What Causes My Washing Machine To Fill And Drain At The Same Time? (and what to do)

If your washing machine starts to fill with water at the start of the cycle but then all of the water drains away and this process keeps happening, you have a problem. This action does have a few possible causes all of which we’ll get into in this article.

The problem could be caused by water syphoning away due to a plumbing issue, or it could be attempting to abort the cycle due to an internal fault having been detected. Before you can solve this issue, you need to understand exactly what’s causing your washer to fill and drain in a repetitive cycle.

Keep reading to find out what’s causing the continuous fill and drain action on your washer as well as the best ways to solve this issue.

Why Is The Water Leaving The Washer?

The first thing you need to establish is what’s causing the water to leave the washer. Is it simply draining out or is it being forced out by the pump?

Possible CauseSolution
Cycle AbortedInvestigate the drain pump 
The Washer Overheating Check the thermistor and replace if necessary
Defective Drain PumpCheck the drain pump and repair/replace as necessary
SyphoningCheck the positioning of the drain hose in the standpipe or under sink waste pipe
Faulty Pressure SwitchInvestigate and clean or replace the pressure switch as necessary
Defective Water Inlet ValveCheck and replace the inlet valve as necessary

Let’s take a closer look at these issues;

The Washer Could Be Aborting The Wash

laundry room with pile of clothes

Take the time to listen to your washing machine, can you hear the drain pump? If you can then the water is being pumped out as fast as it can be drawn into the drum.

The sound should be the same as when the water is pumped out at the end of the rinse cycle just before the spin cycle starts.

The Washer Might Be Overheating 

Your washing machine has sensors to detect pretty much everything needed to successfully operate all of the wash cycles offered on your appliance. If the sensor detects that the water is too hot for the cycle that’s been selected, it will pump out some of the hot water. 

Whilst simultaneously drawing in cold water in an attempt to adjust the water temperature to the correct level. However, if this is the case, it should display an error code either on the display screen or by issuing a series of flashing lights.

If your washer is overheating the filling and emptying should be happening during the wash cycle. It should also start after around 25 to 30 minutes into the wash cycle.

Try carefully touching the door glass and feeling how hot it is. This shouldn’t last too long. Once it has successfully cooled the water sufficiently, the cycle should abort and the washer should display an error code.

This fault is often caused by a defective thermistor or thermostat. You can check the status of the thermistor yourself, but as it involves dismantling the appliance, I recommend contacting an engineer to investigate for you.

The Pump Could Be Defective

If the pump is running constantly from the minute the washer is turned on, it is probably faulty. Or there is a problem with the insulation somewhere within the washer.

Either way, this is another task best left to an engineer to investigate for you.

The Water Is Being Syphoned Out Of The Washer

washing machine drain hose

If the water is running out of the washer but the pump isn’t working, then it must be syphoning out. As the water starts to fill in the machine it flows away through the drain hose.

The machine will detect there’s not enough water in the drum and keep adding more. However, your washer should soon realise that there’s a problem and abort the cycle and display an error code.

If it doesn’t abort, the filling and draining could go on indefinitely. The reason a washer starts to syphon is almost always caused by a poorly positioned drain hose.

What Causes A Washing Machine To Syphon?

Your washer will drain if the drain hose is positioned lower than the level of the water inside the drum of the machine. There are two ways of connecting a washing machine drain hose to the home’s waste pipes which are;

  1. Via a standpipe
  2. Via a waste pipe under the sink

The drain hose should be bent in an arc above the top of the machine and then pushed into the standpipe but no deeper than 6 inches (15 cm) into the standpipe. 

Any lower than 6 inches and the water from the machine could start to syphon out.

Under Sink Waste Pipe

If the drain hose is connected to the sink’s waste pipe and the drain hose isn’t positioned higher than the drum of the washer, it could syphon water from the washer.

If your washer has recently been moved either for the purposes of cleaning or if you recently moved into a new home, the drain hose could become incorrectly fitted leading to syphoning.

It’s possible that either the drain hose has been pushed too far into the standpipe or the drain hose crook has become dislodged from the wall and is allowing the drain hose to sit too low.

This can lead to a situation where the washer is constantly filling as it detects that it needs more water before the wash cycle can commence. As the water level continues to rise, the syphon effect continues to drain and the washer is locked in a continuous circle of filling and draining.

Faulty Pressure Switch

person changing the program on washing machine

The pressure switch works by detecting the air pressure in a thin tube connected to the base of the drum via a chamber. As the water fills the drum, the air pressure in the chamber and then in the tube changes and eventually forces the switch to shut.

This stops the water from flowing and the wash cycle can commence. In some cases, the tube or chamber connected to the pressure switch can become clogged with detergent or debris.

This leads to the incorrect message getting sent to the control board which results in water filling and draining at the same time. If you suspect the pressure switch could be the cause of the problem, it will need to be checked.

As this involves dismantling parts of the appliance, I recommend getting an engineer to do this for you.

Defective Water Inlet Valve

The water inlet valve is a vital part of your washing machine. It allows water to enter the appliance after getting instructions from the control board.

As soon as sufficient water is detected in the drum, the control board signals the inlet valve to close, effectively shutting off the water supply. If the inlet valve develops a fault, it will not shut off.

This allows water to continuously flow into the drum which needs to be drained away to prevent your washer from leaking and causing a flood. This is another part best left to an engineer to investigate and replace if necessary.

SEE ALSO: Do You Need To Elevate A Washing Machine Drain Hose?

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my washing machine keep filling and draining?

If your washing machine keeps filling and draining, it could be because; the washer has overheated, the drain pump is faulty, the washer is syphoning due to an incorrectly positioned drain hose, the pressure switch is faulty or the water inlet valve is defective.

Why is my washing machine filling and draining but not washing?

If your washing machine is filling and draining but not washing your laundry it could be because the drive belt is loose or damaged or there is a problem with the washer’s motor.

Why does my washing machine keep adding extra time?

If your washing machine keeps adding extra time it could be due to insufficient water detected in the drum. This could be caused by something as simple as the inlet tap needs to be opened fully.

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