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hi Sheila, I can’t advise anything that isn’t already explained in my article. Everything that could possibly cause it and what to try is in the article.

  5. My front load Electrolux washer filled the tub when the unit was off. I checked the taps they do it leak when hoses are disconnected. What else could be causing the tub to fill when the washer is off?

  6. We have been away for 3 weeks and turned the water off at the mains before we went. In our return the drum in my washing machine had filled with water and was all over the floor as I had left washing machine door open how can this happen

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Margaret. Must be very annoying. Especially with the door being left open although, by the sounds of it, if you had closed the door then the water would have risen above the level of the door and poured out all over your feet when it was opened.

      My article above lists all of the possible causes for water to enter the washing machine. It can only come in from the drain hose or from the water valve. As the sink was not in use at the time it only really leaves the water valve. So the only way water could have got in his if the water wasn’t turned off fully, either due to needing a little bit of an extra turn or the mains tap not shutting off properly inside. Another alternative is if by any chance the water supply to the washing machine is supplied through a tankful of water. If by any chance it is a hot and cold fill washing machine, maybe the water valve that let in the water was from the hot water tap on the washing machine, which may be fed through a hot water cylinder?

      I would turn off the mains again, just like you did before you went on holiday, and then try putting the washing machine onto a wash cycle to see if any water comes into the washing machine. No need for any laundry detergent, but this will test to see if water is still going to the water valves with the mains stop tap turned off. If no water goes in, you could try just turning the stop tap just 1/4 of a turn to see if any water comes in, which might explain water get into the washing machine if it wasn’t fully turned off.

  7. Just bought new washer dryer as water was filling old machine overnight and flooding. Came down this morning and still same problem so wasn’t machine. It stops if I switch blue tap under sink. Please can you help?

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello valve. All of the possible causes that I am aware of are described in my article. If it has done it on two separate washing machines, and it definitely stops when you turn off the water valve, then read the section about low water pressure.

  8. Hello, when I’m using the short programs on my Hotpoint NSWF944 1400 Spin 9Kg Washing Machine like 30 min and 45 min shortly in that day it starts to fill up will water, but not on other programs which they are significant longer. Any of you notice the same problem or is just me?

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello there. Do you mean that when the washing machine has finished it starts to fill up with water over the next few hours? It seems a little unusual that it would seem to do it only after certain wash cycles, but there are only 2 possible causes for water going into the machine and they are described in detail in the article.

      I would suspect in your case it’s more likely to be water siphoning back into the washing machine through the drain hose because the drain hose isn’t installed properly. Check out the article and the photos that describe this problem in detail. This is of course assuming that your washing machines drain hose is connected to the U bend under the sink.

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