Standing water on the laundry room floor or slow-draining water from your washing machine’s waste pipe are telltale signs of a blockage. This clogging results in drain overflow.
When not appropriately maintained, washing machine drains can clog due to the buildup of different materials. Here’s what you can do to unblock a washing machine drain without a hitch.
Causes Of The Blockage
Before exploring different methods of unblocking your washing machine waste pipe, it’s imperative to identify the issue at hand so you can practice the most feasible way. The most common contributors to a clogged drain include lint, dirt, debris, threads, hair, grease or oil, soap scum (soap residue), colonization of bacteria, and foreign objects.
Typically, blockage in a washing machine drain pipe develops over time, slowing the draining process or completely halting it. These materials clump together, forming gunk that slowly gets deposited within the washing machine drain hose and pipe.
Either the wastewater will overflow from the drain or spill water back into the washing machine.
How To Know Your Washing Machine Waste Pipe Is Blocked
1. Locked Washing Machine Door
Water can’t drain out entirely from the machine’s drum when a washing machine drain gets blocked. This partial wastewater drainage can sometimes lock the appliance’s door until the water drains.
If you ever see standing water in the machine’s drum after a wash cycle, the cause is more likely a clogged drain line.
2. Error Message
Most washing machines have built-in systems that alert the user if there’s an issue. In case of a clogged drainpipe, the appliance may turn on but show an error code pointing towards the problem.
You can review the user manual sent from the manufacturer for what each error code corresponds to or call in professionals if you’re unsure how to proceed.
3. Unusual Sounds
The drain pump makes a clear pumping sound whenever a washing machine drains the water. However, if the water flow during the pumping process slows down or the pumping sound changes significantly, there is a high chance of a stuck drain pipe.
4. Poor Performance
When a drain gets blocked, there is little to no drainage through the laundry drain, leaving the wastewater to get stuck in the washing machine drum. The undrained water gets absorbed into the already-washed laundry, soaking the contents.
While slow water flow suggests a clogged drain, water overflowing or leaking from the washing machine indicates a blockage in the drainpipe and hose.
Identifying The Issue
Typically, there are two ways you can determine a clogged drain before you try different drain unclogging methods.
1. Filling The Sink
- Fill up the laundry room sink with water to the brim and let it drain.
- If you notice the drainage speed slowing over time or halting after a while, there’s a strong chance the drain is partially or entirely blocked.
2. Running a Drain Cycle
- Fill your washing machine with water, turn it on, and start the drain cycle.
- Notice how water flows through the drain.
- An instant water spill at the floor drain or where the discharge hose connects with the wall indicates a clog is nearby.
- If the water takes time to overflow, the blockage is possibly down the drain line.
Now that we’ve covered the essentials required to diagnose the issue let’s dig into different methods you can use to unblock a waste pipe.
How To Unblock A Washing Machine Waste Pipe?
1. Using Hot Water
- Take at least a gallon of water and bring it to boiling temperature.
- Unplug your washing machine.
- Secure a funnel over the pipe opening to avoid spillage.
- Slowly pour boiled water into the pipe to unclog the drain.
Don’t forget to wear safety gloves and cover your legs and torso before handling boiling water. For improved results, you can add vinegar and baking soda in equal amounts after pouring the boiling water.
Baking soda and vinegar will wipe off any remaining sludge clumped inside the pipes.
2. Using A Drain Cleaner
Several drain cleaners are available if you don’t want to use boiling water.
- Wear safety gloves and protective eyewear to prevent any adverse reaction or injury.
- Always choose a non-abrasive cleaner for unclogging a washing machine drain.
- Unplug the washing machine.
- Dislodge the drain hose from the pipe. The drain hose is located near the water supply connection.
- Pour the recommended amount of drain cleaner and let it rest.
- Rinse the pipe with hot water for effective results.
3. Snaking The Drain
If you see water flowing instantly out from the drain, it means the clogging is not far down the drain line. Using a drain snake is the best unclogging method here.
- You need to remove the drain hose to perform this technique.
- Place old towels or a bucket to catch the wastewater that will come out when the hose is removed.
- Unplug the washing machine and dislodge the hose from the drainpipe.
- Insert the snake drain opener into the drain until it feels resistant.
- Turn the snake’s handle clockwise to catch the sludge on the spring end.
- Push the snake further down and then pull it up to remove the pipe-blocking material.
- Repeat the process several times until you don’t feel resistance, ensuring an unclogged drain.
- Secure the hose back in place and perform a test run to see whether the drain is working.
4. Using A Power Auger
If you still feel resistance or didn’t find any blockage when inserting the snake, the jam may be further down and require a power auger. While a drain snake is 25 feet long, the drill can extend up to 75 feet.
The power auger blasts through the clogging using a sturdy wire.
- Unplug the appliance and remove the hose, exposing the drainpipe.
- Plug the power auger and start feeding the wire inside the pipe.
- Use the foot pedal controls to control the speed while using your hands to guide the wire into the pipe.
- After several feet, take the foot off the pedal and rotate the wire clockwise.
- Power the wire up again and continue feeding the cable.
- You’ll feel the wire struggling through where there’s a blockage.
- Stop the wire feeding and rotate it anti-clockwise before powering it up again.
- Continue feeding the wire and keep rotating the wire clockwise after a few feet and counterclockwise when you hit a blockage.
- Now slowly pull out the cable from the drainpipe, removing the clogged material.
- Pour hot water to remove any leftover dirt or debris.
- Run a test drain cycle on the washing machine to ensure the drain’s functionality.
5. Checking The Pump
Sometimes an everyday object like a coin can halt the drainage. A coin or a similar object can block the water pump, inhibiting it from working correctly.
Here’s what you need to check.
- Locate the access cap on the back of your washing machine.
- Place a bucket under to catch any water spill when removing the cap.
- Unscrew the cap, and you’ll see the pump’s impeller.
- Make sure you’re wearing safety gloves before proceeding further.
- Using your hand, check whether the impeller can rotate easily.
- Look for openings near the impeller and unblock them carefully using your fingers.
- If the machine has a filter attached to the access cap, remove the material buildup inside the filter.
- Wipe the inside with a clean cloth to remove any dirt or debris buildup.
- Secure the access cap firmly in place, and screw the threads adequately while avoiding cross-threading.
6. Maintaining Your Washing Machine
The most common reason for material buildup inside pipes is poor washing machine and drain pipe maintenance.
Over time, dirt, debris, lint, grease, and several other materials collect within the washing machine’s drainage system, slowing down or inhibiting the wastewater-draining process.
Besides using the methods shared here, cleaning the washing machine thoroughly every 3 months is favorable. Use the following steps to clean the washing machine completely.
- Turn on your washing machine and set the wash program to a hot water wash.
- Add laundry detergent to the washing machine and let the wash cycle run.
- This aids in killing mold and bacteria and removing fat deposits within the washing machine drum and the standpipe.
- You can also use a descaler for added cleaning.
Preventative maintenance can save you money and the hassle of repairing the washing machine. Using a liquid drain cleaner is another feasible option, preventing clogging from occurring in the first place.
Getting Professional Assistance
If you’ve tried the methods we shared and still have no luck, the following issues may be the reason:
- The main drainage line is blocked.
- The blockage is far down the drain and will require professional tools.
- The drain is damaged or has worn out in certain areas.
- There’s a plumbing issue with the premises resulting in poor drainage.
Sometimes, there are several issues that require you to call in professional plumbing services. These professionals have the right tools and equipment to identify and resolve the issue within no time.
Please make it a priority to fix the clogged drain, as leaving it unattended may lead to problems in your plumbing system and even cause significant structural damage to the property.