Washing machine wont drain

Washing Machine Won’t Drain – See How To Fix It Yourself

Depending on the age of your washing machine, at some point, you are likely to find it unable to drain all of the water. The most common time that this will happen is after the main wash cycle, but it can be at any time that the washing machine won’t drain.

This article is going to be looking at a Bush washing machine that wouldn’t drain, but the only difference in principle is the fault code shown.

Luckily, as with tumble dryers. Washing machines only have a few process methods for cleaning clothes. The drain system of all washing machines will be very similar. Therefore, no matter which washing machine you have that will not drain, you should be able to follow this guide and get it running again.

Washing Machine Won’t Drain – Check your Fault Codes

The first thing that you need to do is check that the fault code you see means that there is a problem with the drain function. The code (flashing lights) on this Bush washing machine actually shows that there is a fault with the pump. It could be the case that there is an issue with your drain pump, but if you can hear the pump when it is meant to be working, then it is probably fine, at least electrically.

Washing machine wont drain

In the GIF above, you can see that the fault code here is that the start button and the ready (play) lights are flashing. However, as I have said, the actual codes will be different depending on your own machine.

From this point onwards, if you are repairing your washing machine while reading this, you may want to take pictures to remember where parts go, and how the wiring is routed.

Disconnect The Washing Machine

Before you do anything with the washing machine that will not drain water, you need to disconnect it from the supply and drain. There are three connections you will need to find:

  • Power
  • Water
  • Drain

Turn Off The Power

As with all repairs on appliances, you should remove all power from it before you start working on it. Furthermore, it is also a wise idea to let it sit for an hour or so to ensure all of the electrical components have discharged so that you do not get a shock or damage the machine more.

Draining A Washing Machine That Won’t Drain – Clean The Filter

All washing machines will have an accessible pump and filter, as shown in the next image.

washing machine wont drain - filter

You may be lucky enough to open this and find something blocking the pump. Hair clips from pockets seem to be the main culprit, but lint and other items are often found stopping the pump, too.

Before you open the filter, remember that all of the water in the washing machine drum will come out of here. Either take the machine outside or have something ready to collect all of the wastewater.

Wait until the machine is completely drained before you move it. That will help with two things:

  1. It will be lighter, thus easier to move if you need to.
  2. You will make less mess. 

If you found something blocking the pump, you can remove it and try it again. That may have been causing all of your problems. However, my advice here before you remove all of the washing machine connections fill it with some water. DO NOT FILL IT COMPLETELY. There is often a rinse mode that you can use to put some water into the drum. When you see the water through the door, you can turn it to drain and check that the filter clean worked.

If Cleaning The Filter Doesn’t Work

If, after cleaning the pump filter and checking it, it still doesn’t drain, you will need to continue through the next steps.

Turn Off Water Supply

The next job is to turn off the water supply. This machine has a removable hose that has a tap on the mains. Finding the tap is usually pretty easy as it is rare that it will be far from the machine, and often next to other water supplies like a sink.

washing machine water valve

With this water supply, simply turning the blue tap 90∘ will turn off the water supply.

Washing Machine Won't Drain

Remember though, that whatever pressure you have in your mains inlet water will be stuck in the hose leading to the washing machine. In this case, I was able to put a container under the main water connection and slowly undo the connector. Do this slowly as there will be some water come out. Furthermore, if you do it too quickly and the valve has not shut, or it is broken, you will get a lot of water come out, and you will need to screw the hose back in.

If that does happen, you will need to turn the water off somewhere else in your home. That is usually the main stopcock.

Disconnect The Drain

The drain is usually a simple push-fit connection onto a U-bend. If it is, pull it off, but use another container to drain any water that is in there. You may need to undo a clip using a screwdriver or a socket.

At this point, you can take a look inside the drain hose and see how it looks. If you see anything in the hose, such as lint, you are probably looking at a blockage somewhere.

Move the Washing Machine

In my experience, it is often easier to take the washing machine outside, due to lighting and space, but that is not always possible. If you cannot take it outside, you should be sure to have space to lie the machine down on its side. Before you lie it on its side, remember to remove the top cover. That will help you to see more inside the machine and gain access to some of the parts.

I have always found it easier to lay it down with the pump and filter ending up at the top. Therefore, on this washing machine, I lay it on its left side as you are looking at it from the door. Washing machines often have concrete blocks inside them to keep them from bouncing around the room. That means that they can be heavy, so be careful and ask for help!

At this point, you should have access to the components from below.

washing machine drain components

Removing Components

You will need to remove all of these components, as there is often lint in more than one place.

Throughout this job, I only needed a T-10 Torx bit for all of the screws, pliers for spring clamps, and a Phillips screwdriver.

The drain hose, on the left of the image, will run from your pump to the outside of your machine. When you have removed all of the components, including the hose, you should have something like this:

washing machine drain components

Checking The Washing Machine Drain Components

Here you can see the drain and NRV (Non-Return Valve, it stops wastewater returning into the drum) has a lot of white in it. That is limescale. At first glance, that doesn’t look bad enough to stop water flowing, but it may be creating a problem when the pump is running.

NRV and Hose

If you have the option to, you will want to split the pump. Only three screws were holding the motor and pump to the body, but there is a rubber O-ring in there, so split them carefully, so you do not damage the seal.

washing machine pump

You can see here that none of the splines (the four blades on the right) on the pump are broken, damaged, or stuck. If there are no other signs of damage, and you have heard the pump working, then you can be pretty certain that this is not the fault.

Check all of the other components for cracks, damage, or signs of wear. If any are damaged, you will need to replace them.

Washing Machine Won’t Drain – Cleaning The Components

Now that you know that none of the parts are damaged, you can start to clean them.

For this stage, you will need some things:

  • A stiff brush, not wire. 
  • A plastic scraping tool.
  • High-pressure hose, not a pressure washer! Mains pressure is fine.
  • Descaling fluid. Make sure it is ok for use on rubber.
  • A bucket of hot soapy water.

Here are the steps to cleaning the parts:

  • Clean all of the components, except the pump motor, leave that out, in hot soapy water. That will remove any of the grime that has built up. Make sure that you use the brush to get into all of the hard to reach places. The last thing that you want to do is leave dirt in there and need to do this again in a week.
  • Make up some descaler solution in a bucket and soak all of the parts in it while you are cleaning the hose in the next step.
  • Use your garden hose or whatever you have to run a lot of water through the drain hose. If you can, attach the hose to the drain hose so that you can shake the drain to loosen the dirt as much as possible. If you are having a hard time with the drain hose, it may be beneficial to buy a new one. I didn’t need to buy one for this job, but they are not expensive.
  • Scrape the limescale off with your plastic scraper and the brush if you need to.
  • Rinse all of the parts well.
  • Dry them before reassembly. – Drying them may seem counterintuitive as it is a washing machine, but it ensures that you do not get water into electrics and other rustable parts while you are putting them back together.

That is all of the steps. Ensure to take your time with them, though. As I have already said, you do not want to be doing this again shortly.


You may need to leave the rubber hose in the descaler for a while, depending on how bad it is. Remember to keep a check on it though, as you do not want to perish the rubber, or make it brittle. Again, if it is too bad, you may want to buy a new part.

Even when you think that the hose is clean, because there is no dirt coming out of it, it is probably not clean. Try to flex the hose as much as you can, and maybe leave some hot soapy water in it for a while. One tip is to turn the water on and off while it is in the drain hose to shock the dirt out.


Replace all of the parts that you removed. If you took pictures, work backwards. It is usually straightforward to remove components, as you take them off as you can get to them. However, when you are replacing them, you may not remember which part should go in first. Make sure that all of the rubber hoses are fully connected to the housings, and that all of the clips are tight. If any of the clips feel loose or worn, make sure that you are not putting the wrong one in place. If it still feels loose, you may want to buy a new one.

Do not overtighten screw clips, as you could crack the plastic housings and you will then need to replace them too. The only place that had a screw clip on this washing machine that wouldn’t drain was the drum, and that would not be an easy job to replace.

If you took it outside, you might want to fill the drum with water before taking it back inside, to make sure that there are no leaks.

Washing Machine Won’t Drain – Fixed

That should be everything done. Unfortunately, lint and limescale are two of the worst things for your washing machine. Regular cleaning with a good quality washing machine cleaner will help with the problem before you get to this stage again.

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