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How to Troubleshoot When a Washing Machine Wont Drain or Spin

If your washing machine won’t drain or spin, either something is stuck in the washing machine drain hose or pump, the pump is broken, or it sensed an imbalance when it started spinning.

If a washer won’t drain or spin, most of the time the fix is simple. We describe here the methods you can use to troubleshoot this problem. The solutions given here are the common cures for a domestic front-loading washing machine. Always switch off the appliance first, and unplug it before doing any work.

What to Do When Your Washing Machine Won’t Drain

A woman puzzles over a washing machine that won't drain or spin.If your washing machine has stopped with visibly a lot of water still in it, you will need to drain it before you can remove the washing.

The first action is to unplug the machine and empty the water. With a front-loading machine, you won’t be able to simply bail the water out of the tub, as you would for a top-loading machine.

You will need to drain the tub using gravity. Do this by placing the washer drain hose on the floor near a floor drain, or in a bucket/ washing-up bowl. Remove the stopper and progressively fill the bucket or bowl and emptying the contents, until no water is visible in the tub.

Clamp or stopper the hose to prevent any remaining water from running out while you empty the receptacle each time. Once the washer’s empty, open the door and remove the wet washing wring-out and dry your garments in any way possible. Finally, clamp or stopper the hose as it was before you started before plugging the appliance in again.

The Most Common Causes of a Washing Machine Won’t Drain or Spin

1. The load is unbalanced

Most of the time the tub stops spinning because the load is unbalanced. Sometimes you will have noticed the sound of the machine starting a spin cycle, only to make a clonking noise and then stop. If it stops very quickly there may be water still in the tub. Another tell-tale is that the machine may even have moved slightly from its normal position.

If so, and there is no standing water above the door cill, wait until the machine has been idle for a minute or two and the safety mechanism releases the door.

Open the spinner door and remove any especially heavy item which may have been causing the imbalance. You may need to dry that item by hanging it out to dry. If the imbalance was due to there being only one heavy item in the spinner at the time, you may also need to dry it in the air.

Sometimes adding another item, or several more items will balance the spin. If you have more washing to do, you might consider adding the item which caused the imbalance to a subsequent spin load with other garments.

2. There is an excess of foamy suds

Excessive foam could be caused by soft water or too much detergent. It usually happens when you add the wrong amount of washing powder, so refer to the instructions on the detergent bottle. The reason that a washing machine with excess foam may fail to pump out can be that the bubbles of foam get inside the pump, and the pump isn’t designed to pump bubbles.

You may be able to continue the wash by rinsing out the tub with clean water while draining it out via the pump hose, as described above. But, as this can be a long-winded process it’s probably better to just empty the tub, remove the wash-load, rinse out excess detergent by hand, replace the load and start the wash cycle again.

3. The drain hose is clogged, kinked or frozen

This problem is self-explanatory, and is something to look out for and put right:

  • when opening the pump access panel from the front below the tub door where the hose is visible, and
  • by inspection of the drain hose behind the washing machine.

4. The pump itself is clogged 

Washing machine pumps can get clogged with grit from a very dirty wash, very old decayed fabric may sometimes disintegrate, or plastic particles may build-up in the pump mechanism.

If this occurs it will become apparent when trying to drain the tub, as described above. In this situation, the gravity flow out through the drain hose below the pump is slow or non-existent. If so, the remedy is to consult the washing machine manufacturer’s manual to see how to remove the pump case.

With the case removed you will be able to gain access to the inner workings of the pump and rinse or pull the material causing the clog out. Before any machine repair always be sure to unplug the machine first though.

5. The pump is damaged or broken

If the impeller inside the pump is damaged you can usually tell by reaching your fingers inside and feeling for broken impeller blades. Or, if the pump leaks or makes an unusual noise, you’ll have to replace it.

In this case, it is possible for competent DIY’ers to remove the pump screws that hold the pump to the washer, purchase a new washing machine water pump, and install it. But, if in doubt engage a qualified plumber.

Keeping Washing Machine Problems to a Minimum

To keep any home washing machine working the longest with the least problems, always operate your washing machine in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. What many people don’t appreciate though is that you should also clean your washing machine once in a while. 

If all else fails, or you simply don’t wish to troubleshoot in the manner described above, don’t punish yourself any further. Get an appliance repair done by an expert. Schedule a repair with a skilled plumber such as the plumbers in Glasgow Southside or a washing machine repair and servicing specialist.



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