Why Is My Washing Machine Leaking? Causes and Fixes

A leaking washing machine can be a real headache. Water all over the floor, having to constantly mop it up, potential damage to flooring – it’s certainly an annoyance and inconvenience you want resolved as soon as possible. But what are the common causes of a leaking washing machine and how can you fix them? We’ll cover the likely culprits and solutions so you can diagnose the issue and stop the leak.

Common Causes of a Leaking Washing Machine

There are a few usual suspects when it comes to washing machine leaks. Here are some of the most common causes:

Faulty water inlet hoses

The hoses that supply hot and cold water to the washing machine can become loose, crack, or rupture over time. This can cause water to leak out of the hose connections. Damaged or faulty inlet hoses are one of the top reasons washing machines leak.

Fix: Inspect inlet hoses for any visible damage. Tighten any loose hose connections with pliers. If hoses are cracked or bulging, replace them – don’t try to patch them up. Use stainless steel braided hoses rather than rubber ones, as they are more durable. Make sure there are no kinks or tight bends in the hoses.

Door seal failure

The rubber door seal keeps water contained in the drum during the wash cycle. But seals can wear out or become displaced. When the seal is damaged or not sitting right, water can leak through the door.

Fix: Check the door seal for any cracks, tears or deformation. Make sure the seal is seated evenly all the way around the door opening. You may be able to stretch the seal back into shape. Otherwise, replace the door seal if it is damaged. Clean the seal regularly to prevent buildup of dirt and soap residue.

Drain/waste pipe issues

Leaks may come from the drain hose, standpipe, or waste pipe that removes water from the washing machine. A loose fitting, cracked component, blockage, or improper installation can lead to water spilling out of the drain system.

Fix: Check all connections on the drain hose and standpipe to make sure they are tight. Make sure the drain hose is securely fastened and not crushed or kinked. Unclog any blockages. Ensure the standpipe and waste pipe meet height requirements. You may need to contact a plumber to inspect waste pipe leaks or improper installation.

Water pump failure

The water pump pushes water through the washing machine during the wash and rinse cycles. A malfunctioning or broken pump may leak water. Signs include a loud or unusual noise during pump operation.

Fix: If the pump is making odd noises and leaking, replace it. Check hoses and connections to the pump when replacing to make sure they aren’t cracked. Make sure there are no objects stuck in the pump.


An oversudsing of soap, overloading the machine, or unbalanced clothes can cause water to overflow and leak through the detergent dispenser or front door.

Fix: Use less detergent and run an empty “rinse and spin” cycle to clear excess suds. Do not overload the drum – leave space for clothes to move freely. Redistribute clothes evenly before starting a cycle.

Clogged or disconnected drain line

When the drain line that removes water from the washing machine tub becomes clogged or disconnected, water can back up and leak out.

Fix: Disconnect drain line from back of machine and inspect for blockages. Clear out any debris clogging the drain hose. Reconnect securely to washing machine waste outlet. Make sure drain line is not kinked or restricted.

Leaking water supply valve

The hot and cold water valves feeding the washing machine can develop leaks due to mineral buildup and wear over time. Signs include dampness around the valves and dripping.

Fix: Tighten any leaky connections with pliers. Replace worn or damaged water supply valves. Make sure supply lines are properly connected to valves without kinks or stress.

Rust inside drum

The constant presence of water inside the washing machine drum can cause rust to develop, especially along seams. Rust spots and pitting create small holes that water seeps through during the wash cycle.

Fix: Apply rust remover and/or naval jelly to affected areas in the drum to remove rust and pits. Sand any remaining rust spots smooth. Seal drum seams and holes with waterproof epoxy resin filler designed for washing machine repair.

Leaking tub seal

Where the outer tub meets the rotating drum, there is a tub seal that keeps water from escaping. When this seal fails due to normal wear and tear, water will leak out from around the drum.

Fix: Replacing the tub seal involves a major disassembly of the washer. Call a professional appliance repair technician to inspect the tub seal and carry out the repair.

Damaged or worn bearings/seals

The bearings allow the inner drum to spin smoothly. Worn or damaged bearings can also cause water to leak through the seals onto the floor.

Fix: Have an appliance repair technician inspect the bearings and seals. They may need to be replaced, which requires special tools and skills. Attempting a DIY bearing or seal replacement is very difficult.

When to Call an Appliance Repair Technician

While you may be able to fix straightforward issues like leaking hoses yourself, more complex repairs involving components like bearings, seals and internal mechanisms are best left to the professionals.

Call an appliance repair technician for:

  • Leaking coming from underneath or back of machine
  • Leaks originating from internal components like pump, tub, drum, etc.
  • Electrical issues or not turning on at all
  • Loud, unusual noises indicating internal failure
  • If you have inspected obvious parts like hoses and cannot find the leak source
  • If you do not feel comfortable disassembling and repairing the unit yourself

The pros have specialized tools, extensive knowledge and experience, and are trained in safely diagnosing and repairing all washing machine models.

Steps to Diagnose and Isolate the Leak

Figuring out exactly where the water is leaking from is the key first step. Here is how to sleuth out the leak source:

1. Move the washing machine

Gently pull the washer out from the wall so you can access the back and inspect all sides. Look for puddles or dripping water on the floor. As you move it, more water may leak out and reveal the source.

2. Check inlet hoses

Examine the hot and cold inlet hoses at the rear where they connect to the washer and wall. Look for cracks, dampness or signs of leaking. Tighten fittings and replace any damaged hoses.

3. Inspect door seal

Run your finger along the rubber door seal all the way around the opening. Look for signs of cracking, splitting, or gaps where water could escape. Check if the seal is evenly seated in the channel.

4. Test inlet valve ports

Remove the hoses from inlet valves one at a time. Turn on water to check for leaks at the valve ports themselves where the hoses connect.

5. Check for overflow

Make sure the washer drum isn’t overloaded and detergent isn’t over-sudsing, causing water to overflow the tub. Run a rinse cycle empty.

6. Examine drain system

Disconnect drain hose from the washer and inspect for clogs or damage. Check for leaks where it connects to standpipe and wall. Ensure connections are tight.

7. Assess internal components

If you cannot find the leak source externally, it may be coming from failed internal components like the pump, tub, drum, bearings or tub seal. You will most likely need a professional diagnostic.

How to Prevent Future Leaks

Once you’ve fixed your leaking washing machine, take these proactive steps to help prevent leaks recurring in the future:

  • Use less detergent – Excess soap leads to oversudsing and water overflow. Use 1-2 tablespoons of HE detergent for standard loads.
  • Leave space in drum – Overloading causes overflowing and puts strain on components. Leave room for clothes to move freely.
  • Inspect hoses regularly – Check inlet and drain hoses for cracks and ensure connections are tight. Replace worn hoses.
  • Clean door seal – Remove lint and residue from seal regularly to prevent mold/mildew buildup.
  • Use gentle cycles – Rough high-speed spins can damage seals and bearings over time. Opt for slower, gentler cycles.
  • Level the machine – Improper leveling causes vibration which leads to leaks. Use a bubble level to properly level the unit.
  • Listen for noises – Unusual sounds can indicate problems with pump, motor or bearings before leaks occur.
  • DIY preventive maintenance – Perform tasks like cleaning the pump filter to improve lifespan and prevent leaks.

FAQ About Leaking Washing Machines

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about washing machine leaks:

What are the most common causes of a leaking washing machine?

The most common causes of leaks are worn or damaged inlet hoses, a faulty door seal, drain line issues, a malfunctioning water pump, and overflowing from too much detergent or an unbalanced load.

Where should I check first to find the leak?

Start by pulling the washer out and inspecting the inlet hoses at the rear along with the door seal at the front. Check the drain hose connections next before moving to internal components.

How can I prevent leaks in my washing machine?

Prevent leaks by regularly inspecting hoses for damage, cleaning the door seal of residue, using the proper amount of detergent, leaving space in the drum, leveling the unit properly, and listening for odd noises indicating potential problems.

Should I repair a leaking washing machine myself?

It depends on the leak source. You can likely fix external leaks from hoses, seals and drains yourself. But internal component leaks require a trained appliance repair technician.

When is it time to replace a washing machine rather than repair it?

If the washer is over 10 years old, repairs would be costly, or you’ve had recurring leaks from multiple components, it may be time for a new washing machine rather than sinking more money into repairs.

Does home insurance cover water damage from a leaking washing machine?

It depends on your specific policy. Some insurance covers sudden water damage events like bursting hoses. But gradual leaks or internal malfunctions may not be covered. Check with your insurer.

Why does my washing machine smell musty when leaking?

Standing water from a leak allows mold and mildew to grow, causing a musty odor. Promptly fixing the leak and using bleach to clean the washing machine can eliminate smells.

The Takeaway

While a leaky washing machine is admittedly a headache, identifying the source of the leak is 90% of the repair. Inspect hoses and seals, ensure drain lines are clear, and listen for any odd sounds. Persistent leaks likely mean faulty internal components that require a professional. With some diligent DIY detective work and prompt repairs, you can stop the leak in its tracks and get back to fresh, clean laundry.

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A leaking washing machine can certainly be frustrating and inconvenient to deal with. But armed with an understanding of the most common causes – from worn door seals and hoses to faulty water pumps and overloaded drums – you can hopefully quickly diagnose the issue and determine whether it’s a DIY fix or time to call in a professional.

Preventing leaks comes down to maintenance and care – inspecting seals and hoses, using the right detergent levels, cleaning regularly and listening for concerning noises or changes in operation. While not every leak can be avoided, being proactive and addressing problems promptly can help minimize any potential damage and keep your washer running smoothly for years to come.

Here are some key takeaways when dealing with washing machine leaks:

  • Move the washer and inspect all sides/back to pinpoint the leak source. Look for obvious drips and damp spots.
  • Thoroughly check door seals, hoses and drain lines which are common culprits. Tighten fittings, clear clogs and replace worn parts.
  • Overflowing, pump failures and problems with inner tub components often require professional service.
  • Prevent leaks proactively by using gentle cycles, cleaning seals and filters, limiting detergent, and listening for odd noises.
  • Make repairs quickly to limit water damage which can lead to mold, warping, and rot over time.
  • If your washing machine is aging and repairs are complex, replacement may be more cost-effective than continually fixing leaks.

With attention and care, your washer can enjoy many leak-free years of laundry duty. But at the first sign of trouble, address it promptly and make repairs or seek help so your home stays clean and dry.