A puddle in the laundry room almost always means that your washing machine is leaking. Fortunately, some puddles mean that only a minor repair is needed; others indicate a larger problem. No matter the reason or the brand of your washer, every leak needs to be investigated and repaired before the puddle becomes a flood that can cause further damage to your home.
While some leaks have universal causes in both front-loading and top-loading washers, these tips will help you identify the problem depending on the type of washer in your laundry room. Once you've pinpointed the source of the leak, you may be able to do the repairs yourself.
Before You Begin
Before you begin diagnosing your washing machine and making any repairs, it's important to prevent electrical hazards and any floods or leaks from your plumbing. Turn off the machine using its controls, unplug the power cord from your outlet, and ensure all water valves are switched to the "off" position.
Top-Load Washer Leaks
Leak at the Front of Washer
- Clogged overflow tube: Leaks at the front of a top-load washer are usually caused by a clogged or tilted overflow tube. Clogs can happen from excess suds caused by using too much detergent or combining laundry products inappropriately. Oversudsing can easily happen in homes that have a water softening system. With softer water, less detergent is needed for effective cleaning. To test if you are using too much detergent, take a freshly washed item, like a small hand towel, and place it in a bowl of hot water before drying. If the water becomes sudsy, you are using too much detergent.
- Unleveled or overloaded washing machine: The washer can leak if it is overloaded or out of balance. Check to be sure the washer is level, reduce load sizes, and keep an eye out for the leak. This simple solution may solve the problem.
- Adjusted spray rinse timers: If you have a washer that features a spray rinse function, interfering with the cycle by manually advancing the timer can cause the washer to leak. The manual advance can often cause the spray rinse cycle to go on too long and overflow.
Leak at the Back of Washer
- Drain plug not removed: If your top-load washer is new, you may have forgotten to remove the manufacturer's drain plug before installing the drain hose. Remove the hose and you'll find a plastic plug that must be removed and discarded. Have a bucket and towels ready to catch the excess water.
- Unsecured hoses: A leak at the back of the washer can also be caused by a drain hose that's not properly secured in the drainpipe. Be sure that the hose is fully inserted into the standpipe (drainpipe). If there is still a leak around the drain hose, especially during the washer spin cycle, the drainpipe is probably clogged. The clog is not allowing the water to continue down the pipe and causing it to back up and overflow onto the floor.
- Loose hose connections: Another possible cause for a leak at the back of the washer is a loose connection at the fill hoses. Turn off the water supply and remove the hoses, then check that the rubber washers are in good shape (or if they are even there). Skipping the use of rubber washers is common and can cause leaks. If after replacing and hand-tightening the connections there is still a leak, replace the fill hoses. There could be a pinhole leak that will soon erupt into flooding your floor.
Leak Under Washer
- Water pump leak: A leak under the washer indicates a hole in the water pump. It should be replaced immediately to prevent water from falling directly on the motor, which will cause it to fail. If you are handy, you can find a repair manual for your washer model and replacement parts.
Front-Load Washer Leaks
Leak at the Front of Washer
- Unsealed gasket: The fix may be as simple as cleaning the gasket on your front-loading washer, as door seal leaks commonly lead to drips. If the door seal on a front-load washer is not kept free of soil and soap, the rubber seal will leak. This rubber seal is called a gasket, and it encloses the machine's drum to prevent water from seeping out when running. It is important to clean the gasket weekly and pay close attention to the edges. Inspect the seal and look for punctures or trapped items.
- Door out of alignment: A leak can also occur if the door is not closing properly. The hinges can be loosened and readjusted to ensure that the alignment is correct.
Leak at the Back of Washer
- Drain and inlet water hoses: The same problems that occur on a top-load washer with the drain hoses and inlet water hoses can happen with a front load washer. Follow the tips listed above to identify and repair the leaks.
- Excess suds: A front-load washer can also leak in the back overflow area due to too many suds. Always use high-efficiency (HE) detergent in a front loader and only use a small amount.
Leak Under Washer
- Unsealed drum seams: A front-load washer has an inner and outer drum. In many washers, the outer drum is manufactured in two halves and then bolted together. These seams can begin to leak and will need to be replaced or repaired.
- Water valve or pressure switch: If your washing machine is overflowing, this problem is usually caused by a water valve or a pressure switch inside the machine. The pressure switch tells your washer when to fill with water and how much to use, so an issue with this component can easily lead to overflows. After unplugging the machine and turning off the water taps, you can inspect the water level tube for any blockages. If no blockages are present, the switch itself may need to be repaired. Consider hiring a professional to ensure all electrical terminals are functioning properly or replace the switch if needed.
Why would a washing machine leak from underneath?
In top-loading washing machines, a leak underneath the machine may indicate problems with the water pump. This can cause serious problems and should be repaired quickly, as it can leak water onto the motor. In front-loading washers, the seams connecting the inner and outer drum can become unsealed, which requires repair or replacement.
Is it worth fixing a leaking washing machine?
Many problems that cause washing machines to leak can easily be repaired for a significantly lower cost than purchasing a new machine. While some issues can be fixed by homeowners, others might require help from a professional. Depending on the age of your washer and how easily its parts can be found, it can sometimes be more cost-effective to replace the machine.
How do you fix a washing machine that leaks?
Washing machines can leak for a variety of reasons, so the best way to determine how to repair your washer is to find the source of the leak. Next, consider which parts may be causing it and consult the machine's repair manual. Front-loading and top-loading washers can each require different methods of repair.
Can overfilling a washing machine cause it to leak?
Sometimes, the cause of a washing machine leak is as simple as leveling the machine. An unleveled or overloaded washer may leak when the fill sensors, valves, and drain hoses cannot function properly.