DIY Appliance Repair: Washing Machine Will Not Drain
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DIY Appliance Repair: Washing Machine Will Not Drain

Washing machines do not drain for several reasons. The pump may be defective. The pump may have a broken drive belt. The clutch that engages the drive belt may be defective. There may be an obstruction in one of the hoses or in the pump. In nine out of ten cases, the problem is an obstruction in the hose or in the pump.

There are several methods of getting water out of the tub of a washing machine that will not drain. The first way is to dip it out and use a rag to mop up what you cannot get with a cup. The second method is to can suck it out with a wet-dry shop vacuum. I use a wet-dry shop vac because it is the quickest and most efficient means of getting the water out of the tub. The third method is to place the drain hose in a bucket and drain the water by gravity. Because of the obstruction in the pump or hoses, this method is very slow and time consuming.

Tools and supplies that you will need.

  • Wet-Dry Shop Vac or Dipper and Pail

  • Rags

  • Hose Clamp Pliers

  • Long-Nose Pliers

  • Screwdrivers

  • Nut-Drivers or a 1/4-Drive Socket Set

  • Clamps

  • Two, one-gallon paint cans or something else to prop washing machine up on.

Gaining access to pump and hoses.

Depending on the make and model of washing machine that you are working on, you may have to remove a front panel, a rear panel, or in some cases, you may have to lift off the complete cabinet. If you have a machine that requires removing the cabinet, it will help if you have a helper to help you lift the case off and to help you reinstall it.

Do not believe the man in the Maytag commercial.

Contrary to what that well-know commercial would have you believe, Maytags do breakdown just like any other washing machine does. I have one and it loves to suck up small items like handkerchiefs and the grand kid’s socks. I think that Maytag knew about this proclivity too because they made accessing the pump and hoses easy by providing a front panel that is easy to remove and replace.

OK, let's get to work.

Unplug the washing machine from the laundry room receptacle, and remove the water from the tub using a wet-dry shop vac or by dipping it out. Pull the machine away from the wall and tilt it back, propping it up on the gallon paint cans or on whatever you are using to prop it up on.

Remove the screws holding the front panel in place using the correct size nut-driver, 1/4-inch drive socket, or screwdriver.


To finish removing the front panel, pull it out at the bottom and then lift it free of the top hooks securing it to the cabinet.

Proceed carefully here because the top hooks are easily damaged or lost. The hooks are available at any appliance parts supplier, so they are easy to replace, but if you lose or damage one on a Saturday afternoon, you will have to wait until the stores open on Monday to get a replacement.

Locating and removing the clog.

Most modern washing machines have pump with a translucent, plastic housing, so you may be able to the obstruction right through the housing. If you cannot see it through the plastic housing, or if you have a metal pump, you will have to a stick a finger inside the pump inlet and feel around for it. Either way, you need to clamp the hose close and remove it from the pump's inlet first.

If you can see or feel the obstruction, reach through the inlet with the long-nose pliers and pull the obstruction out of the pump. If you cannot see or feel the obstruction and the impeller turns freely inside the pump housing the offending obstruction is elsewhere. The offending piece of cloth may be in the hoses or in the tub outlet.

If you cannot find any cloth obstructions and if you cannot feel the impeller turning inside the housing while turning the pump's pulley with your other hand, the pump is bad and you need to replace it.

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Comments (18)

Goodness, Jerry, your articles populated the popular list on the sidebar. Great job. Congratulations!

My first thought would be.. hmm..clogged with kitty hair?!?

This seems really helpful

This seems really helpful

Haven't had this happen yet, but now I know what to do.  Great job, Jerry.

valuable information

Excellent ! very helpful article..

Well put-together article!

Thank you dear brother Jerry for the post on washing machine repair. Hope to be in your continued guidance and support.

I've had this problem before and had to get a repairman. Thanks!

Very informative article

Great step-by-step guidance on washing machine repair. Now I know what happens when two socks go in, and only one sock comes out!

Awesome articles, Jerry!  Helpful as well.  Anyone could work on household appliances with your article information!  Thank you for being insightful and very detailed!  Voted up and recommended.

Thank you for this information, you are a trusted and helpful DIY source.

An excellent article, Jerry!  I'm going to promote this as so many people would rather buy a new machine than fix it and there seem to be fewer and fewer people out there who can fix things.  This step by step guide is easy to follow and highly comprehensive, a truely useful article :D

Very helpful and well written article. Thank you for sharing such helpful work with all of us.

our dishwasher quit running and exhausting middle wash cycle. throughout the time we tend to we tend tore checking your solutions (which were sensible advice) we found a distinct fix. attain bottom panel and confirm all wires directly behind panel at prime.are connected. our wirenut poor and one wire wasn't touching we tend to retwisted and placed on new wirenut. everything worked once more Cherry picker hire

When I was living in Washington one of our washing machine hoses was not connected properly so we had to drain water out of the tub, too. We used your method of dipping out the water and using a rag to dry up the base. In the future I think I will use a shop vac. Was it pretty easy to replace the front panel after you completed the job?