Washing Machine Won’t Drain: Top 6 Problems and Fixes for Top-Loading and Side-Loading Washers (With Video!)

Six common washing machine parts are associated with a washing machine that will not drain. Troubleshooting the problem and making a repair or a replacement will often take care of this kind of issue. Before getting started with troubleshooting or replacements, there are safety precautions that should be considered. Make sure that the circuit breaker is off or the washing machine is not plugged in. The hot and cold water supply should also be off while going through the process. Once your washing machine is safe to work with, proceed with this easy guide to discover which part is causing the drainage problem.

Once you have identified the part needed for your washer, search below using your specific washing machine model number to identify the exact part needed:

1. Drain Pump

The washing machine drain pump is the first component to consider when draining isn’t occurring. It’s a part that is designed to remove water from the tub during the drain and spin cycles. This might be a simple pump with an inlet and outlet or it might be much more complex and have an attached motor. The drain pump will most often be located on the bottom of the washing machine, but sometimes it can be mounted on the motor.

If the washer is not draining properly, the drain pump should be inspected to see if anything is stuck inside of it. Older top-loading washers that are belt driven or have a pump on the motor will need to be checked to see if the drive motor is running. If the washer isn’t draining at this point, it’s time to remove the pump to ensure it isn’t clogged. Assuming the drain pump isn’t clogged and the motor is turning it, the impeller is likely damaged. This means that the drain pump will need to be replaced.

Newer top-loading washers with a separate electric drain pump and all front-loading washers should have the hoses removed and the filter screen inspected to make sure nothing is clogged. If the pump motor is audible during the drain cycle but draining isn’t occurring, that’s an indication that the impeller is broken or the component is clogged. Separating the motor and housing can give you information on whether that’s true. 

If everything is clean and the impeller is undamaged, the next step is to open the washer owner’s manual and follow the troubleshooting steps that are provided. If the washer has a diagnostic mode and error sheet, the error code may already be present and will lead you to the problem and solution in the manual. If there is no diagnostic mode, the wiring diagram will show you what the ohm reading should be. 

Set your multimeter to ohms and make sure it’s set to read the correct ohm level. Remove the wires from the drain pump and touch a probe to each of the terminals. The provided reading should be close to the one stated in your wiring diagram. If that isn’t the case, the drain pump will likely need to be replaced.

2. Hoses

If your washer still doesn’t drain, the second thing to look at are the hoses. The hoses in the washing machine are tasked with moving water through different parts of the appliance. Washers contain a wide selection of hoses and one of them may be kinked or clogged if the washer cannot drain. The tub to pump hose, internal drain hose, and the external drain hose should all be inspected. 

Typically, the tub to pump hose is found on the bottom of the tub and will connect to the drain pump. The internal drain hose goes from the back wall to the pump and the external drain hose goes from the drain to the back wall. For the hoses to be inspected, the clamps will first have to be removed. Then the hoses can be visually inspected for clogs. With the external hose, be sure it has no kinks since this can restrict the flow of water inside.

Check the manufacturer’s user manual to be sure the hose is properly hooked up to the drain. If it’s not connected in the right way, it could stop water from draining out of the washing machine. Some top-loading machines have a pump hose with a check ball on them. If there is debris here, it can prevent the washer from draining. Taking it out and cleaning it will help with this issue. Once the hoses are clean and not kinked, they can be reinstalled.

3. Lid Switch Assembly

The third component that can prevent a washing machine from draining is the lid switch assembly. Older top-loading washers would allow you to start a washing cycle with the lid open, but if the lid didn’t work correctly, the machine couldn’t go through the drain or spin cycles. The washers of today have lid switch assemblies in many styles, depending on the manufacturer and model.

The lid switch assembly is typically found under the washer top. When the lid is closed, the lid strike engages a switch to tell the washer that it is closed. Checking whether the strike is damaged is an excellent first step. If it’s broken, it will need replacement. If it’s working correctly, the lid switch is the next thing to inspect and will require the use of a multimeter.

The multimeter lets you know whether the lid switch holds electric current. The tool should be set to continuity and then the probes should be touched together to ensure the multimeter is working. Next, remove the wires from the lid switch or disconnect them from the wiring harness. When the lid is open, there should be no continuity, but when closed, continuity should be shown. If this doesn’t happen, the lid switch assembly will need to be replaced.

4.  Main Control Board

The main control board can also cause the washing machine to stop draining. If it’s a part on your washer, it’s tasked with controlling the washer functions after you choose settings for a cycle. The part takes the information from the sensors, switches, interface control board, and other controls. It will monitor and initiate various washing machine functions.

When the main control board isn’t working, it can lead to a washing machine that won’t drain. Different models of washers can have the main control board in various places. Sometimes it’s located under the washer top and other times it can be in the control panel. If the main control board has failed, you may notice that the interface still responds to your actions and lights up but doesn’t start or cannot drain.

After locating the main control board, the wiring harnesses should be checked to ensure they’re all connected. If there isn’t an error code on the display, the user manual for the washing machine will give extra troubleshooting steps that can be followed. However, if the main control board has stopped working completely, it will need to be replaced.

5. Timer

The timer on a washer can also cause a washer not to drain. This part controls the washer functions and consists of a set of contacts and one or more cams that are driven by the timer motor. If your washing machine isn’t draining, the contacts inside the timer may no longer be working. This means that power can’t be sent to the washer so it can’t go through its processes.

Most of the time, the timer is found in the control panel but there are a variety of timers that can be used in washing machines. The wiring diagram for your washer will show you which of the terminals should be tested to see if the part is working. Before you test it, turn the timer to the beginning of a cycle and pull the knob out. After that, examine the timing wiring harness to find which terminal the wires plug into.

A multimeter can be used to check the terminals for continuity. If no reading comes up, that indicates that the timer is no longer working. If this is the case with your washing machine, the timer needs to be replaced to allow it to operate the way it is supposed to.

6. Pump Belt

The last component that can lead to a washing machine that doesn’t drain is the pump belt. This part is located between the drain pump and the motor. Some belt-driven pumps on older top-loading washers can become worn or fall off and result in the washer not draining. Most of the time, this component is near the bottom of the washer on the pulleys. If the pump belt is damaged or worn out, it will need to be replaced. 

Still have questions after reading this guide? Please reach out to AppliancePartsPros.com, we are always happy to help you fix your appliance yourself.  Since 1999, AppliancePartsPros.com has helped millions of people repair their broken appliances by providing high-quality original parts at well below retail prices, free tech support and troubleshooting, and award-winning customer service! We’re open 7 days a week. Visit our site at https://www.appliancepartspros.com or call us at 877-477-7278. Over 90% of orders delivered in 1-2 days with guaranteed overnight shipping available! 365 days to return any part. Expert, friendly, US-based customer support team.