Fix-It Guy: Front-Load Washer Won’t Drain? Fix It Yourself!
Over 30 years as an appliance repair technician, one of the problems I see most frequently is a washer that won’t spin. Fortunately, the cause of this is commonly something simple that you can fix. In this article, I’ll walk you through the steps to get your washer draining like new again, saving you time and money.
Why Your Washer Isn’t Draining
While on rare occasions, a broken pump needs to be replaced, most often the problem is a clogged drain. Water that hasn’t drained out is so heavy that it could severely damage the washer during spin. To prevent this, water-level sensors in your washer won’t let it progress to spin until all the water has drained. So you’re stuck with a tub full of water.
The cause of the clog is usually small items in the laundry that got sucked into the drain, blocking the flow of water during the drain/spin cycle. These are just some of the items I’ve found clogging washer drains: panties, thongs, paper money, metal bra wires, tons of coins, hairpins, hair ties, rubber bands, and baby socks.
It’s easy to prevent this problem with two simple steps:
- Always empty pockets before washing.
- Put small clothing items into a zippered mesh bag to prevent them from being sucked into the drain.
Symptoms of a washing machine with a drain problem are:
- The cycle ends and the tub is still full of water.
- Low humming sound from low in the washer caused by a stuck impeller when the washer is set for drain/spin.
- Clothes are still wet at the end of the cycle.
- Error codes showing on the display panel. Examples of drain error codes are OE, LD, and ND. (All these codes mean no drain.)
- The washer isn’t spinning when set to drain/spin.
This is a beginner-level project that should take about 30 minutes.
- Safety precautions: Unplug the washer before you start.
- Tools needed:
- Small nut driver
Step 1: Expose the Drain’s Coin Trap
Some washers have a small door in the lower right or left corner of the front panel with access to the washer’s coin trap. Just hinge this door open to get to the coin trap. The coin trap is a plastic tray with holes in it that lets water go to the drain but catches coins and other small items before they can come in contact with the drain impeller.
Other models of washers will have a rectangular lower panel that spans the entire width of the front panel below the washer door. For these models, use the nut driver to remove between 2 to 4 small screws below the lower panel.
Pro Tip: To make it easier to get to the screws securing the lower panel, lean the washer back and put something around 2 inches thick like a block of 2×4 wood under the washer.
Step 2: Drain Out the Water
For most models, you can follow these steps to drain the water from the washer tub.
- Pull out the small tube next to the coin trap and put it over the bucket.
- Remove the plastic stopper in the tube to let the water drain into the bucket.
- Put the stopper back in once the bucket is near full.
- Pour out the bucket into the sink.
- Repeat this process until no more water comes out. There’s probably a lot of water so it may take many tries until all the water is out.
Option B — if your washer doesn’t have a small drain tube:
- Put a towel on the floor in front of the coin trap cover.
- Place the bucket on the towel directly under the coin trap cover.
- Slowly turn the coin trap plastic cover counterclockwise until water slowly dribbles into the bucket.
- As the bucket gets close to being full turn the coin trap cover clockwise to tighten it and stop the flow of water.
- Repeat until no more water comes out.
Option C — if you have a recent Whirlpool model. Recent Whirlpool models don’t have front access to the coin trap cover. On these models, you access the drain by removing the back panel. Follow these steps:
- Move the washer away from the wall by about two feet so you have room to work.
- Remove all the screws holding the back panel to the washer. Once you remove the back panel, you’ll see the coin trap cover under the tub pointing toward the side of the washer.
- A bucket won’t fit under the tub so you can use a frying pan or cookie sheet to capture the water.
- This type of coin trap doesn’t have a small drain hose, so you’ll need to slowly turn the coin trap cover as explained in Option B to start and stop the flow of water.
Step 3: Remove the Coin Trap Cover
Once you have drained out all the water, unscrew the coin trap cover by turning it counterclockwise. (If you followed Option B or Option C, you’ve already done this.)
Step 4: Remove the Clog
- Pull the coin shelf towards you and out of the drain. This may take some force if clothing items are wedged into it.
- Look at the coin trap shelf to see what’s causing the clog and pull the items out.
- Use your flashlight to look behind where the coin trap sits inside the drain assembly to check for items stuck in the tube between the tub and the back of the coin trap. Remove any items carefully with your fingers or needlenose pliers. Note: Go slowly as clogs in the tube may be holding back more water that will rush out once you remove the items causing the clog.
Step 5: Reinstall the Coin Trap and Cover
- Wiggle the coin trap shelf back into the drain. keeping it horizontal.
- Tighten the coin trap cover by turning clockwise until it won’t turn anymore.
Step 6: Reinstall the Lower Cover
- Put the lower panel back on and reinstall the screws. —
- For other models, reinstall the back cover and screws.
Step 7: Test for Leaks
- Plug in your washer and start a normal cycle. As it fills. watch for any signs of a leak.
- If you see any water leaking from under your washer, press the cancel button to stop the water from filling and activate the drain. You’ll need to tighten the coin trap cover to make sure there is a good seal.
- If it passes the leak test, start a spin cycle to test the drain.
Your washer should now drain quickly and fully. You’ve saved money and time and kept another washing machine out of the landfills. (Note: If your washer still won’t drain the water, then it’s time to call in a technician to replace the drain pump. Either the drain motor is worn out or the impeller is broken.)
Check out more easy DIY appliance repairs from Scott the Fix-It Guy.