What to do when your washing machine is leaking

by Ian Osborne

It’s a corollary to Murphy’s Law that appliances will break at the most inconvenient time. For washing machines, that’s Sunday night, when midway through washing the kids’ school clothes, you notice an ominous pool of water in the laundry room and realize your workhorse washing machine is leaking. [Image credit: iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages]

What to do when your washing machine is leaking

Don’t panic. Before you give the machine a swift kick and say things you don’t want your children to repeat, take a minute to troubleshoot the problem and see if your Sunday evening can be salvaged. Here’s what to do when your washing machine is leaking.

Step 1: Cut off electricity to the washing machine

Water and electricity are never a good combination. So, before you investigate the cause of the leak, be sure to cut off power to your washing machine at the circuit breaker. Next, unplug your washing machine from the wall socket.

Step 2: Clean up the puddle so you can safely inspect the machine

In the worst-case-scenario, a busted washing machine hose can discharge over 1,800 litres per hour — a situation that would require the help of a flood restoration specialist. Fortunately, your case isn’t as severe, so you can enlist the help of a roommate, spouse, or child. Remember: The area may be slippery, so be sure the person is sure-footed and physically capable.

Step 3: Rule out the obvious

Quite often, the reason for a puddle in front of a machine is simply too much soap. Did you overfill the machine? If this is a high-efficiency, front-loading machine, it’s very important that you use only HE detergent and use only the recommended amount of detergent. Oversudsing will cause the machine to overflow.

Have you just moved or installed the machine? Sometimes, a machine that is not properly balanced on the floor can cause leaks.

  • Use a spirit level to see if the machine is properly balanced. Adjust the machine’s placement if necessary.
  • If you just installed the machine, you may not have removed the manufacturer’s drain plug from the drain hose. Remove the plug, and reattach the hose.
  • If the machine has been moved too far back against the wall, it can cause the drain hose to dislodge from the drain pipe or from the back of the machine. Make sure the drain hose is fully inserted into the drain pipe and that the clamp that attaches the hose to the back of the machine is secure.

If you have a front-loading washer, check the seals around the door. If the seals have deteriorated or have a build-up that prevents the door from closing fully, this can cause your washing machine to leak. If the gasket has deteriorated, it can be replaced quite easily. Build-up can be wiped clean.

If none of the above problems are apparent, then check the hoses, valves, connections, and fittings to see if there are any noticeable signs of unusual wear.

Step 4: Determine when the leak began

If you’ve ruled out some of the more obvious causes of your washing machine leak, you may want to determine at which cycle your washing machine began to leak:

Fill cycle: Leaks during the loading/filling phase usually result from:

  • Too much water pressure
  • Buildup of slime or grease in/on nozzles
  • Blockage in dispenser hose
  • Damaged tub seal

Wash/agitation cycle leaks: The most likely cause of a leak during the wash cycle is usually a bad tub seal. Replacing a tub seal does comes with a learning curve, so you may want to enlist the help of a qualified repair technician.

Spin/rinse cycle leaks: If you’ve ruled out any issues with your hoses or fittings, the most likely cause of a leak during the spin/rinse cycle is a worn-out, brittle seal in the discharge pump. But, you could also have a sock or small item lodged in the discharge pump, so be sure to check there.

If you still can’t find the source of your washing machine leak, or you’ve determined the repair requires more technical skill than you’re up for, simply search online for a qualified technician to repair your leaky washing machine. Yes, a repair will cost money, but it will save you the frustration of attempting the repair yourself, or spending too much time and money at the laundromat.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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