Tumble Dryer Keeps Saying Empty Water? Here’s why & what to do

If you own a condenser or heat pump tumble dryer you’ll be aware of just how convenient these appliances are. But sometimes, certain problems can arise which make it difficult to enjoy your dryer and appreciate the ways it makes your life easier.

One of those problems is the “empty water” error message or flashing “reservoir full” light. If this is the issue you’re having, keep reading, because in this article we look into the reasons why your appliance is displaying this message as well as the best ways to solve this annoying problem.

Why Is The “Empty Water” Error Message Showing On My Dryer?

There are several reasons for the “empty water” error message appearing on your dryer which include;

Probable CauseSolution
Water reservoir fullEmpty water reservoir
Reservoir not placed correctlyRealign the reservoir
Clogged filter(s)Locate and clean filter(s)
Clogged condenserClean the condenser and remove any blockages
Blocked condenser valveClean the valve
Faulty sensorContact a technician
Drain hose leakingCheck and fix the leaking drain hose
Defective pumpInspect and repair as necessary

Let’s look at these issues in more detail, but before we do, there’s one simple thing to try that could save you a lot of work and expense. And that’s to perform a power reset:

Perform A Power Reset

How To Perform A Power Reset On A Tumble Dryer

In some cases, the “empty water” message doesn’t clear after the reservoir has been emptied. To resolve this glitch, all you need to do is perform a reset on the dryer.

This works in much the same way as rebooting a PC, all you need to do is;

  1. Disconnect the power supply
    You can disconnect the power supply by removing the plug from the wall socket or tripping the circuit breaker.
  2. Wait for 10 to 15 minutes
    Allow all of the residual power to dissipate by allowing a reasonable time period to elapse.
  3. Reconnect the power supply
    Reconnect the plug into the wall socket and switch the power on or switch the circuit breaker to the “on” position.

The “empty water” error message should now be gone. If not proceed with the following;

Water Reservoir Full

This is the most obvious reason for the “empty water” error message to be displayed on the dryer. Ideally, you should empty the water reservoir (or tank) after every use.

The water reservoir is typically located on the top right-hand side of the appliance. You will need to open the drawer, remove the reservoir carefully and empty it. Then put the now empty reservoir back into the appliance.

If the water reservoir was full and you’ve now emptied it, the error message should go out.

Reservoir Not Placed Correctly

If you’ve emptied the water reservoir and the error message still remains visible, it could be that you never put it back in correctly. Take the reservoir out again and pay particular attention to the way it fits in.

In many cases this will solve the “empty water” error message and your appliance is ready to use again.

Clogged Filter(s)

Tumble dryers have several filters and different manufacturers site their filters in different locations. This makes it difficult for us to tell you exactly where the filters on your appliance are located.

Try looking at the bottom of the appliance near the condenser and around the inside lip at the top of the dryer. As these are common sites for tumble dryer filters.

If one of the filters is clogged, it can stop the water from the condenser reaching the water reservoir. This could cause the error message to be displayed.

Once the filters have been emptied and cleaned the error message should go out.

It’s worth cleaning the lint filter as well as this can often cause a myriad of problems if it becomes clogged. In fact, a clogged or full lint filter could have been the root cause for the other filters becoming clogged. 

If the lint doesn’t get trapped in the lint filter, it will travel around the system and eventually get caught in one of the other filters leading to this problem.

Clogged Condenser

The condenser regulates the amount of water that’s present in the dryer. If the condenser is clogged it cannot work correctly. You will need to clean the condenser.

Check the user manual for instructions on how to remove the condenser from your appliance. Then remove as much lint and dirt as you can by running cold water through the sides and ends of the condenser.

Once the condenser is clean, you should find that not only does the “empty water” message disappear, but also that drying times decrease and you save on your energy bills too.

Tumble Dryer

Blocked Condenser Valve

Over time, lint, fluff and hair can get to the valve on the condenser. This is another symptom of a clogged lint filter.

This lint etc will need to be removed and the valve thoroughly cleaned. You’ll find the condenser valve under the condenser panel.

Faulty Sensor (Float Switch)

Inside the water reservoir there is a sensor that detects the water level in the tank. As the water level rises it triggers the sensor which then sends a message to the control board which displays the “empty water” error message.

If the sensor develops a fault, it can cause the error message to be displayed even when the reservoir is empty.

Sometimes the sensor gets stuck in the full position by limescale and it might be possible to free it using white vinegar. However, you need to be careful that you don’t damage the float switch which is why we recommend contacting a technician to solve this one.

You might be able to find a replacement sensor but that depends on the make, model and age of your dryer. In many cases, you can still use the dryer even with this error message on display as long as you remember to empty the water reservoir after every use.

Drain Hose Leaking

Some condenser and heat pump dryers have the option to add a drain hose to eliminate the need for emptying the water tank after every use. If this is the case with your appliance, you’ll need to check that the drain hose hasn’t become loose.

If the drain hose has loosened, the chances are that the dryer is using the water reservoir again. You can solve this by reattaching the drain hose and emptying the water reservoir.

This can be a difficult job and will most likely involve moving the appliance away from the wall. You might need some help with this one. If you are not confident in fixing this yourself, contact a technician.

Defective Pump

Lastly, it could be a problem with the pump. You’ll need to consult your user manual to find out what the pump looks like and where it’s located. Remove the pump and remove any debris like lint, fluff, hairs or dirt.

Take care to not damage any of the plastic or rubber tubes in the pump whilst cleaning it. 

In many cases the rotor in the pump (which is often just a rubber band) can disintegrate. If this happens you will usually need to replace the pump completely.

Then take a look at the pump housing and remove any debris from there as well.

“Empty Water” Error Message Solved

So there you have it, all of the possible causes and solutions for solving the “empty water” error message. We hope that you found this helpful. If you have any other appliance related problems feel free to use our search bar to find other helpful diagnostic articles.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comment section below.

SEE ALSO: All Tumble Dryer Settings Explained

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my tumble dryer keep saying the water tank is full?

If your tumble dryer keeps saying that the water tank is full when you know that it’s empty, it could be that; the tank hasn’t been replaced correctly, the filter is clogged, the condenser is clogged, the float switch is jammed, the condenser valve is blocked or there’s a problem with the pump.

Why is my condenser dryer not collecting water?

If your condenser dryer isn’t collecting water it could be because; there is a blockage somewhere, the pump is defective or the tank isn’t fitted correctly.

What happens if you don’t empty the water tank on a tumble dryer?

If you don’t empty the water tank on a tumble dryer the appliance will stop working. The water tank needs emptying every so often. Ideally after every use.

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