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How to Unclog a Washer Drain in 8 Simple Steps

white washing machine

When a washer drain gets clogged, usually with dirt, hair, and grease, it can prevent the washing machine from being able to efficiently drain dirty water and dirt. The dirt is then left in the washer drum. Laundry won’t be properly cleaned, and clothes can come out dirtier than they went in.

Read on for eight steps to help clear your washer drain and to ensure that your machine can thoroughly clean your weekly laundry without the need to use extra power or water during future washing cycles.

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The 8 Steps to Unclogging Your Washer Drain

1. Detach the Drain Line

Workman attaches a drain hose to a sewage pipe of the washing machine
Image By: DUO Studio, Shutterstock

There are likely to be several pipes coming out of the back of your washer. This includes a water pipe or, in most cases, hot and cold water pipes. There is also a drainpipe. The drain should be the larger pipe and the water pipes will be marked in red and blue to represent hot and cold water.

You do need to ensure that you are pouring hot water or drain cleaner down the right pipe to be able to clean the drain. Detach the drainpipe, which is either loosely fitted and can be pulled off or might be tightened and needs unscrewing.

2. Use Hot Water

Glass Kettle
Image By: YouraPechkin, Shutterstock

If the blockage is only slight, it may be really easy to clean. Generally, if water is draining from the washing machine once the cycle has been completed but it is taking longer than usual, this is a good sign that there is a slight blockage.

In this case, pour hot water down the drain pipe. This may not work if the blockage is severe or if you regularly run hot wash cycles because these cycles will have regularly run hot water through the pipe anyway. However, there is no harm in trying.

3. Use Commercial Drain Cleaner

liquid chemical cleaner
Image By: LumenSt, Shutterstock

If hot water does nothing to shift the blockage, you can try a commercial drain cleaner. Buy a suitable cleaner and follow the instructions on the cleaner packaging.

You will need to determine what material your pipes are made of and then use a suitable cleaner. Some cleaners should not be used with PVC pipes, for example. Cleaners will not usually be effective if the pipe is completely blocked, but if some liquid can get through the blockage, you might find it to be an effective solution.

4. Clean the Pump

inspecting washing machine dirty clog
Image Credit: ReaLiia, Shutterstock

Remove the washing machine panel so that you can see the pump. The panel could be on the front or rear of the machine, and you may need to check the owner’s manual to determine its location and how to remove it.

If the pump is blocked, it will prevent water from being flushed through the pipes. There may not be a blockage at all, or a failing pump could prevent water from being pushed through with enough force to clear minor blockages. Unscrew the filter cap next to the pump and clean the filter using warm water or a damp cloth.

5. Check the Impeller

Impeller Washing Machine
Image Credit: Brett_Hondow, Pixabay

The impeller cycles and moves the water in the washing machine and looks like a small fan. Like the pump, it can become clogged especially with hair and other debris. And, like the pump, if the impeller is blocked, it can prevent dirt from being properly removed and may stop water from draining out. Carefully remove any dirt or debris and ensure that the impeller can spin properly before replacing it.

6. Use A Drain Snake

plumber holding a kinked drain/broken flexible drain hose of washing machine
Image Credit: ReaLiia, Shutterstock

Water and chemicals can remove some blockages. Water is effective against slight blockages while chemicals can remove a grease build-up. However, if the blockage is more serious—for example, if the whole drainpipe is filled with hair and grime—you may need to physically remove that blockage.

Unless the blockage is right at the end of the drainpipe, you will likely need some kind of tool to help with this. A drain snake is a long implement, typically made of plastic and flexible, that you can push down the drain to dislodge any build-up. Do be careful not to push the snake through the pipe.

7. Reattach the Hose

waste water drain from washing machine pipe
Image Credit: manop, Shutterstock

Once you’ve cleared out the impeller, filter, and pipe, you will need to reattach everything, including the drain hose. Fill and drain the empty washing machine to see whether your efforts have cleared the problem. Water should drain out of the machine immediately after the cycle has finished.

8. What’s Next?

If you are still struggling, you can buy a new drainpipe. It should be easy to remove the old pipe and replace it with the new one. Alternatively, you can get a professional washing machine engineer to diagnose and fix the problem for you. A plumber might also be required to remove any blockage from the external pipe that could be preventing water from leaving the washing machine.

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The washing machine is a regularly utilized appliance. Whether you’re a weekly washer or you have to run several loads every few days, a common problem that many owners face is that of a clogged or blocked drain.

The drain takes dirty water from the machine and pumps it into the wastewater system, removing it from the washing machine and ensuring that you can effectively do the laundry. In most cases, it is possible to clear a clogged drain yourself. It may even be possible to clear some basic blockage by running hot water through the pipes.


Featured Image Credit: PlanetCare, Unsplash


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