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How to Fix a Washer Machine Drain Backing Up?

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

Washers are meant to make our lives easier. They do the tedious work of washing our clothes, while we’re free to get on with something far more interesting!

However, sometimes things don’t go as well – and we can end up having to put more effort in to fix the problem!

This can be the case if your washer isn’t draining properly, and the waste water is backing up.

Well, don’t worry, as this guide will take you through what can go wrong, and if there’s anything you can do to fix it!

Washing Machine Drain Backs Up

A washing machine drain that backs up can be a real nightmare! At worst, it can result in unwanted waste water from your washer in places you don’t really want it!

You can end up with leaks, water damage, and expensive repair bills if you don’t solve the problem soon.

There are quite a few things that can cause this issue. Let’s have a look at some of them!

Problems With Shared Drain

Your washing machine might well not be the only thing that’s using the drain pipe! Very often, the drain pipe from your washing machine is also the drain pipe for other things in your kitchen – most obviously, your sink!

If this drain pipe gets clogged up with food deposits and grease, then it can cause issues with draining your washer too.

You might even notice water from your washer being forced into your kitchen sink (see also ‘How To Unclog A Double Kitchen Sink With Standing Water‘)! If you have clogged pipes causing water to back up, then they’ll need to be cleaned out.

There are home methods you can use, but some serious clogs will need professional help to solve.

Too Much Water From The Washer

Your washer might well be putting out too much water for your drain to handle. This is a common problem in homes that have older piping.

A lot of older pipes are narrower than those intended for modern washers, and as such simply don’t let water flow quickly enough to drain out.

Modern drain pipes for washers are usually 2 inches in diameter – older pipes are smaller, and too restrictive for the flow rate of modern washers.

Unfortunately, in this case you might have to have some new piping installed, and the old removed. You’ll might have to get a plumber to solve this problem, unfortunately!

Blocked Pipes/P-Trap

Blocked up pipes can happen for many reasons – not just food waste and grease from the kitchen sink! Mineral or other deposits can build up in pipes over time, for example.

And if you have cast iron pipes (which are a common feature in many older homes) then you might have to deal with rust building up on the inside. A rusty pipe restricts flow, and can lead to your washer not draining correctly.

Many homeowners live with the original cast iron pipes, and decide to keep maintaining them. Others choose to remove them and replace them with modern piping. Either way, keeping these pipes in good condition is key to good drainage from your washer.

There’s another key thing that can get blocked up, and cause your washer drain to back up. The p-trap, a curved section of pipe which is designed to prevent clogs, can actually end up clogged itself.

You’ll have to unclog it to get your washer to drain properly again.

Malfunctioning Washing Machine

Another key reason why your washer’s drain might backup is because the machine itself is malfunctioning. A malfunctioning washer can cause all sorts of issues – and, unfortunately, can be caused by all sorts of issues too!

How to fix a Washer Machine Drain Backing Up?

In some cases, these can be an easy fix, but as with all complex machines, there’s always a chance that the machine might simply be too broken for it to be fixed easily.

If it can be repaired economically, then great – but malfunctions can sometimes be too costly or difficult to repair, compared to the cost of buying a new machine. This is especially true on older machines – one part failing can be a sign that others are not far off.

Perform A Reset

Some issues with washing machines can be solved simply by performing a reset on the machine.

This will essentially put the electronics of the machine back in the same state they were in at the factory. This can help in the unlikely event that something goes wrong in this department.

This doesn’t work on all machines, as they don’t all have a reset function. However, make sure to check the user manual of your machine to see if this is an option for you.

If so, it’s often the easiest thing to check, and in which case it should be done first. Make sure to read the instructions in your user manual very carefully before doing anything with your machine, of course!

Check The Door/Lid

If you’ve got problems with the lid or door of your washer, then it could cause issues with other parts of the machine.

The washer needs to know that the door or lid is shut before it can safely operate – and won’t function at all if the door or lid isn’t closed.

Sometimes this can be something as simple as a seal being misplaced, or something sticking in the catch. Other times, it might be an electronic failure.

If there’s a sensor that detects whether the washer door or lid is closed, and it fails, the washer will refuse to operate.

If there’s pooled water in your machine, the washer will need to have the door or lid closed before it’ll be able to start up and drain it.

Check The Drain Hose

Drain hoses can get blocked, just as other pipes can. This can often be a cause of the washer drain backing up. If the pipe is blocked, water simply won’t be able to flow through it!

Depending on your machine and the installation, this might be something that’s relatively easy to check for yourself.

As the drain pipe is flexible, it might be kinked in some way. This can also cause the drain to back up, as water won’t be able to flow through it. In which case, you should simply unkink the hose.

If the hose has a hole, then it can leak too. It’s not worth trying to repair it – just replace it.

Clogged Pump?

To remove water from the washer, there needs to be a working drain pump. A clogged drain pump is a real pain, and can be a cause of pooled water in the bottom of your washer.

This commonly happens when small items of clothing get “swallowed” by your machine.

If they end up in the drain pump, they’ll block it up and stop the washer from removing waste water.

Some washing machines may allow you to inspect certain parts such as this to see if there’s anything blocking the way. Read the owners manual carefully to find out what you can do if this is the problem on your machine.

Check The Coin Trap

Washers often have a coin trap, designed to prevent objects from flowing into your drain. This should stop small coins from blocking your drain, and causing your machine to back up.

However, if this is damaged or missing from your machine, then it won’t be able to stop anything getting in!

And if it gets clogged, then it might be another reason why your washer drain is backed up.

Have a good look at the coin trap, and see if it’s blocked or damaged in any way. If you can clean it out, it can help your washer to drain properly.

Time To Repair? Or Should You Replace?

If there are broken parts on your machine that are causing it to malfunction, and not drain properly, then you might consider having them repaired.

If the repairs are inexpensive and get the machine working in a timely fashion, then this can be the best way to go.

However, some machines simply aren’t possible to fix, even if the problem is small.

If it’s not possible to get replacement parts, and there aren’t any alternatives that fit, then you might well be out of luck, even if the part itself should be cheap and easy to fit!

Othertimes, you can end up throwing money away keeping an old machine going. If it costs you the same to repair as it will to buy a new machine, then it rarely makes sense to keep the old one going.

Even if the fix is inexpensive compared to the cost of a new machine, will this be the last fix you need to do? It’s something you have to consider if something goes wrong with your washer.

Options For Solving Drainage Problems

If you’re having problems with drainage when it comes to your washer, then you might want to know about some alternative solutions. Here are a few ideas which could help you with this issue!

Laundry Tub

A laundry tub requires a separate installation, but is often recommended by washing manufacturers. This provides an alternative place for waste water from your washer to be drained into.

Doing this means that your other drain pipes aren’t being dominated by the flow from your washer, and can help prevent clogs to the drain. However, it’s not for everyone.


Standpipes are generally considered to be one of the best ways to ensure that water doesn’t get backed up into your washer. A standpipe uses height to prevent drain water from back flowing into the machine from the drain outlet.

Generally, this is how most washers should be connected to a drain if possible, as it’s the easiest way to prevent many drainage and water back-up issues.

Direct Underground Pipe

However, some people choose to have a direct underground drainage pipe installed just for their washer. This can be a costly method, as it can involve a whole lot of construction, plumbing, and physical labor!

However, once it has been finished, it can be a great way to ensure that your washer always has the dedicated drainage it needs, instead of having to share it.


If your washer drain keeps backing up, then likely it’s a massive source of frustration. And with so many things that could cause it, no wonder!

Hopefully, this guide has helped you to figure out and solve the problem of your backed up washer drain!

author avatar
Charlie Hardcastle


On Key

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Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases. When it comes to dealing with clogged drains, many homeowners turn