Washing Machine Won’t Drain Water

If your washing machine won’t drain the water out, this article gives advice on how to fix it. Has the washing machine only just been plumbed in, and it won’t empty? Then you might not even need to drain or pull the washer out – so read this article first – washing machine won’t drain after being moved or plumbed in.

If not, read on…

If your washing machine is stuck full of water because it’s gone dead during a wash cycle, just make sure that it isn’t something simple like a faulty fuse, or a problem with the wall socket. This could get the washer running again to pump out the water, and save a lot of messing about trying to drain the washing machine.

Otherwise, you will need to drain out as much of the water as possible before doing anything else.


How to manually drain out the water

Read this article on how to manually drain out the water that’s stuck inside a washing machine. Return here when you have drained out the water to try and find the cause.

What are the main causes of not draining?

Once you’ve drained out as much water as you can it’s time to investigate further.

If the washer appears to be functioning normally, but just won’t pump away the water, these are the most common causes –

  • A blockage somewhere
  • Something jammed in the pump
  • Pump failure
  • An electrical fault

There are 2 variations of this fault. One is when the washing machine is left completely full of water and not one drop has been pumped away. The other is when only some of the water gets pumped away. The latter can be caused by an intermittent fault, or more commonly by a partial blockage somewhere.

However, bear in mind that if another fault prevents the washing machine doing a fast spin, that might account for some of the water left in the drum if it’s not too much.

Is the water pump running – or not?

It’s important to establish whether the pump is running or not. If the pump is running, but not draining out water, then we suspect a blockage somewhere. But if the pump is not running, then it could be a fault on the pump, something jamming the pump, or an electrical fault.

NOTE: Some washing machines like Hotpoint Whirlpool and maybe Indesit turn off the pump when there’s no water inside, so if you are only testing it without water, that could be why it isn’t running.


If the pump isn’t running

The most common reason a pump isn’t running is because an obstruction is physically jammed inside it.

Check that the impeller turns, and it’s not jammed (or broken and loose on the shaft). 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. It might be possible to hear a gentle hum in place of the normal pump sound when it’s trying to run, although not necessarily.

A hum might indicate that the pump is electrically OK, and is being supplied with a live and neutral, but just unable to run because it’s jammed.


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Once you’ve drained the water out

With water drained out of the washing machine, remove the pump filter and check for obstructions. If no pump filter is fitted, the pump may need removing to check for blockages inside.

Some pump filters are hidden behind the kickplate, how do I clean my pump filter – where is the pump filter?

If you can’t see anything, it might be wiser to book an appliance repair


What if the pump isn’t jammed?

If the pump is not running, but not blocked or jammed, then it needs testing with a continuity test meter for open circuit resistance across the pump’s terminals. An open circuit pump is clearly faulty and can be replaced.

The windings on a standard washing machine pump would normally have a resistance of around 165 Ohms. If it isn’t open circuit or jammed, then you’d need to investigate if it is getting power and has a neutral return. These are things an engineer should be doing – find white goods repairs


Is the pump making a loud grinding noise?

If the pump is making a loud grinding noise, either constantly or intermittently? If so, there’s likely to be something inside being tossed around by the impeller.

It’s possible for it to be bearing failure, but in most cases it will be an obstruction (such as a coin, hairband, hair grip, bra wire etc.) stuck inside the pump.

With the water drained out, and pump filter removed, it should be possible to see into the pump (where the impeller is) to check for obstructions.

Checking for blockages

u-bend drain connection

Is the drain hose connected to the U-bend under the sink? If so, try checking the spigot for blockages.

Note that 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.


This is a simple fix, and can be done without moving the washing machine. The drain hose is connected to the u-bend by a plastic spigot pushed into the end of the drain hose. Unscrew the spigot to inspect inside.

Also check inside the u-bend where the spigot screws on. A small button, or accumulated bits of stringy threads and lint from laundry can get stuck here. It takes surprisingly little to stop the water being pumped away at this point.


Check for a blocked pump filter

Next you need to check for blockages in the pump filter if your washing machine has one. Most do. You will need to have drained out as much water as possible before removing the filter. Also, put down large bath towels before removing the pump filter to soak up the water that will inevitably come out.

Taking the filter out

pump filter

It should be easy to pull the filter out. If unsure, check your instruction manual or my pump filter article. If the filter appears jammed and won’t come out read the advice in the pump filter article.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that anything found in the filter will account for the fault. The pump filter would need to be physically blocked by something like a sock, or a build-up of lint to stop the washing machine from pumping out.


So if all you find is a few buttons and coins, this is not likely be the reason your washing machine isn’t pumping out the water. Only an object actually jamming the pump impeller or a substantial blockage of the filter would account for not draining.

Bear in mind though that some objects can get sucked in when the pump runs and then spat back out when it stops.

If you can’t find a blockage

If there are no blockages substantial enough to account for the problem, there could still be a blockage – but in less accessible places. It’s probably better to consider finding an appliance engineer.

A more obscure blockage could be inside the drum, the sump hose, the pump chamber, or even inside the drain hose or U-bend. This type of blockage would normally also stop water being drained out manually.


So if water drained out easily through the drain hose or filter hose it implies there is no physical blockage. Remember you should only be looking for a blockage if you can hear that the pump is running. If the pump is not running we aren’t suspecting a blockage. If it’s running, not emptying, and there’s no blockage in the pump, filter or u-bend read here – Can’t Find a Blockage But Washing Machine Still Not Draining



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16 thoughts on “Washing Machine Won’t Drain Water”

  1. i have a Miele W3821 that keeps giving me the drain error note. I have drained it, taken out the “filter and removed a wad of dog hair that was stuck in it. Have checked to see if there was further problems and found nothing. Alas, it still won’t pump the water. The pump is running and the pump fan is clear and moves as it should with the spring action like rotation. As I look at the filter, it looks as if a bit inside of it may be broken, but I can’t find any photos of that angle so I am not sure. As I look into the filter there is a plastic part in the middle sticking straight out. It looks and feels sharp as if something was there and has broken off. Should there be something there?

  2. Hello Kim. I have advice about this on a separate article about pump filters which is linked to in this one. However, I’ve now added the section to this article to make it easier to find. Just have another look at the article at the section headed “Washing machine pump filter stuck?”

  3. Curly: I’m not familiar with the filter in question. However if a peace has broken off then this piece itself may have jammed in the U bend connector if it is plumbed in to drain through the U bend. Another possibility is that the filter has let some of the hair (or something else) through which may also get jammed. If your washing machine pumps into a standard drain pipe then this won’t be the case. But if it is connected to a plastic spigot which screws onto the U bend, as most are these days, then unscrew it and check for blockages.

  4. I studied this website for several days and watched a lot of videos , was inspired by all comments and with broken index finger removed pump, hoses and top of machine , machine does not have filter. It took me 3 full days and flood in the kitchen but I found a plastic bag in the hose.
    Machine still does not spin proper or drain. Had to buy new machine and also have to pay for removal of old one. Disappointing, this website is not for everyone.

  5. Hi Natilie, It’s a shame the plastic bag wasn’t the only cause, maybe there was something else stuck in too. I’m always careful to give only general advice which would help a knowledgeable person with experience repairing other products or diy etc to have a better understanding. My articles are deliberately general and I never give explicit instructions because I think it’s unwise to start trying to fix any appliance if not already experienced at repairing things unless it’s just straight forward things like checking a filter, fuse, or inside a hose.

  6. Hi, Andy
    You are right, after repeatedly draining the pipe some other rubbish have got out and it suddenly started working as usual.
    My Hoover is at least 30 years old and I was shocked to see that it is working again.
    I had no knowledge of even how to open it, just read everything on the website.
    Thank you for saving me from extra headache before Christmas.

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