How to fix a leaky washing machine?
September 3, 2008 1:24 PM   Subscribe

HandymanFilter: How can I stop my washing machine from leaking? (Pictures and Video included)

It all started when we ran a load of wash using the "hot water" setting. Before then, we'd only used warm or cold water. Before then, we never had a single drop of water leak out. Now, we have at least a gallon of water on the floor after each wash (regardless of water temperature).

Could the hot water have caused a burst hose or a warped gasket? I've checked all of the hoses and hose clamps and they seem fine.

I've noticed that the water really only leaks out when the washer is filling with water - I checked the inlet hoses and there are no leaks there (at least on the outside of the washer).

Disassembling this thing to get a closer look is a nightmare. I tried it the other day but gave up.

Here are some pictures and a video of what I can see.

At this point, my only guess is that the wash bin is leaking. However, that doesn't explain why the washer only leaks when filling up. You'd think if it were that, it'd leak constantly.

I'm out of ideas and appreciate any help you can give me. At this point, we're just throwing towels on the floor.
posted by charlesroper to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am in no way qualified to answer this, but if it only leaks while filling up shouldn't you be looking at the water pump?
posted by ghost of a past number at 1:40 PM on September 3, 2008

I may have mislabeled something - when I refer to the "pump" I am referring to the off-white plastic thing in the far left of this picture (with the hoses going to it). In actuality, this may not be the pump - I don't know much about washers. Maybe it's a drainage valve or something because one of those tubes goes to the drainage outlet.
posted by charlesroper at 2:00 PM on September 3, 2008

Every time my washer started acting in a way that made no sense I called a repair guy who took a two second look and grunted like it was the most obvious think in the world. Also, I have never owned a washer that did not cost at least a few hundred bucks a year in repairs. At the risk of being lame, call a qualified repair person for your washer brand. Chances are they've seen it many times before.
posted by GuyZero at 2:01 PM on September 3, 2008

If it only leaks while filling up, it seems very likely that your leak is somewhere between the inlets on the outside and the outlet where water enters the tub. Since it leaks with both hot and cold washes, you can further narrow it down to somewhere between the fill valve (where the hot and cold water mix) and the outlet to the tub (including the fill valve itself).

It usually isn't too difficult to remove the entire cabinet (the steel case around the machine). Once the machine is open, run it and you'll probably be able to see the source of your problem.

if it only leaks while filling up shouldn't you be looking at the water pump?

No. The machine fills due to water pressure. The pump is used during the cycle, but not to fill the tub.
posted by ssg at 2:05 PM on September 3, 2008

@ GuyZero - yeah, I was afraid of that. I'm just a cheap ass and thought it might be a simple fix that would prevent me from having to pay $$$ for parts and labor.
posted by charlesroper at 2:11 PM on September 3, 2008

@ssg, great advice. Thanks.

I guess I just have to get the outside cabinet off somehow to get a closer look. There are just a few screws that seem absolutely impossible to reach. I'll try again before I call someone in to repair it.
posted by charlesroper at 2:14 PM on September 3, 2008

So yeah, don't let me dissuade you completely. After several visits I am nearly ready to do the next repair myself. They're really not very complex in general.
posted by GuyZero at 2:15 PM on September 3, 2008

You'll find diagrams showing you how to open up different types of machines here.
posted by ssg at 2:18 PM on September 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Something similar happened to me once. Turned out that the tubing attached to the bleach receptacle had come loose. Fixing it only required removing the front cover of the machine (top loader), reinserting it (pressure fit), and then pipe clamping it for good measure).

Something to check.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:20 PM on September 3, 2008

When this happened to me, it was b/c the water filling the tub was being deflected up and out of the tub (which "floats" in the washer housing). It happened after we had the pipes in the house replaced, which increased the water pressure coming out of the lines. The incoming water bounced off of the clothes, and up and out over the flange of the tub, leaking out of the bottom of the cabinet. (We fixed it simply by adding water first, then clothes.)

Perhaps the pressure coming out of your hot line is stronger than the cold line? Stick a pencil (or something) in the pressure-plate on top of the washer, so you can see what happens when the hot water flows in. (Or run a load without clothes, and see if it still leaks.)
posted by turducken at 2:21 PM on September 3, 2008

Most washing machines are really easy to open once you know how. Look for instructions online, usually there is a little recessed latch or hidden screw, and then the whole front/side assembly just folds down.
posted by markblasco at 2:38 PM on September 3, 2008

Overwhelmed with helpful advice - thanks everyone.

@ssg - that illustration was EXACTLY what i needed. I had no idea that I had to remove those clips (properly named "Cabinet Retaining Clips" - lol). I'll try removing it tonight to discover the source of the leak.

@turducken - I thought that at first, but ran a load of wash with nothing else in the machine and it still leaked.

I'll remove the cabinet tonight and see what I discover.
posted by charlesroper at 2:57 PM on September 3, 2008

Hmm. I'm... just talking out loud. Only leaks when it fills? Not when it's washing or draining... Doesn't smell or sound any different?

Does it take any longer to fill? (And did you notice you're missing a stopper off the bottom - that'll cause you other problems later on.)

Hmm. I've assumed it's a top loader?? So the hoses attach to the top... and I assume no water drips off them at all? You've pulled the hoses off the machine itself and had a look? (Torch/ clean rag?)

Could it be something to do with a wonky sprayer even?? Instead of going IN some of the water flow is going awry and then trickling out, maybe. Does it make a difference depending on how hard the taps are turned on? And just sitting there but all hooked up it doesn't leak, huh?

Your problem starts at the tap, when it turns on. And ceases (completely?) when the water shuts off. If it was a crack or a leak, it would just keep coming. Unless it needs the water to force 'it' open? But you would see a weakening/ worsening problem or rusty debris (which may start soon anyway). Depending on what kind of fabric softener reservoir it has, the problem could be there? Filling when it's not meant to and/or it just getting flooded over. And then that would involve solenoids..(is that what they're called??) They get all crusty anyway, however you clean 'em - do that, and see how that goes?

If the pump was fucked it would just sit there full of water and whine at you (and smell funny if it was the motor), I would think...

Again I'm just musing out loud - but it's not the pump. And it's not the drum. It's something before all of that. Ruling out taps, hoses and all of the hose fittings. The problem is somewhere between entering the machine to where it then enters the drum. I don't think it's a breach I think it's a mistake - water purposefully going... somewhere it ultimately shouldn't?

Doh, on preveiw - What they said. And yeah, the top should just pop off.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 3:01 PM on September 3, 2008

@mu~ha - I think you're on the right track. Hopefully the cabinet should just pop off tonight and I'll be able to clearly see where this darn leak is.

My guess is that the pressure from the hot water expanded something near the fill valve, as suggested earlier, and water is just trickling all the way down.

I'll be sure to update this question with anything else I find out later tonight (for those still interested).

Glad to hear that it's probably not the drum because it's a Whirlpool and I don't really want to have to buy one of those spanner nut wrenches.
posted by charlesroper at 3:27 PM on September 3, 2008

Only leaks when it's filling? A similar thing happened to me recently and it took me 50 quid to find out the 3 quid answer.

On a lot of machines there's a little rubber hose that goes from the top of the drum housing to a little pressure switch. This switch senses the increased air pressure in the drum as it fills with water. If this hose has split, or come lose, the air pressure is lost and the drum will not stop filling at the correct time and dump water all over your floor. probably worth checking out.
posted by Jakey at 4:03 PM on September 3, 2008

I had a similar problem with our Maytag washer. The problem was a collapsed filter in the supply line. It was accessed by lifting the top. The filter was not visible until I took off the supply line and then I could see that there was a filter inserted inside the rubber line. I got that replaced and all has been fine for a long time.
posted by JayRwv at 6:32 PM on September 3, 2008

Thanks to some helpful advice, I was able to remove the cabinet tonight. Just as suggested, there were only two clips holding the whole cabinet in place (and here I was trying to remove EVERY single screw!).

Anyway, once I got that off, it was pretty easy to see that the drain pump had ruptured and was slowly leaking. The rupture must have been caused by friction and was accelerated by the use of the hot water cycle.

I guess I misspoke earlier when I said it only leaks when filling. Now when I turn the water off, I can clearly see the pump continue to leak. Sorry for the confusion.

Here's a video I took tonight that helps explain it.

Now that I've identified the problem, I need to repair or replace this pump. RepairClinic sells them online for $40, but I think I'll try using some good 'ol JB Weld to seal it up first and see if it will hold.

Thanks everyone!
posted by charlesroper at 9:56 PM on September 3, 2008

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