Last updated on February 19th, 2017
If your washing machine won’t drain water out and is stuck full of water this article gives instructions on how to manually drain the water. It also gives advice on what might be wrong, and if appropriate – how to fix it. This advice can also be used to try and find out why a washing machine might be emptying some of the water but just not fast enough to allow a spin (due to a possible partial blockage).
If the washer went dead during the cycle
If the washing machine has gone dead leaving it full of water it may be worth checking it isn’t something as simple as a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker in the fuse board, or a fault on the wall socket by checking this help article washing machine is dead, wont start. If you get the washer going again it should pump the water out itself but if you can’t get it running again follow the advice below.
If washing machine is working but just won’t pump out the water
If the washer appears to be functioning normally but simply won't pump away the water then the possible causes are a blockage somewhere, a pump failure, or an electrical fault stopping the pump from running.
Is the pump running – or not?
If you know that the pump is running, but water isn’t being pumped out, try checking the spigot under the sink (if the drain hose is plumbed in under the sink into the u-bend). This could save a lot of trouble. A small blockage inside the end of the drain hose or inside the plastic nozzle or spigot that the drain hose is pushed on to can cause this fault. This is often a small button, or bits of stringy threads from laundry. This is a simple fix, and can be done without moving the machine. Unscrew the spigot and take the drain hose off to inspect. However, if you cannot hear the pump running don’t bother. A blockage here would not stop the pump running, nor would it make the pump stop making its normal noise. If there is no blockage here the problem lies elsewhere and you need to drain the machine as described below.
Watch out for new plumbing installations – particularly at new houses
Before moving off the subject of the plastic spigot mentioned above (see pic) have you just plumbed the washer into a u- bend under the sink, or moved house and connected it to an existing u-bend? If so, and the first time you use it your washing machine doesn’t pump out (but it did before) make sure the connector that you fit the drain hose onto doesn’t have a blanked end that needs cutting off, or a blanking piece that needs removing – washer doesn’t drain after being moved
How to drain the washing machine
There might be a pump filter at the front, behind a small door or behind the kick strip. Some of them also have a small draining tube which can be pulled out and used to drain the washer. It can be very slow and laborious, but not too messy. If no water comes out of yours there’s likely to be a sock or some other blockage preventing draining so you will need to try a different approach.
If you don’t have a draining tube in the pump filter, or it’s just far too slow, you will need to remove the main drain hose and lower it into a bowl or bucket. You may need to pull the washer forward to get to the drain hose (Best way to pull washing machine out). These days many washers are connected to the U bend directly under the sink instead of a separate waste pipe at the back. If yours is connected there you can usually unscrew it easily. Remember though, that with the drain hose disconnected from the U bend, any water poured down the sink will flood out into the cupboard until the hose is reconnected.
Once you have the drain hose disconnected and lowered into a bowl or bucket the water should siphon out as long as the pipe is low enough. If little or no water comes out then it may be blocked by an item of clothing like a sock or a build up of lint and it won't be possible to empty the machine this way.
Siphoning the water out
I had an email from someone who suggested it could be drained by siphoning the water directly from the drum, presumably using a tube. This could be an option worth considering in the right circumstances although it would only drain the water down to the bottom of the inner drum unless you could get the tube lower down from the front of the drum. There’s a fair bit more water underneath the drum than you might expect. However, it could get enough of it out to make the washing machine lighter and more manoeuvrable in order to try draining via the main drain hose or from the filter. You would need a washing machine that allows the door to open when water is in the machine. In the past most washers had a pneumatic lock which locked the door unless empty but these days due to cost cutting and lower water levels many washing machines will let you open the door with water in after the bi-metal lock has cooled down.
A more crude way to drain a washing machine
If the level of the water is not above the door and the water isn’t hot you may be able to open the door and ladle some of the water out. It will be messy, and once the water level drops low enough you won’t be able to get to the rest, which will need draining by some of the other methods. There will be more water still inside than you might expect.
Draining via the pump filter
If I decide to drain the washer through the pump filter I pull the machine forward a little and tilt it back. I then place a (strong) washing up bowl under the machine under where the filter is. I can then carefully open or unscrew the filter and allow the water to pour into the bowl (warning: this is messy and it comes out very fast!). When the bowl is full the filter can be tightened back up and the bowl emptied. By repeating I can drain the washing machine almost without moving it and quite quickly. This is best done with two people, with one holding back the washing machine to prevent it falling and with plenty of towels down. And of course not if the washer is full of hot water.
Be warned that if you get it wrong, and the filter comes completely out you will get a big flood of water gushing all over the place. Make sure you have loads of towels and sheets. Do not try this method if you have laminated floor which can be badly damaged if flooded with water and only use it if you can’t get the water out using the other methods.
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.
Once you’ve drained the washing machine
Once you have drained the water, you need to work out if the pump is running or not. If you can definitely hear it running but it hasn’t been draining you should first check for blockages in the filter (How do I clean my pump filter – where is the pump filter?). If the pump filter is clearly blocked you have a simple job of cleaning and refitting it and the machine may work OK. If the filter is not blocked, or only has a few bits in it which wouldn’t account for stopping it draining you need to look elsewhere, or call an engineer. (More advice in links below).
Note: A few coins in the pump filter can’t stop it from pumping, only a completely or mostly blocked filter would account for it not pumping. It needs to be something that would substantially stop water getting through the filter holes and a few coins won’t do that if they are just in the filter and haven’t got inside the pump so don’t just find the odd coin and think you’ve fixed it. If a coin somehow got past the filter and into the pump though then yes, a coin can stop the impeller going round, but not from the filter. Blockages could be in many different places from the sump hose to the drain hose and even the u-bed if connected to the sink. It’s not even necessarily a blockage, it could be a problem with the pump or its electrical connections. Check out the links below for more help on finding a blockage and dealing with pump filters.
If the pump isn’t running
If the pump isn’t running at all during the drain or spin cycle then it’s likely to be the reason why nothing’s getting pumped away. Checking connections and testing for open circuit resistance with a continuity test meter need to be done. If a pump is open circuit it’s clearly faulty and needs replacing. If it isn’t open circuit and it isn’t jammed then if it isn’t running you’d need to investigate if it is getting power and has a neutral return.
It’s still worth checking for blockages as described in the above paragraph though. This is because an obstruction can jam a pump and prevent it from running. They aren’t very powerful and can easily be stopped. A very small obstruction could get under the impeller and jam it. Turn the impeller by hand. It may have a little magnetic resistance at one point but it should be at the same point on each revolution. The impeller should turn fairly easily.
Further pump troubleshooting
- How do I clean my pump filter – where is the pump filter?
- Washing machine pumps
- Won’t drain water after being moved
- Cant find a blockage but washing machine still not draining
- Too much soap suds (foam) in machine
Buy new pump
If you need to buy a new pump try 4washerhelp spares which is run by the largest UK spares supplier in the UK – Washing machine pumps
Choose from my list of white goods appliance repairers.