Water In Washing Machine Drum When Not In Use? (here’s why)

If you have opened the door of your washing machine and found water in the drum, this article is for you. In this article we look at why your washing machine has water in the drum and what you can do about it.

There are only 2 reasons why there is water in the drum of your washing machine when it’s not in use which are;

  1. A Faulty Inlet Valve
  2. A Drain Hose Fault

You need to see whether the water is clean or dirty as this will determine what’s causing the problem.

  • Clean Water
    If the water in the drum is clean it indicates that the inlet valve is faulty and is allowing clean water into your machine when it’s not in operation.
  • Dirty Water
    If the water in the drum is dirty it indicates that the drain hose isn’t working as it should.

Please note: if you are not 100% confident with your abilities as an engineer, we would always advise consulting a professional plumber or washing machine technician to help.

Inlet Valve

The inlet valve is connected to the inlet hose which runs from the water supply and connects directly with the inlet valve. The inlet valve controls the flow of water into the machine. This allows the machine to wash and then rinse your laundry.

If the inlet valve develops a fault, it can cause the machine to fill up with water even when it’s not in use. The inlet valve operates by use of a solenoid which sends electricity to the valve to open at the correct point in the washing machine’s cycle. The valve is then closed to stop the flow of water when it is not needed.

As a natural part of the wear and tear of a washing machine, the solenoid can become weakened and doesn’t have enough power to fully close the valve. If the valve becomes faulty, it will not close properly and will then let water into the machine at an inappropriate time. 

Low Water Pressure

The inlet valve relies on a certain amount of pressure from the water supply to push against a part of the valve to shut off the supply of water to the machine. If the water pressure in your home drops, it could cause the valve to not close properly and allow water to seep into your machine.

How To Check The Water Pressure

All water authorities in the UK guarantee a water pressure of one bar. Without getting too technical, one bar is enough pressure to push water 10 metres. To check that your water pressure is at least one bar, time how long it takes to fill a litre jug with tap water.

If it takes six seconds or less, your home’s water pressure is at least one bar pressure. If it takes longer than six seconds, you need to contact your water authority.

Inlet Valve Filter Blocked

In some cases the inlet valve filter can become blocked or partially blocked with calcium. To check the filter you will need to turn off the water supply and then remove the inlet hose at the back of the machine. You will then be able to see the filter in situ at the end of the connector for the hose you just removed.

Look at the washing machine end, not the end you removed. You should see a small filter extended across the opening, it should be quite clean. If not it can be removed carefully using a pair of flat pliers and then washed out under running water.

Take extreme care not to damage the filter as any small hole could cause serious damage to your washing machine if anything were to enter via the water supply.

Calcium Buildup

Sometimes, in hard water areas, a buildup of calcium can cause the valve to not close correctly. With over 60% of the UK and around 85% of the US living in hard water areas there is a distinct possibility that this is the problem. It is often possible to remove the calcium and fix the valve without the need to replace it.

Replacing The Inlet Valve

It is possible to replace the inlet valve yourself as long as you have the correct replacement part for your make and model of machine. If you don’t feel confident or competent we strongly advise you to contact an electrician or plumber to perform this task for you.

If you decide to undertake replacing the inlet valve yourself, ensure the power supply is removed before starting. Then turn off the water supply and remove the top or back cover from your machine. Then disconnect the inlet hose from your machine and put the end of the hose into a bucket.

Then release the clamps from the black pipes attached to the solenoid valve and remove the valve. Then replace it with the new one.

Household Insurance

This is one of the reasons why manufacturers recommend turning the water supply to the washing machine off when the machine is not in use. If you were to leave your home unattended for a long period of time, you could come home to a flood if the washing machine has leaked. 

In many cases insurance policies could be voided because the washing machine manufacturer recommended switching the main water supply to the machine off when not in use.

Drain Hose

Washing Machine

If there is dirty water in the drum it usually indicates that the problem lies with the drain pipe. Drain pipes on washing machines are made from durable plastic which means they are relatively strong. However they are also flexible which means they have the capacity to become bent or kinked.

Bent Drain Hose

If the drain pipe becomes bent, it can inhibit the flow of waste water from the machine when it is on the drain cycle. This could explain why dirty water is left in the drum when the machine has finished. However, the pipe might not be bent, it could be blocked.

Blocked Drain Hose

To check if the drain hose is blocked you’ll need to remove it from your machine. It’s a good idea to have a bucket handy in case the pipe is full of water. To remove the hose, all you need is a screwdriver to loosen the clamp on the back of the machine. 

Then pull the pipe from the machine and hold it up towards the light. If you can’t see all the way through the pipe, it has a blockage which will need to be removed. We have found a long bamboo cane can be useful for pushing the offending object from the pipe.

Blocked Standpipe

If it’s not the drain hose that’s blocked, it is probably the standpipe. The standpipe is the hard plastic pipe which is attached to the wall that the drain pipe is pushed into. The easiest way to check the standpipe is with your mobile phone.

Just position your phone over the standpipe and take a few photos. If the water at the bottom of the standpipe is clear, then it’s not blocked. If the water is dirty, you’ll need to remove the “S” bend at the base of the standpipe.

Removing The “S” Bend

You will see there are 2 twist connectors, one either side of the “S” bend simply unscrew these with a bucket placed under the “S” bend to catch any water. The “S” bend can now be removed and inspected and cleaned out as necessary.

Drain Hose Pushed Too Far Into The Standpipe

If the drain hose is pushed too far into the standpipe, it won’t drain correctly. The drain hose should not be pushed into the standpipe for more than 6 inches (15cm).

Drain Hose Incorrectly Fitted Under The Sink

In some cases, there is no standpipe and the waste pipe under the sink is used to fit the drain hose from the washing machine. This is OK as long as the drain hose has an upward slope of at least 5 inches (12cm) this will prevent any waste water from the sink rising into the washing machine via the drain hose.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there water sitting in my washing machine?

If there is water sitting in your washing machine when the machine is not in operation it could be any number of things but the most common are; the inlet valve is faulty, or the drain hose is blocked.

Can a washing machine leak water when not in use?

A washing machine can leak water when not in use if the inlet valve becomes faulty in some way. Manufacturers recommend switching the water supply to the machine off when the machine is not in use.

How do you manually drain a washing machine?

To manually drain a washing machine you will need to open the pump filter slowly and allow any water to flow into a bowl positioned underneath the filter. When the bowl is full, close the filter, empty the bowl and repeat until the machine is empty.

How do I know if my washing machine drain hose is clogged?

You will know your washing machine’s drain hose is clogged because there will be dirty water in the drum of your machine when the program has finished.

Should there be standing water in the washer?

There should not be standing water in the washer, if there is it usually indicates either the inlet valve is faulty or there is an issue with the drain hose. If the water is clean, it is likely to be a problem with the inlet valve. If the water is dirty it’s likely to be a problem with the drain hose.

Should there be water in the washing machine when not in use?

Once the washing machine has finished its cycle, there should be no water left inside at all. If there is, it’s probably caused by a faulty water valve.

Why is there dirty water in the washing machine drum after the machine has finished?

If there is dirty water left inside the machine when it has finished its cycle, the most likely cause is the drain hose has a blockage.

We Hope This Helped

If it did please leave a comment below letting others know your experience!

If you’re still not sure why your washing machine has water in the drum, to read more.

More Information

We would all be lost without water, but when it’s in the wrong place at the wrong time, it’s a real problem. Finding water in the washing machine drum is worrying and quite disconcerting too. This problem can present itself in many ways and at different times, but however it presents itself, it’s never a good thing.

Thankfully although it looks serious, there’s usually a quick, easy solution for this problem. Read on and we’ll show why water remains in the drum or fills up the drum when the machine is not in use.

Please note: Never tackle any electrical problems unless you are confident in maintaining your own personal safety and you fully understand what you are doing.

Blockage In The Drain

There is a drain inside the washing machine that drains water from the drum. Sometimes small items of clothing can get lodged into the drain and cause a blockage. These small items can slip between the inner and outer tub. By removing the filter it is usually possible to see and remove any small items that might be causing a blockage.

To prevent this from recurring, use a mesh bag for smaller items of clothing like; underwear, socks and hankies. This will prevent them from slipping through the system and getting caught in the drain again.

Faulty Water Valve

Once the machine has finished its cycle the water valve should remain closed and shouldn’t allow any water into the machine. If the valve has developed a small fault, it might not fully close which will allow some water to pass into the machine. Without the drain pump running, that water has nowhere to go so it sits in the drum.

The valve could have developed a fault like the return spring has weakened, or there might be a calcium build-up inside the valve preventing the valve from operating correctly. If the water valve is faulty your best course of action is to call a repairman in, after turning the water supply to the machine off.

The Water Pressure Could Be Too Low

If the water pressure is too low, it can affect the water valve. This is because the water valve relies on a certain amount of water pressure to press the rubber flange shut. If the pressure is too low, water can seep through the flange and fill the drum. To see if a faulty water valve is the problem, turn off the supply tap(s) to the washing machine.

Be sure the tap(s) are fully off by disconnecting the hoses from the machine and checking there is no water flow. If, with the supply shut off, the water is still finding its way into the drum, it’s not due to a faulty water valve.

Water Hose Filter Blockage

If there is a build-up of calcium in the filter for the water inlet hose. It can cause low water pressure which as stated above can affect the water valve.

Water Entering Through The Drain Hose

This is caused by the drain hose being fitted incorrectly. There are 2 types of drain hose connections, if yours is connected under the sink and into a U-bend, it could flow back into the machine if it hasn’t been installed correctly. Call a plumber to remedy this.

If the drain hose goes into a standpipe, you shouldn’t get this problem at all. Because the drain hose will be positioned high enough from the drain to prevent any flowback. However, if the drain hose is too high, dirty water can run back into the machine.

Clogged Drain Hose

If the drain hose is partially clogged it can cause water to remain in the drum and not drain away completely. Refer to your users manual to locate the drain hose and how to clear any blockage.

Pump Clogged

If the washing machine pump is blocked this could cause the machine to hold on to water. To check this, remove the filter from the bottom front of the machine and check for any foreign bodies that could be causing a blockage. Whilst in there, check that the impeller is rotating freely too.

Damaged Water Pump

If the water pump is damaged it could cause water to not drain away and consequently build up in the drum. If this is the problem it’s time to call in an engineer.

Water Pressure Switch Fault

This is extremely rare but not beyond the realms of possibility. The way a washing machine determines how much water is needed to fill it up is via the water pressure switch. This is located inside the top of the machine.

It works by detecting the air pressure in the machine, as the machine fills with water, the air pressure changes and indicates when the correct level has been reached. If this pressure switch develops a fault, it is possible for the machine to constantly fill with water. Get an engineer to replace the pressure switch and your machine should work correctly again.

Wrong Wash Cycle Selected

It’s possible to get distracted when you have so many household chores to do. If you select the wash only cycle or the no-spin or no-drain cycle, your machine will be full of water. The simple fix here is to select the drain and spin cycle.

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