How to Troubleshoot a Washing Machine That Won't Drain

Written by stephanie nolan
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How to Troubleshoot a Washing Machine That Won't Drain
A working washing machine drains all water. (washing machine image by andrey polichenko from

If you wash a load of clothing and notice that your machine does not drain, you will need to troubleshoot the possible cause. Before troubleshooting and tearing apart your washing machine, remove some of the clothing and try to run your cycle again. Sometimes a washer won’t drain due to being overloaded with clothes. If your washing machine still does not drain, it’s time to figure out what is causing this headache.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Long wire
  • Bucket
  • Transmission brake
  • Rag
  • Mild detergent
  • Grease-cutting detergent
  • Screwdriver
  • Lubricating oil

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  1. 1

    Empty the water in your washing machine with a bucket or pail. If your washing machine contains wet clothes, remove them first. Dip the bucket or pail in the washer and fill it up with water. Dump the water down your kitchen, laundry room or bathroom sink.

  2. 2

    Unplug your washing machine and check the drain hose located in the back for clogs or kinks. Blow in the drain hose or insert a long wire into the hose to verify it comes out of the other end.

  3. 3

    Plug your washing machine back in, turn it on and set the control knob to spin. If the machine doesn’t spin, check the drive belt and pulleys. Refer to your owner’s manual for the locations and specifications of the drive belt and pulleys, as this varies from machine to machine. You may need to adjust these or replace them.

  4. 4

    Replace the transmission or brake if your machine agitates slowly. Contact a professional for a quote and to perform the replacement of these parts.

  5. 5

    Check the machine for dried detergent or grease coating the gasket around the tub. Rub your finger around the gasket, and if you notice these items, clean the gasket with a warm rag to remove detergent. Use a mild grease-removing detergent that will not bind your gasket.

  6. 6

    Open the back of the washing machine with a screwdriver. Notice if the motor carriage needs lubrication. If it does, spray or rub penetrating oil on the motor carriage, as this may cause your agitator to not function properly.

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