Why is my washing machine not draining?

Image of clothes sitting in water soaking

There are two main reasons why a washing machine is not draining. The first thing we typically ask customers is if the water is leaking out of the wall when it tries to drain or does the water not drain out of the washing machine itself?

Scenario #1: Water not draining out of washer at all:

If you open the washing machine after you’ve assumed it has finished running and water is still in the drum, there is probably a problem with the washer itself and you need to contact an authorized appliance repair company.


Scenario #2: Water is draining out of the washing machine but not out of the washing machine box drain itself:

If water is draining out of the washing machine but backing up at the drain, then you have a problem with the drain line, not the washing machine. If it is the drain backing up, we recommend you call a drain cleaning professional to get the drain cleared.

One of the most common problems we see with washing machines backing up is in association with upgrading a washing machine connected to a washing machine box that is from the 1960s. Washing machines must connect to a 2″ standpipe, trap and drain by code.  However, a lot of older homes here in Albuquerque use 1 1/2″ standpipes and traps on a 2″ drain. This can cause problems if the smaller trap gets even slightly restricted.

What’s the most common cause of a washing machine back up?

The most common cause for the drain to back up is grease and soap scum from the connection of the laundry to the kitchen drain line. The kitchen and laundry typically connect to a common drain before entering the home’s main drain line. Because of this, anything that is put down the kitchen sink such as grease, fat oils, or any other drain clogging debris can cause the washing machine to have drain issues. This can be prevented by periodic maintenance. Most people don’t perform maintenance on their drains until they experience a backup. We encourage people to do maintenance to avoid these types of situations. Having your kitchen sink and washing machine drain line cleaned once a year will help prevent unpleasant issues. Bacterial enzymes can also aid in breaking down of fat oils and grease inside the kitchen drain, as well as prevent backups in all areas throughout the home.