How To Fix a Washing Machine Drain Overflow (In 6 Steps) - Today's Homeowner (2023)

When your washing machine finishes each wash cycle, the water from the drum drains out and usually gets dumped into a nearby drain line — called a standpipe — that runs to your main sewer line. Unfortunately, any issue with the drainage process can cause an overflow of the drain, resulting in water leaking out all over your floor and a handful of other potentially expensive problems, like a ruined floor, mold growth, and damaged sheetrock and insulation.

This guide will teach you how to fix a washing machine drain overflow and prevent recurring issues. We’ll also provide tips on determining if you need a professional’s help or can handle the washing machine repair yourself.

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(Video) Solution to an Overflowing Washing Machine Drain

How Do You Fix a Washing Machine Drain Overflow?

Fixing a washer drain overflow problem depends on the underlying issue. You could have problems with the drain hose, which directs water from the washing machine into your fixed plumbing pipes, a clog, or a drain line that’s too small for your particular washing machine.

We recommend walking through the steps below to cover all the bases and ensure your problem is fixed for good.

  • Step 1 — Inspect the area behind your washing machine. Before moving your washing machine, we recommend a quick visual check behind it to assess any problems. Look for kinks in the washing machine hose, and check to see if the hose has been pulled out of the drain pipe. These could be your underlying problems, and identifying them before you move anything can save you some time. If you notice one of these issues, unkink or reinsert the hose into the drain pipe, and then skip to step seven to test the solution.
  • Step 2 — Pull the washing machine away from the wall: If you didn’t notice any glaring issues upon a visual inspection, pull the washing machine away from the wall to give yourself space to work. You might want to turn off the water supply to the machine and disconnect it from power to be safe.
How To Fix a Washing Machine Drain Overflow (In 6 Steps) - Today's Homeowner (1)
  • Step 3 — Prepare the area: Since you will be working with a hose and drain pipe that could have water inside, we recommend you get some old towels and lay them down on the floor and any sheetrock behind the machine for protection.
  • Step 4 — Fix any issues with the washing machine drain hose: If you’ve discovered problems with the hose that weren’t evident before you moved the machine, fix them now. This can include kinks or cracks in the hose that weren’t visible. You might need to replace the hose entirely, depending on the extent of the damage.
How To Fix a Washing Machine Drain Overflow (In 6 Steps) - Today's Homeowner (2)
  • Step 5 — Clear any clogs: If you don’t notice any problems with the hose, your problem could be a clog in the hose or the drain line into which the hose drains. You can inspect both to see if there’s a visible clog, but you’ll more likely need to use a plumber’s drain snake to unclog them and clear out any lint that might be caught in there. Use the auger or snake on both the hose and the fixed drain line.
  • Step 6 — Place the drain hose back into the washing machine drain pipe and run a test cycle: Finally, put everything back how you found it and run a test cycle to see if the problem is fixed. Make sure not to kink the hose when you move the washing machine back, and make sure the hose is inserted as far as possible into the drain line. If the issue persists, the drain line that leads to your main drain line might not be large enough, or you might have more serious problems. In either case, we recommend calling a plumber for help.
How To Fix a Washing Machine Drain Overflow (In 6 Steps) - Today's Homeowner (3)

You can also check out the short video below for a visual guide on clearing washing machine hose clogs:

Why Is My Washing Machine Draining Correctly but Still Overflowing Occasionally?

If you find that your washing machine appears to be draining properly for the most part but still runs into overflow issues now and then, there are a few possible causes.

Overfilled Machine

The most common causes of intermittent drainage issues are overfilling the washer with too much laundry or using too much detergent. In the case of too much laundry, the greater volume of water required to wash it can more easily overwhelm the drain pipe, resulting in an overflow. This is most common in newer washing machine models with sensors to determine how much water is required for the clothes loaded inside.

Too much detergent can promote clogging and slow water movement through the hose and drain line, promoting overflow. You’ll also accelerate the accumulation of soap residue or soap scum in the PVC pipe, which can promote clogs and lead to water overflowing.

Incorrect Washer Setting

Another less common problem homeowners encounter is running their washing machine on the wrong setting. If, for example, you have a load of delicates and use hot water instead of cold water or a spin cycle setting that’s too intense, the clothes will wear more quickly. That can lead to increased lint production and even bits of clothing being torn off, promoting clogs and overflow problems.

(Video) Washing Machine not Draining Water - Fixed

Similarly, if you use a light wash setting but add a lot of detergent, there may not be enough water to thin out the detergent. As a result, you might end up with an increased risk of clogs. Using a heavy load setting for a small load could mean water exits your machine too quickly for the drain pipe to handle.

Plumbing Problems

Unfortunately, the issue can be with your actual fixed plumbing equipment. You can assess drainage from your machine by routing the flexible drainage pipe from your washer into a laundry sink. If the water flow is normal — usually between 3 and 5 gallons of water per minute — then the problem is most likely with your plumbing, and you’ll need a plumber’s help if snaking the line doesn’t help.

If you have persistent problems that you believe stem from the machine itself rather than a plumbing issue, we recommend you call the manufacturer or a service technician to see if they can offer a resolution.

How Do You Prevent a Washing Machine Drain Overflow?

Fixing a washing machine drainage problem is usually quick and painless, but preventing it from occurring — and causing damage in your home — is a much better and more permanent option. There are a few preventive measures you can take to avoid overflow problems, some of which can also extend the life of your washing machine:

  • Install a lint trap: One of the easiest and fastest ways to prevent overflow issues is to install an external lint trap. These mesh screens fit over the end of the washing machine hose. Water can flow through the holes in the mesh, but lint and other debris will get trapped in the filter and be prevented from clogging the drain pipe. Just remember to empty and clean the filter about once per month to prevent it from clogging and causing more overflow issues.
How To Fix a Washing Machine Drain Overflow (In 6 Steps) - Today's Homeowner (4)
  • Use a garment bag whenever possible: When it’s appropriate, using a garment bag or lint bag for your laundry is a great way to keep lint and anything in your pockets from clogging your hose or drain pipe and causing an overflow.
  • Clean the internal lint filter regularly: If your washing machine has an internal lint filter, make sure you clean that at least once every few months. A clogged filter can release material into your hose and drain line over time and cause more serious blockages and leaks.
  • Keep your washer away from the wall: Make sure that your washing machine is at least six inches away from any walls in your laundry room. Pushing the machine too close to the wall can crush, crack, or kink the hose, which will quickly lead to drainage problems.
  • Check and clear the hose and drainpipe regularly: Lint and other debris you accidentally put through the wash can build up in your hose and drain line, even if you have lint filters installed. We recommend snaking both once every three months or so to ensure they stay clear. You can also use a non-abrasive drain cleaner or drain enzymes to clear debris out of the plumbing system, or you can add some baking soda and boiling water to the drain line and let it sit for a few hours before running the washer.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

To simplify your job, you can use a shop vac to remove any debris in the washing machine hose or drain line. Just make sure you only use a wet/dry shop vac, and be sure that the vacuum hose doesn’t seal against the inside walls of the hose or drain line, as this can cause damage once suction is created.

  • Change the size of your drain pipe: In many cases, homeowners have problems with their drain lines because the pipe itself is too thin to handle the amount of water draining at once from the tub or drum inside. This issue is more common in older homes, as newer washing machines have higher capacities and faster draining times that older, narrower pipes can sometimes struggle to keep up with. You might need a plumber to install a wider drain line to prevent overflow issues in the future.
  • Switch to a front-loading washer: Front-load washing machines use less water than top-load machines for two reasons. First, top-load washers hold more clothes and naturally need more water. Second, the tub or drum on a front-load washer doesn’t need to fill as much to cover the laundry inside. If your overflow issue results from your drain pipe diameter being too small, swapping to a front-load washer could be an alternative solution to replacing the drain line.

DIY vs. Professional: Do I Need a Professional To Fix My Overflowing Washing Machine?

Assessing why your washing machine leaks during the drain cycle is usually straightforward, but the solution could demand help from a professional. Moreover, opening your discharge hose and drain pipe for snaking can be messy and dirty, not to mention it can put your flooring and other building material at risk of water damage if you’re not careful. Contacting a plumber is a good option if you’re concerned about that risk or don’t want to deal with wastewater.

If you’ve followed the steps above and still don’t know why you’re having a drainage problem, chances are there is a more serious underlying problem. If that’s the case, we recommend calling in a professional plumber. For example, we recommend contacting a licensed plumber if you believe your underlying problem is that your drain pipe is too narrow. This usually requires removing the drain line and replacing it with a wider one.

While the actual work to do this is simple enough for a DIY fix, the eventual reduction you’ll likely need to make to tie the new line into your existing system can cause serious issues if it’s not done properly. Any turns the pipes need to make must also be done at the right angle to control the water flow through the system. If you make a mistake, you could be looking at more severe sewer clogs that occur deeper into the drainage system — and demand more complex and expensive fixes.

(Video) How To Change A Washing Machine Drain Hose (EASY!)

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Final Tips for Fixing a Washing Machine Drain Overflow

Washing machine overflow problems can be a nuisance at best, but at worst, they can cause severe property damage and lead to costly repairs. Knowing how to assess and fix the problem helps avoid those damages and expenses.

In most cases, washers overflow because of lint clogs. This can usually be prevented by snaking the machine hose and drain line once every few months or by installing a lint catcher on the hose and cleaning it out monthly to avoid buildup. Some homeowners find that the overflow is caused by a damaged hose, which is usually fixable by repairing the damage and ensuring there’s at least a 6-inch gap between the machine and the wall behind it.

Another common cause of washer overflow is your drain pipe getting overwhelmed by the amount of water draining from your washer. The easiest solutions include switching to a front-load washer or doing smaller loads with less water. A more permanent solution would be to call a plumber to upsize your drain line. This should help avoid all overflow issues in the future. Any additional problems might require a professional plumber or a service tech for your machine.

(Video) How To Install a Washing Machine Drain Stand Pipe - 2" Trap & Stand Pipe Height

How To Fix a Washing Machine Drain Overflow (In 6 Steps) - Today's Homeowner (5)

Dan Simms


Dan Simms worked in real estate management for five years before using his experience to help property owners maintain their own homes. He got his master’s degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, and he now enjoys sharing his knowledge about homeownership and DIY projects with others on Today’s Homeowner. When he’s not writing, he’s usually outdoors with his wife and his dog, enjoying mountain biking, skiing, and hiking.

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How To Fix a Washing Machine Drain Overflow (In 6 Steps) - Today's Homeowner (6)

Roxanne Downer


(Video) Washer Repair: How to Unclog the Drain Hose

Roxanne Downer is a commerce editor at Today’s Homeowner, where she tackles everything from foundation repair to solar panel installation. She brings more than 15 years of writing and editing experience to bear in her meticulous approach to ensuring accurate, up-to-date, and engaging content. She’s previously edited for outlets including MSN, Architectural Digest, and Better Homes & Gardens. An alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, Roxanne is now an Oklahoma homeowner, DIY enthusiast, and the proud parent of a playful pug.

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How do you fix an overflowing washing machine drain? ›

How to Operate a Drain Snake
  1. Push its end into the drain opening and turn the handle on the drum to release it into the pipe.
  2. Keep pushing the head of the snake deeper into the pipe until you feel resistance.
  3. Rotate the snake clockwise or counterclockwise until you feel the clog break free.
Dec 12, 2022

Why is my washing machine drain pipe overflowing? ›

Washing machines overflow for a variety of reasons—the leading culprit, though, is a clog in the drain pipe. Lint and other debris come off of clothing during the wash cycle and are drained from the unit alongside the dirty water, potentially leading to clogs that can wreak havoc on your drain pipe.

How do you unclog a main drain line? ›

First, you can run hot water down the drain for 5 to 10 minutes to see if that helps break up the clog. If it doesn't, pour equal parts of vinegar and baking soda into a bowl and then pour that mixture down the drain. Let it sit for 15 minutes, and then run hot water down the drain.

How do I know if my washing machine has a clogged pipe? ›

If the machine turns on and you hear the sound of the water pump, but no actual water appears, then you most likely have a clogged drain hose. The hose can be removed from the back of the machine and be checked for any dirt or dust that may have created a blockage.

Will vinegar unclog a washing machine drain? ›

Vinegar and Hot Water Solution

This is a cheap method of cleaning drain pipes and to do it, you have to mix 1 cup of vinegar and 2 cups of water. Boil this solution for around 10 minutes and then pour it into your drain pipe. For the vinegar, you can use either cane vinegar, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.

How much does it cost to unclog a washing machine drain? ›

How much would a plumber charge to snake a drain? On average, expect to pay between $125 and $250 to hire a professional plumber to clear clogs in the bathroom, shower, or bathroom. For more difficult clogs in toilets and by the laundry line, expect to pay between $225 to $300.

What happens if washing machine drain is clogged? ›

A clogged drain causes water to back up into the standpipe and spill on the floor. Clearing the clogged drain will usually resolve the problem. The washing machine drain hose goes down about two feet into the plumbing drain standpipe.

Can baking soda unclog a washing machine drain? ›

For Minor Clogs

Now if hot water won't solve the problem, you may also use the popular duo, baking soda and vinegar. Pour a box of baking soda into the washing machine drain pipe. After that, follow through with 2 to 3 cups of vinegar. Plug the drain pipe immediately and let the fizzing reaction take place.

How do you unclog a main line drain without calling a plumber? ›

How to Unclog a Main Sewer Line Without Calling a Plumber
  1. Stop Using Water. ...
  2. Clear the Clog with a Plunger. ...
  3. Find the Sewer Cleanout Line. ...
  4. Unclog the Main Sewer with a Plumbing Snake. ...
  5. Clear the Sewer Line with High-Pressure Water.
Mar 2, 2022

How do I know if my main line is clogged? ›

Here are a few signs that it's your main line that's clogged.
  • Multiple slow-running drains. If more than one drain is running slow, it's probably not a coincidence, but an indication that one clog is causing issues for all of them. ...
  • Water backing up into other drains. ...
  • Gurgling sounds. ...
  • Sewage odors coming from the drains.

How do you unclog a drain without taking it apart? ›

Using a solution of baking soda, vinegar, and hot water

For more stubborn clogs, a combination of baking soda, vinegar, and hot water may do the trick. Because vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base, mixing the two will cause a chemical reaction that will create pressure and possibly dislodge the clog.

What is the strongest drain Unclogger? ›

Experts agree: Drano Max Gel is the best overall drain cleaner because it works quickly to get rid of tough clogs. This reliable and effective cleaner is a thick gel that goes deep in sinks, pipes, and drains to reach the source of the clog and completely dissolve it.

What chemical do plumbers use to unclog drains? ›

Hydrochloric acid, also known as muriatic acid, is the most common acid used by plumbers to unclog drains. Although this component can be found even in your own stomach, as part of the digestive acids, its pure concentrated form can only be purchased from certain stores if you carry a plumber's license.

Why wont my washing machine drain pipe drain? ›

The most probable cause is a clogged pump filter. The pump filter should be cleaned every three months or when it's clogged. This filter is installed to catch foreign objects like buttons or coins, and to prevent these items from entering the drain hose.

How long does vinegar take to unclog a drain? ›

This can help prevent clog-causing buildup on the interior surface of pipes. Or you can pour one cup of vinegar down the drain and let it sit for 30 minutes, followed by a rinse with two quarts of very hot water.

Will baking soda and bleach unclog a drain? ›

Although you can use 1/5 to 3/4 of a cup of bleach to clean and deodorize drains, followed by a good flushing of hot water, it will not clear a clog. Bleach is amazing at sanitizing and killing germs, but it won't eat through hair and soap scum that's trapped in the pipes and causing a clog.

What is the best drain unblocker for washing machine? ›

Baking Soda and Vinegar Method

Baking soda and white vinegar are often highly recommended for unblocking drains of all kinds, and the steps for unblocking a washing machine are straightforward: Remove the hose from the back of your washing machine.

What is the cheapest way to unclog a drain? ›

Simply adding a combination of vinegar and baking soda will make a concoction that can unclog your drains.
  1. Pour half a box of baking soda down your drain.
  2. Pour half a cup of vinegar down the sink.
  3. Immediately cover the sink with a drain cover/stopper.
  4. Wait 30 minutes then pour the boiling water down the drain.
Apr 30, 2019

Can you snake your own drain? ›

For smaller clogs, snaking your own drain is possible. Routine, minor sink clogs from hairballs or food remnants are typically located in the U-shaped trap directly below the sink or only a few feet deeper in the drainpipe. They may be cleared by using a light-gauge, hand-operated auger.

What do you mix with baking soda to unclog a drain? ›

4 Steps to Unclog Your Drain with Baking Soda & Vinegar
  1. Start by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain.
  2. Next, pour a cup of baking soda and 1 cup water/1 cup vinegar solution.
  3. Cover with the drain plug and wait 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Pour boiling water down the drain again.

Why don't you unclog a drain with baking soda and vinegar? ›

Baking soda is a base and vinegar is an acid; when the two are combined, you get a fizzy chemical reaction that has some properties that can eat away at a clog. However, when you use this combination to unclog a drain, it's just plain ineffective.

What is the best homemade drain cleaner? ›

Baking Soda + Salt

Mix 1/2 cup table salt and 1/2 cup baking soda together, and pour down drain. Let sit for about 30 minutes (or overnight if it's a tough clog).

What if baking soda and vinegar doesn t work to unclog drain? ›

If the baking soda and vinegar method doesn't unclog the drain, use the salt and baking soda method next. This works best if you do it right before bedtime since the drain won't be used until morning.

Why is my washing machine drain backing up into the bathtub? ›

Washing machine: An unexpected sign of a sewer drain clog can happen when you run the washing machine. If the water draining out of the washing machine causes the toilet to overflow or backs up into the tub or shower, it's a good sign the sewer drain is clogged.

Why is my washing machine backing up into my sink? ›

Sometimes, water might back up in the kitchen sink while you're doing a load of laundry, or your bathtub will fill with water. Either case means that your main drain line is clogged. You need to call a professional to clear the drain for you.

Why does my drain keep backing up? ›

A common reason for a sewer backup are clogs in the drain pipes or main sewer lines beneath the ground. The source of the blockage may be grease, hair, or other solid materials. Clogs can also happen if the sump pump in your basement fails.


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