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 inside a hose or the drum
  • Something jammed in the pump
  • Pump failure
  • An electrical fault
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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 water out

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

  1. Bosch Exxcell machine won’t empty.
    Due to be collected tomorrow and needs to be empty.
    Have tried rear drain hose & front mini hose with no success. Can’t budge filter opening at all even with a wrench. Have bailed out what I can but don’t think it’s enough.
    Any suggestions?

  2. Sounds like something like a big sock may be jammed inside the sump hose and somehow preventing the filter from coming off. I would put a load of towels and or cotton sheets down to soak up water and lay the machine back onto something like a bowl or with the help of someone carefully holding it lay it back against something so you can get underneath and disconnect the sump hose. Obviously disconnect the machine first.

    This will result in all the water coming out and it could get messy. There might be a full bowlful of water in there. There’s no other way unless you force the filter out and probably break it. It may be possible to release the clip holding the filter and then in a controlled way pull it partially off to let it drain into a bowl or bucket and pushing it back on whilst you empty the water. Try to do it with someone to help.

  3. I am wits end trying to understand what’s going on.I have checked the filter at the bottom left hand corner.No obstructions.I have taken the outlet pipe to see if any obstruction and I don’t feel anything.I now have taken the front cover and felt the hose pipe between the Drum and the drain pump and I don’t feel any obstructions.I have also felt the outlet pipe from the drain pump to outlet pipe and no obstructions. I now have removed the drain pump to see if anything wrong with the drain pump.It look O.K to me but when I place a voltmeter between the two terminals there is no buzz.(continuity test).
    Washing machine is Miele Premier Novo.
    Error message Check Drain.

  4. Zaf: If the pump is open circuit it would be faulty and need replacing, but pumps can have quite high resistance so you’d need to make sure you were testing it with a meter on the right range settings if it’s a multi meter. If the pump just isn’t running when you put it on drain or spin then it may well be open circuit.

    If it is running but no water is pumping out and you can’t see any blockages try this article Can’t Find a Blockage But Washing Machine Still Not Draining

  5. Hi. Not sure if this is the right place to post this but I have a samsung sw65v9w top load washing machine… it starts pumping water as normal (nice strong flow doesn’t seem blocked) but after about a minute the pump just stops completely, the counter continues to count down but there is just a faint whirr coming from the machine… if I pause and restart the cycle you can hear relays clicking but it wont restart the pump… however if I leave it on pause and wait 5 minutes or so and restart the cycle the pump starts as normal and pumps as per normal… could it be possible the pump motor is overheating and shutting off and able to restart only after cooling for 5 mins or so? Or could the problem be circuit board related? Appreciate your advice thanks in advance :)

  6. Alex, it does sound like the pump might be overheating and cutting out, if there’s something restricting the impeller or partially blocking it that might account for it but otherwise it may need a new pump.

  7. Yeah thanks andy, i checked the impeller first up… clear view of it and there is nothing jamming or blocking… can turn the impeller by hand (fingers) and still has strong magnetic pull as it goes past the magnets inside the motor… I also noticed last night a bit of a grinding noise upon one of the restarts that sounded like plastic gears not meshing correctly… i’m not sure how the pump motor drives the impeller but maybe there are some worn gears in there somewhere binding up causing an overheat in the motor… either way I think I have to bite the bullet and get a new pump motor… cheers, alex

  8. Hi. We have a Whirlpool AWM6145/3 washing machine which has displayed an FP fault and is not draining and also makes a rattling noise. I have drained the machine and taken out the filter and noticed that the impeller came away. I did manage to stick it back on but after two successful wash cycles the machine is making the same rattling noise and showing the same FP fault message. Does the machine require a new pump or is there something more heavy duty that I can use to stick the impeller on with. Thanks Gary

  9. hello. My washing machine is not draining. It is a front loader. I have tried to remove the filter in front, but it just keeps spinning around. How do I pull it out?

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