How to Repair a Leaking Washing Machine
Fix the most common leaks yourself and avoid a $75 service call.
A full day
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.
- 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Adjustable wrench
- Putty knife
- Slip joint pliers
- Socket/ratchet set
- Repair parts as needed
There are only so many places from which a washing machine can leak. In this how-to article we cover the most common types of leaks — from the hose, pump and tub — but there may be additional problem areas specific to your brand of machine. There are two types of washing machine repair: 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.
But before you do anything else, make sure the water on the floor isn’t the result of a plugged floor drain. It happens!
Project step-by-step (19)
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.
- If the hoses are in good shape, replace the internal washers only.
- Note: Special no-burst hoses, regular hoses and new hose washers are available at home centers and hardware stores.
Unscrew the Water Supply Hoses
- Turn off the water main or shutoff valve.
- Unscrew the supply hoses from the back of the machine with adjustable pliers.
- Pry out the old hose washers with a flat-blade screwdriver.
- Install new gaskets in both hoses and reconnect the supply lines.
Look Inside the Machine
- If the supply hoses aren't leaking, reconnect power and water supply to the washing machine.
- Unscrew the access panel from the back of the machine or open the cabinet.
- Look for leaks while the machine fills with water.
- If you don't see any, advance the machine to the agitate cycle and check again.
- Note: 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.
Remove the Old Hose
- If you've found a leaking hose inside the washer, squeeze the hose clamp together, slide it down the hose and pull off the hose.
- Note: Hoses tend to leak around a worn-out spring clamp.
- Pro tip: Keep a bucket or pan handy so you can catch any residual water left in the hoses.
- Replace the hose with an identical part and new worm-drive clamps.
Replace a Leaky Pump
- Note: The pump usually leaks around the pulley seal. If you spot water leaking from this spot, the pump is shot and will have to be replaced.
- If a leaky pump is your problem, disconnect the power and water supply again.
- Tip the machine up against the wall.
- Block up the front with a car jack or 2x4s so it can't tip over while you reach underneath.
- If the belt is darkened from burning or is worn down to the threads, replace it, too.L
Loosen the Bolts
- Loosen the two motor mounting bolts to relieve tension on the belt.
- Note: One will be at the rear of the cabinet and the other is nearby.
Remove the Old Pump
- Disconnect the pump hoses.
- Unscrew the pump mounting bolts.
- Tip the pump pulley away from the belt and wiggle the pump loose.
- Note: Direct-drive pumps will simply unscrew or unclip.
Install the New Pump
- Slide the pump lever into the agitator slot and align the belt with the pump pulley.
- Line up the bolt holes and firmly tighten the mounting bolts.
- Reconnect all hoses and clamps.
Retighten the Bolts
- Pull against the motor to tension the belt and then tighten the rear motor mounting bolt.
- Note: The belt should deflect about 1/2 inch when you push against it.
- Tighten the mounting bolt located on the opposite side of the motor.
- Note: 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.
- Before proceeding, make sure that telltale drips are coming from around the tub.
- Note: 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.
- Note: You'll need a special spanner wrench to remove the tub and replace the tub fittings on this type of machine. It's available at your local appliance parts supplier.
Lift the Lid
- Slide a small putty knife between the washer lid and the cabinet.
- Push the putty knife against the spring catch while lifting up on the lid.
- Release both catches and fold the lid back.
Lift Out the Tub
- Pop off the tub ring clips.
- Lift the tub ring out of the cabinet and set it aside.
Remove the Agitator
- Twist or pry the cap off the agitator.
- Unscrew the attachment nut and pull the agitator up and off the drive shaft.
Loosen the Spanner Nut
- Hold the inner tub tight to the outer tub.
- Rap the special spanner wrench to break the spanner nut free.
- Remove the spanner nut.
Lift Out the Inner Tub
- Lift the inner tub up and off the drive shaft.
- Pro tip: You might have to wiggle it back and forth to help work it loose.
Remove the Old Tub Seals
- Unscrew the old leaky tub seals from the outer tub.
- Pro tip: Later, when you install the new tub seals, make sure the metal washer is on top of the rubber washer.
- Note: 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. But if the tub is completely rusted through around the bolt, it's time to buy a new washing machine.
Loosen the Drive Block
- Tap up on the drive block with a hammer to break it loose from the drive shaft.
- Pull off the drive block and set it aside.
- Lift the outer tub from the cabinet, twisting it back and forth to work it loose.
Remove the Air Dome
- Twist the air dome a quarter turn and pull it free from the outer tub.
- Pry off the old air dome seal and replace it with a new one.
Remove the Post Gasket
- Note: 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. While you're at it, replace the air dome seal as well.
- Squeeze the center post gasket together and pull it from the bottom of the outer tub.
- Install a new center post gasket.
- Reassemble the washing machine and run a test cycle.
Buying Appliance Parts
Washing machine parts are available at appliance parts distributors. 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.