For some folks, the washing machine is man’s best invention after sliced bread. The convenience of being able to simply dump your laundry in the wash tub and press a few buttons to wash clothes in a faster and less labor-intensive manner is second to none.
More modern washing machines have become even more efficient in getting the job done. Clothes are washed quicker and more thoroughly than before.
But like every other piece of machinery, the washing machine is prone to intermittent faults that could sometimes lead to a total breakdown.
This is why you have to be careful with the use of your washing machine. It is important that they are used as per instructions.
Every machine comes with a user’s manual which ought to be read by every washing machine owner.
The best way to avoid a breakdown is to adopt best practices. Keeping your machine in the best condition will surely prolong its lifespan and productivity.
Nevertheless, washing machines are still machines – with little parts all over. All of which are subject to wear and damage.
One of the commonest faults associated with a washing machine is water leaks.
It is never a good sign to walk into the laundry room only to see a pool of water underneath or around your washing machine. Sights like that ring alarm bells and rightly so.
“Why is my washing machine leaking?” is a question most repairmen must have heard a number of times. And as you will expect, there isn’t one straight answer to that.
There are many reasons why your washing machine leaks. Finding any of the reasons will involve some close monitoring diagnosis.
Usually where a leak occurs around the machine could be indicative of the cause of the leak. However, further inspection is often required.
If the floor where the washer is placed is uneven, or the washer itself is unbalanced, deciphering the cause of leak from your machine due to the water pool’s location could be misleading.
This is because water always gathers at the lowest point of an uneven floor.
One way to really monitor the source of a leak is to place cardboard or old carton paper underneath the washing machine while it runs through its cycles.
This way, you will be able to monitor and identify where the leak comes from. The side of the machine where the water leaks from and the components around that region will indicate the cause of the leak.
Take note, however, that water leakage from the dispenser will always trickle down across the front of the washer, onto the floor.
Water leaks from dispensers are best diagnosed while the machine is in operation, so you can actually see the leak.
Identifying The Source Of A Washing Machine Leak
There are many possible source points of water leaks in a washing machine. And we will go through each of the common leak points in this section.
Now, because of the difference in orientation of components between front and top loaders, these two types of washing machines will be looked at separately.
Top Load Washers
Top load washing machines are loaded from the top, which is where it gets its name. The oldest and most traditional washing machines are top loaders. There are also modern top loading machines, though.
Water Leakages From The Front
- In a top load washing machine, when leaks occur at the front of the machine, it could be caused by a clogged or tilted overflow tube. This could occur because of excess suds from previous wash cycles.
Excess suds building up in a washing machine is often due to the use of too much detergent or a wrong combination of detergents.
- Some washing machines are installed in houses that use a soft water system. This is more likely to cause excess buildup of suds, consequently clogging the overflow tube.
- If you have a software system, make sure that you use less detergent to avoid this.
- If you want to know if the amount of detergent you use is too much, put a newly washed item in a bowl of fresh water. If the water becomes sudsy, this means that you are using too much detergent.
- Leakages at the front of a top loader could also be due to an unbalanced load in the washing machine. Having an unbalanced load in a washing machine is never good for the machine.
A good way to remedy this is to reduce the load size. Also, ensure that the water in the machine is level.
Water Leakages From The Back Of The Washing Machine
- One of the first things to check if your washing machine leaks from the back, is the drain hose. The drain hose drains used water away from the machine.
- If the drain hose is not properly secured in the drain pipe, a leakage might occur. You have to check to ensure that the drain hose is fully inserted into the drain pipe.
- If you check and find out that the drain hose is well inserted into the drain pipe, the leak could be due to a clogged drain pipe.
When the drain pipe is clogged, it causes water from the machine to rise and go back up the pipe.
This leads to an overflow of the water to the floor, rather than for the water to go through the drain pipe.
- Another common reason for water leakages at the back of a top loaded washing machine, is a loose connection(s) at the fill hose.
Water enters into the washing machine through the fill hose. The fill hose connects to the washer at the back of the washing machine and could be held in place by hose clamps.
- A loose connection or a rusty hose clamp could result in water leakage. And one way to check for this is to place some toilet paper around the fill hose while you run the machine. If the tissue gets wet, that indicates that the fill hose connection is loose.
Further investigation into the fill hose could let you know exactly why there is a leak.
- You could check if the rubber washers of the fill hose are in place. You have to turn off the water supply before you do this. And if your hose does not have a rubber washer, this could be responsible for the leak.
Water Leaks Under The Washing Machine
- A faulty water pump will cause water to leak underneath the washer, for top loaded washing machines.
- Check the water pump if you notice water under the machine. It is important you do this as soon as you notice the leakage.
You don’t want water from the water pump to fall directly on the motor as this could lead to total machine failure.
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Front Load Washers
With front load washers, laundry is loaded into the washing machine from the front. Many modern washing machines and high efficiency washers are front loaded machines.
Water Leakage At The Front
- When you spot water leaks at the front of your front-loaded washer, one of the first things to check is the door seal.
The door seal is designed to keep the wash tub water tight during the machine cycles. When soil and soap get into the door seal, it is very likely to cause a leak.
This is why the seal ought to be inspected for trapped items, holes or tears. The gasket of the door seal should be cleaned weekly if possible.
- A faulty door will also cause leakages with the washing machine. If the washer’s door does not close properly, it will surely leak.
- Check for any foreign objects that may be preventing the door from closing easily.
- Fixing a faulty door could involve you adjusting the door hinges by loosening and retightening them. You also have to make sure that the hinges are properly aligned.
Water Leakage At The Back Of The Machine
- At the back of the machine, the same challenge with drain and fill hoses identified with top loaders, also occurs with front loaders.
Leakages could occur because of loose fittings of the fill hose. Drain hoses improperly fitted into the drain pipes will also lead to leakages.
If the fill hose is missing its rubber washer or if it has an improperly fitted rubber washer, it is likely to cause leakages.
- A buildup of suds could also be responsible for water leakage at the back of the washer.
- For front loaded washers, always use high efficiency detergents. Ensure that small amounts of laundry detergent is used to minimize the buildup of suds.
Water Leakage Under The Washing Machine
- Water leakage underneath front-loaded washing machines could be due to leakage from the wash drum.
The outer drum of front-loaded washers is made of two halves bolted together.
If the integrity of the seams along the bolts is compromised, water could slip through the drum. In such a case, the wash drum will have to be replaced.
- Water could overflow from the washing machine. And while this is not technically a water leak, this could happen because of a faulty water valve or pressure switch.
Inspecting The Washing Machine Parts For Leaks
We have seen how the area where leaked water is found around the washing machines could indicate the source of the leak.
However, one still has to inspect the component where the leak originates from so you can fix the leak.
In this section, we’ll look at all the possible components in a washing machine where a leak could start from and how they should be inspected.
For all cases where the washing machine will have to be opened up, ensure the washing machine is switched off from the main plug. This is to eliminate any electric hazard.
Washing machines have many hoses. Some are internal and some are external. Most of the hoses are examined in the same way, the location of the leaked pool of water will determine the hose of interest.
Outside the washing machines, the fill and drain hoses are two of the most important components of interest when it comes to troubleshooting leakages.
- To investigate a leak that could come from them, first check to ensure that the hose is tightly fitted. A loose connection is a definite reason for a leak. Check the drain hose and be sure that it is in good condition and working fine.
- If the drain and fill hoses are fine, you will need to also check the internal hoses. Once again, ensure that the machine is unplugged.
- The cabinet of the machine should be opened up to have access to the internal hoses.
- Inspect each internal hose and check for any form of damage on the hoses.
- Look out for any cracks and abrasions.
- In many washers, hoses are connected using hose clamps. Inspect these clamps for rust or any loose fitting.
- If any form of damage is spotted in any of the hoses, they will have to be replaced. Old, rusted or weak hose clamps also have to be replaced.
Tub Cover Gasket
The Tub Cover Gasket provides a seal between the outer tube and the tub cover of the washing machine.
- To inspect the tub cover gasket, first ensure that the washer is switched off from the mains.
- To get access into the rub cover gasket, you need to remove the front panel or cabinet of the washing machine.
- And to identify the tub gasket, you may have to remove the tub cover to uncover the gasket.
- Once identified, check the gasket for any signs of damages.
- Also, look out for soapy water stains or any other indicators of water passing through the gasket.
- If any indication of damage, wear or water stains is observed, the gasket will have to be replaced.
Door Boot Seal
Door Boot Seals are used in front load washers to seal the space between the door and the outer tub. If your front loader washer leaks from the front or near the door, it could be that due to a damaged door boot seal.
- Before inspecting the door boot seal, ensure that the machine is unplugged.
- Open the washing machine door to examine the door boot seal.
- While inspecting the seal, look out for dirt, detergent build up or holes and scratches on the seal. Any detergent buildup in the seal will prevent a water tight closure of the door.
- Be wary of sharp foreign objects that could be stuck in the folds of the door boot seal. Any observable damage to the seal will require that it is replaced.
Usually, for front loaded washing machines, the door has to be kept tightly closed throughout the washing cycles. The door is kept shut by a door catch.
If the door catch is worn out, even though the door might close, it will fail to provide a watertight seal.
- Remove the front panel of the machine to access the door catch (this is model dependent).
- For some models, you simply have to remove the screws holding the door catch in place.
- Examine the door catch. Look out for cracks, discoloration, or any foreign objects that could be caught in it.
- Any wear or permanent damage to the door catch will require that the catch is replaced.
Leakages could occur through the filter in the washing machine. Usually you would check the filter if you notice water leaks under the filter.
- First, remove the filter cover.
- While doing so, be wary of water that could spill out from the filter housing.
- You could place a small towel underneath the filter to take care of any spillages.
- Remove the filter itself.
- If you notice water leaking from the filter area, it implies that the seal of the filter could be compromised and filled with dirt.
- Clean up the seal to ensure there is no contamination or dirt. The place where the filter touches the filter housing should also be cleaned.
Every washing machine has a drain pump. The drain pump drains used water from the washtub.
This pump is either belt driven or has a direct drive, depending on the mode of the washing machine. It could also be a separate electric pump.
- Before opening the panel of the washing machine, ensure that the machine is unplugged from the mains.
- Once the panel cover is removed, identify the drain pump.
- Check the area around the drain pump and investigate.
- Look out for loose hose clamps. Any rusted or loose clamps will have to be replaced.
- Also, look out for any faulty hose attached to the pump. If the pump itself is found to be faulty, it will need to be replaced.
Water Inlet Valve
The water inlet valve is a device used to control the entry of hot or cold water to the washing machine.
A faulty inlet valve could certainly be responsible for water leaking out from the washing machine.
- Before investigating the inlet valve, ensure the machine is unplugged for safety reasons.
- Remove the rear panel of the washing machine and identify the water inlet valve. The valve is often placed behind the hose connections.
- Once identified, remove the water inlet valve from the washer to inspect it.
- Look out for any debris or buildup of dirt. Any of such should be cleaned up.
- You have to be careful not to damage the screens of the valve as they cannot be individually replaced.
- If the valve screen is damaged, the entire inlet valve will have to be replaced.
- Also, check the valve for wear, cracks or any sort of damage.
- Check the terminals of the valves and obtain readings using a multimeter. The readings should be compared with what is typically obtained from the specific washing machine.
- Any faulty/out of range reading or observable damage on the water inlet valve will require that the valve is replaced.
Water Level Switch/ Pressure Switch
Modern washing machines are equipped with a water level switch or a pressure switch.
They control the water level during the water full portion of the wash or rinse cycles. A faulty water level switch could result in leakages.
- To find out if the water level switch is responsible for any water leakages, you will have to inspect it closely.
- Once again, the panel of the washing machine must not be opened until the machine is turned off from its mains.
- Open the panel of the washing machine to locate the water level switch. The switch is often located just behind the control panel. The switch has a characteristic air dome or hose that connects it to the wash tub.
- Inspect the switch to determine whether it is still in good condition. Look out for cracks or wear on the hose and confirm that the air dome is working properly.
- A good way to determine whether the hose is working fine, is to submerge it in water.
- Seal one end of the hose and blow into the other end while the hose is still submerged.
The occurrence of any bubbles escaping from the hose indicates that the hose is damaged. Also check that the hose is not obstructed.
- If the air dome and hose of the switch are in good condition, yet the washing machine still overflows, then the switch will need to be replaced.
The Tub Seal
The tub seal is an important part of the washing machine system. It prevents water from escaping at the point where the transmission shaft or basket shaft enters the wash tub.
No doubt, a damaged tub seal will cause water to leak from the machine during the fill or agitation period of a cycle.
- When it is safe, remove the front panel of the washing machine to reveal the place where the tub seal is located.
- Allow the wash tub to fill as normal.
- While the machine fills up, monitor the area where the transmission shaft enters the tub and look out for any water leak.
- For front loaded washing machines, you’ll have to remove the rear access panel of the washer.
- Check for water leaks from weep holes placed near the rear bearing housing. If any leakage is observed where the tub seal is, then the seal has been damaged. It will require replacement.
- It is important that you are careful while checking for a defective tub seal.
- The machine will be run while it is still open so that you can check for any leakage during the fill cycle. However, this can be unsafe to do.
- As a result, this could be best left to experienced repairmen who are trained to take the required safety precautions.
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Preventing Leakages From Your Washing Machine
Like we have said, washing machines, like every other machine are prone to the occasional break down.
Yet, there are steps you can take to limit the chances that your washer will leak. We will discuss a few.
Clean The Washing Machine Often
As it has been discussed earlier, a buildup of dirt and soap residue could be detrimental to your washing machine. These could damage seals at various points in the washing machines.
It is therefore important that you wash the washer at least once a month. Use solutions that have been approved by the washer manufacturers to ensure the inside of the washing machine is kept very clean.
Check And Replace Water Supply Hoses
Water supply hoses wear out over time. They become brittle and tear easily, resulting in annoying leaks.
This is why you have to check the water supply hoses periodically. Check that they are in good condition and have not suffered any damage.
Old supply hoses should be replaced with newer ones. New supply hoses have flexible plastic tunings that are encased in stainless steel. These hoses are more expensive than the plastic ones, but they are more durable.
Also, consider upgrading to new auto-shut off connector hoses. These types of hoses protect against water leaks by automatically shutting off the water supply the moment excess water flow is detected.
Use Flood Protection Devices
There are automatic water leak detection devices designed primarily to prevent flooding.
These devices, when installed, individually shut off hot and cold water supply the moment the device senses a leak. The devices help protect against damages caused by water leakages and flooding.
Do Not Overload The Machine
Putting too many clothes into the washer at once is never a good thing. This overloads the washing machine.
If you notice very large vibrations or noise during a wash cycle, it most often indicates an overload. And this could seriously damage the machine.
Find out the load capacity of your washer from the manufacturers manual and ensure you do not go beyond it.
Keep The drains Clear
A clogged drain is one of the most common causes of water leakages from washing machines. Residue and debris could easily clog the drain hose.
This can be avoided by periodically removing and inspecting the drain hose. Also, ensure the hose is cleaned as often as possible.