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How to Repair a Leaking Washing Machine

Don't panic when the washing machine starts leaking water all over the floor! You can usually fix the problem yourself within and hour or two at a fraction of the cost of calling a service technician. And only rarely will you have to purchase a new machine.

This article will help you avoid the expensive service call by showing you how to diagnose and fix the most common washing machine leaks.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

  • COMPLEXITY
  • ComplexityComplexityComplexity Moderate
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    Some repairs, like replacing leaky hoses, are simple but a few, like replacing a pump or drum seals, are a bit more are complex.

  • COST
  • CostCost $20 - $100
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    New parts run from about $2 (hose clamp) to $50 (pump). Two special tools, hose clamp pliers and a spanner wrench, cost less than $20 each, if needed.

Where most common leaks occur

Figure A shows where the most common washer leaks occur. We cover hose, pump and tub leaks, but there may be additional problem areas specific to your brand of machine. There are two types of washing machines: belt drive and direct drive. If you open up the cabinet and don't find any belts, then you've got a direct-drive machine. Repairs are similar for both machines, but generally easier on the direct-drive unit. The following photos are from a belt-drive washing machine. If you have a direct drive, refer to your owner's manual or diagrams (see “Buying Parts”) for brand-specific details.

Tip: Make sure the water on the floor isn't the result of a plugged floor drain. It happens!

Replace leaky supply hoses

The first step is to locate the source of the leak. Empty the washing machine, move it away from the wall and start the fill cycle. Look for drips around the water supply hose connection at the back of the machine while it fills with water. Shut off the water and replace any old, heavily corroded or rusted hoses with new ones (photo). If the hoses are in good shape, replace the internal washers only. Special no-burst hoses, regular hoses and new hose washers are available at home centers and hardware stores.

Caution!

Unplug the machine before performing any repairs.

Replace leaky internal hoses

If the supply hoses aren't leaking, open the cabinet and inspect the internal components. Belt-drive machines typically have a rear access panel that unscrews. Access direct drive machines by removing the two screws on the outside of the control panel and flipping up the lid. Then pry up the cabinet clips and pull off the entire cabinet. With the cabinet open, restart the fill cycle to check for internal leaks (Photo 1). Look for additional clues like rust and calcium deposits. Most often you'll find the leaks in the spots we show in Figure A.

Hoses tend to leak around a worn-out spring clamp. First try to remove the spring clamp with an adjustable pliers. If you can't get it, you'll need a special hose clamp pliers (Photo 2) available from your local parts supplier. Replace the old spring clamp with a new worm-drive clamp (photo below). If the hose itself is cracked and leaking, remove it and take it to the appliance parts supplier for a replacement.

Replace a leaky pump

The pump usually leaks around the pulley seal (see Photo 3). If you spot water leaking from this spot, the pump is shot and will have to be replaced.

To replace the pump, work from underneath the machine. Unplug the machine and tip it up against the wall. Block up the front with a car jack or 2x4s so it can't tip over while you reach underneath. Replace the pump as shown in Photos 1 – 4. If the belt is darkened from burning or is worn down to the threads, replace it, too.

Replace worn-out tub fittings

The most challenging repair is fixing a leaking tub fitting, whether it's the air dome seal, the center post gasket or the tub seals. (See Figure A and photos for locations.) Before proceeding, make sure that telltale drips are coming from around the tub. The details of this repair vary by brand and model. The details we show are for most Whirlpool and Kenmore belt drives. Study a schematic drawing or consult a parts specialist if your machine is different from what we show.

You'll need a special spanner wrench (Photo 4) to remove the tub and replace the tub fittings on this type of machine. It's available at your local appliance parts supplier. Follow Photos 1 – 5 to access the tub fittings. You can open the top of many machines by releasing the spring catches (Photo 1). However, on others you have to unscrew several screws and lift off the entire cabinet. Look in your owner's manual or at a parts diagram. (See the manufacturer's Web site or one of the sites listed in “Buying Parts.”) You'll have to unscrew the water inlet and the tub snubber (Photo 1) before unclipping the ring (Photo 2). Fastening systems for these vary by brand, as do attachment methods for the agitator (Photo 3) and inner tub (Photo 4).

There are four tub seals that secure the outer tub to the cabinet, each consisting of a bolt with a rubber and metal washer. Rust often develops around one of the tub seals, causing a tub leak. A new tub seal kit will come with four new bolts and oversized rubber and metal washers that will seal small leaks (Photo 6). But if the tub is completely rusted through around the bolt, it's time to buy a new washing machine. Replace all four tub seals as shown in Photo 6.

If the leaking occurs only when the machine is agitating, a bad center post gasket (“doughnut”) is the culprit. Remove the outer tub to replace the center post gasket (Photos 8 and 9). While you're at it, replace the air dome seal as well (Photo 8). Reassemble the washing machine and run a test cycle.

Metal ID plate

Metal ID plate

Buying Appliance Parts

Washing machine parts are available at appliance parts distributors. (Look in the Yellow Pages under “Appliance Parts.”) Try to find a parts supplier with well-informed staff, ideally ex–repair technicians, who can provide diagrams and help diagnose any problems specific to your brand of machine. A great Internet source is www.searspartsdirect.com. Enter your model number to access exploded-view diagrams and a thorough parts list for easy on-line ordering.

You'll need the brand and model number for proper part identification. Model numbers are usually stamped on a small metal plate located under the tub lid or on the side or back of the machine. Copy down all the plate information and take it along to the parts distributor.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Hammer
    • Socket/ratchet set
    • 4-in-1 screwdriver
    • Adjustable wrench
    • Putty knife
    • Slip joint pliers

Special tools: Hose clamp pliers, Spanner wrench

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Repair parts as needed

Comments from DIY Community Members

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1 - 7 of 7 comments
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July 20, 5:35 PM [GMT -5]

Thank you for the tips but it didn't help me a bit...i have a twin tub manual washing machine with a modyl brand...when I fill in water it comes out at the same without even on the drain mode..well thanks again!!

May 05, 11:53 AM [GMT -5]

I want to thank you so very much for the DIY tips that you have on here. I was almost ready to call the repairman because the floor was flooding at all times meaning it had to be an intake hose, but there were no leaks anywhere. It ended up being a hole in a hose I previously repaired from rubbing when the load was uneven (two boys and two teenage girls help with the laundry, got a fix for that?). Thank you again!

April 27, 4:50 PM [GMT -5]

I have a Whirlpool top loader and have had a small amount of leaking only when I start my laundry for the week. I was able to open my machine and found out that it is leaking from under the tub. But the strange thing is, it is only leaking when I run hot water. this makes sense since it's always my first load I run with hot water each week.

It looks like both the hot and cold water come into the same location in the top back of the machine. So, what would make it leak only with hot water?

February 10, 5:29 PM [GMT -5]

My daughter installed her washing machine at the house she recently moved into. When she tried to do a large load the water would drain out of the tub before the agitator could even get started. As we puzzled over the problem, I remembered having the same issue with one of my newly installed washing machines. The problem was that the drain hose was installed too low and was creating a vacuum which drew all the water out of the tub before the wash cycle could begin. My daughter installed a length of PVC into the drain that brought the hose higher than the outtake on the machine. No more water on the floor.

November 25, 10:52 AM [GMT -5]

Thanks for the assistance. I had a leak in the pump hose and was able to fix it, thanks for the detailed instructions and pictures! Truly a help during the holiday season.

February 16, 1:12 PM [GMT -5]

I have a a problem with my washer. It has a bad odor that I can"t get rid of. This is not a high efficiency machine, just a regular top load. I have tried the Tide cleaner for this and it didn"t help. I even tried vinegar and baking soda at one cup each to a large water level through two complete washes and that didn"t help. I measure the amount of detergent I use for each load to keep from using too much and causing soap residue problems. What else can I do? Thanks for any suggestions.

July 27, 10:35 PM [GMT -5]

I liked the article, but it did not help me with my problem. A friend has a used Kenmore above/below washer that was leaking. I checked the hoses and they are good, but I am not sure which way to reconnect the hoses. The pump is an older model and looks like "an enclosed water wheel" attached to the side of the pump. One hose attaches to the center of this wheel and sticks out "like an axxile, the other hose connects to the "rim." But which is which?

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