Most washing machines have a pump filter to protect the pump from a build up of lint, and obstructions such as coins. It should be at the front of the washing machine at the bottom left or right, and should be obvious (a square or round flap) – but some are hidden. A good washing machine filter should have retractable pipe at the side so that you can drain the water into a bowl. If your washing machine is stuck full of water you need to drain it away before removing the filter, check this article for help washing machine won’t drain water as there is a section titled, “how to drain the washing machine”.
How do I clean my pump filter – where is the pump filter?
If there’s nothing obvious, the best way to find out if your washing machine has a filter is to read the instruction book (download appliance instruction books). However, if you don’t have an instruction book and there isn’t an obvious one at the front you can carefully remove the kick-strip at the front of the washing machine (if fitted) to see if there is a hidden filter.
Don’t bother if it’s clearly just a thin kickstrip but most are built up to go flush with the front panel and can hide a filter. Be careful because they are often flimsy and brittle and can break easily. If your instruction book doesn’t mention a pump filter you shouldn’t need to look for one.
The kick-strip usually clips into place with about 3 tabs but as I say, they are sometimes easily broken. I usually place a small flat-bladed screwdriver between the top of the kick-strip and the casing and then gently lever downwards whilst pulling forward but try to work out how to remove it before levering away, it may be screwed in place or clipped at the bottom.
Examples of washing machines that sometimes had a totally hidden filter inside the sump hose (the hose from the tub to the pump) are Hotpoint, Indesit, Candy and Hoover. I’m thinking of 10 years back and I don’t know if they still do it, but most washing machines do not hide the pump filter in the sump hose. Such filters were meant to be inaccessible to customers and a stupid place to put one because when it gets blocked, most people are forced to call out an engineer.
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Taking the pump filter out
The filter should unscrew anti-clockwise. Some unscrew until they come out and some just unscrew a quarter of a turn or so and allow the filter to be pulled out. Make sure you have at least one large towel to catch water and don't take it out at all if the washing machine still has water in the drum (see next paragraph if it has).
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, which then allowed me to get the filter out. Do not lay a washing machine down to work on it if it has water inside. Water can seep out onto electrical parts. If you have a second person to tip the machine back and hold it so you can get underneath that is the best method.
Once the filter is out
If there is a clear obstruction such as a sock, or a build up of linen, then clean it all out and refit the filter. Make sure it’s replaced correctly and watch for leaks round the filter after the washing machine is up and running.
If you can't see any blockage, or there is just the odd button in there that doesn't account for stopping the pump from working, shine a torch into the pump and look for something that could have got through the filter and jammed the impeller. Use a small screwdriver to try and turn the impeller. They are often slightly stiff and some turn a quarter of a turn and stop until you turn it again. However, it should be reasonably free. Watch out for rubber bands wrapped underneath the impeller making it too stiff for the pump to run.
You can try the washing machine on drain, or spin with the filter out and shine a torch inside to see if the impeller is turning or attempting to turn. Of course if you try to put any more water in, it will run straight out onto the floor.
No pump filter?
Some washing machines, especially older ones may not have a filter. If yours doesn't have a pump filter, then any blockage will be in the sump hose, which is the black hose leading from the tub to the pump. If not in the sump hose, then it could be inside the pump itself, or even the drain hose. Typically, the impeller gets jammed by a small coin, a nail, screw, rubber band or bra wire.
This article is one of a series on pumps, check out my others here
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