Dad and daughter doing laundry together

Prevent Washing Machine Water Damage

Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team

Wear and tear on the parts of your washer can lead to internal problems that result in leaks. Take a look at our tips on preventing water damage and help to keep your home safe.

Did you know that washing machine water leaks are one of the leading sources for water damage in the home? It’s true! Both high efficiency front loaders and top-load washers can leak or seep water and cause major headaches. The good news is there are things you can do to reduce the risk of water leaking from the washer.

Take a look at our tips to prevent water damage when doing the laundry — and don’t forget to unplug your washing machine or turn off the electricity powering it before attempting any repairs. Safety first!

Why Does Your Washing Machine Leak?

If water leaks during a wash cycle, clothing overload is often the problem. But you may need to check for worn out parts and pumps, too. And if water leaks during a drain cycle, there are other things to consider — like the hose clamps and damage that can occur to the machine during the spin cycle.

Over time, wear and tear on the parts and components of your washer can lead to internal problems that result in water leaks. Here are common reasons that cause your washing machine to leak:

The washing machine is overloaded. This is the most common reason that will cause a washing machine to leak water. Look at your user’s guide for load limits and verify you’re not putting too much laundry in.

Excessive suds can cause leaks. Too much detergent can lead to excessive suds which can find their way out of your machine and lead to water damage. Sometimes, water softeners can increase your detergent’s ability to produce suds.

Worn out hose gaskets can leak. If your washing machine is old, or if you relocated it and used the same hoses, the gaskets in those hoses can become brittle over time and leak.

Why Does the Washer Leak Only Sometimes?

Track down the leak based on when it occurs and you may be able to solve the problem yourself. Look in your user’s guide for details on how to access, troubleshoot and replace the parts reviewed below. Remember, you can always call a professional if you feel uncomfortable taking on the job yourself.

For leaks that happen during the fill cycle:

There’s a problem with the air-gap device. This gadget stops water from back-flowing into your home’s water supply and can crack and leak.

The hot or cold water fill hoses to the machine are leaking. Be sure that the hoses are connected tightly at both sides of the incoming water lines. They’ll likely need replacement after a few years because those worn out hose gaskets can crack, and leak.

The incoming water tube is damaged. Once water’s inside the washing machine, it’s routed through the air-gap device or the inlet spout by an internal tube that can crack and leak.

The inlet spout is damaged. Significant amounts of water can leak out of the machine if the inlet spout is damaged or breaks free from its mount.

For leaks that happen during the drain and spin cycle:

The main drain hose is blocked or leaking. Inspect the hose that sends water into the tub or receiving area. Look at the hose’s connection from the back of the washing machine and be sure it’s properly secured. Check for a clogged drain hose by disconnecting it and running a long wire through it.

Your utility sink is cracked or its pipes are leaking. Check for punctures, cracks or leaks near the gooseneck pipes below. If you find rust or corrosion, that can also mean trouble.

For leaks that happen most of the time:

The main tub seal is faulty. This is the primary water seal between your washing machine’s outer tub and the transmission that turns the tub. Sometimes, the main seal can leak directly under the tub.

The water pump may be broken. The water pump or drain pump pushes the water from the machine’s internal tub, out. Be sure the drain hose connected to the pump is secure by looking for signs of a loose hose clamp.

Your water supply valves are faulty. Verify your water supply valves connecting to the hot and cold lines are working. If you’re gone from your home for an extended period of time, turn them off to be safe.

There’s backflow from the sewer. If you don’t have a utility sink, your washing machine drains directly into the sewer. When backflow’s an issue, you might need a sump pump or a professional plumber to review the issue.

Should There Be Water at the Bottom of Your Washing Machine?

After a complete wash cycle, your tub should be completely drained of water. Here are a few reasons why you may find water in the tub after washing clothes:

The pump has failed. During the drain and spin cycles, water is expelled out of your washing machine. If the internal tub of your machine never fully drains, you may need to replace the drain pump.

The drain pipe may be clogged. Water can partially escape during spin cycles but lint or other items can collect and block the hose over time. Think of everything that collects in your dryer vent and lint screen — you can quickly see how the drain pipe may get obstructed.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix Water Leaks in a Washing Machine?

Common washer repairs generally range in cost from $80 – $100 according to Angie’s List. Depending on the problem, the costs can climb quickly.

  • Water inlet valve or spout replacement: $160
  • Front-loading rubber door gasket replacement: $200 – $300
  • A top-loader’s lid switch replacement: $140

When Should I Replace My Washing Machine?

Sometimes, it’s wise to swap out an old washer before it causes water damage. Most washing machines are expected to last between 8 and 10 years.

If repair costs go above $500, it may be time to consider making a budget for a new washer.

Washing Machine Preventive Maintenance

Remember to check in with the washer while you’re doing laundry and inspect the area for concerns.

Do laundry when you’re home. If you’re not actively monitoring your laundry, you open yourself up to trouble. Schedule your laundry for times when you’re home, so you’re on-site if something happens.

Keep your utility sink clean. Many washers drain into a utility tub, and a clogged drain can cause water to back-up and overflow. Regularly cleaning lint, pet hair and other debris from the drain will help keep water flowing freely. Prevent lint from clogging the pipes with a simple mesh drain trap.

Mark your washer’s placement. Sometimes, the washer will shimmy and shake as it’s in a spin cycle, causing it to migrate across the floor. Mark the corners with low-tack tape and reset its position to prevent leaking hoses.

Save Money on Your Homeowners Policy

We reward smart behavior. By bundling your insurance products and installing smart home products in your home may earn you a discount on your homeowners insurance.

Get a leak detector. A smart home water sensor can tell when a leak has started and send an alert to your phone in real-time. For a few more dollars, pick up a device that actually shuts off the water if there’s a leak.

Save a bundle. By combining insurance like adding your car to a homeowners policy, you may qualify for bundled savings.

Go green and save even more with a paperless account. Choosing to reduce and reuse where you can isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for your bottom line, too. Save more on your insurance with My Account or get the MyAmFam app and hold on to more of your hard-earned money.

The good news is that most homeowners insurance policies will help cover water damage that’s caused by your washing machine. If you have any questions about your policy or if you’ve had some water damage, connect with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to learn more. If you need to file a claim, your agent will help you get started.

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