Washing Machine Leaking from the Bottom During Fill Cycle: how to fix it6 min read

A washing machine leak not only creates a mess inside the house but can also damage internal components. Where the leak occurs at the bottom of the washing machine and only during the filling cycle, it’s often easy to locate the root cause. 

Your washing machine may leak from the bottom during the fill cycle due to a faulty water inlet valve or damaged supply hoses. Make sure the connections are tight and consider replacing the inlet hose. The second most likely cause is a faulty water level switch which causes an overfilling of water.   

Within this article I’ll take you through the most common causes of leaks during the fill cycle, starting with the easiest to diagnose and fix. This article has been expert-reviewed by Andy Fulenchek, who is a professional appliance repairman with over 10 years of industry experience. If you want accuracy and actionable advice, keep reading!

Why Is Your Washing Machine Leaking from Underneath When Filling Up? 5 possibilities 

When your washing machine leaks from the bottom during the filling cycle, there are a few specific and common causes that I’m going to run through. You may also notice that the washing machine only leaks during the fill cycle and does not leak during other cycles, like the rinse. 

I personally own a stacked washer and dryer making it difficult to access certain parts of the washing machine. If you’re the same, you might want to also read my article on moving the leaning tower of washer/dryers once you’ve figured out the problem! 

Water always runs downhill. Identify the highest spot you see water and the leak will often be very close by and won’t be higher than that location! Keep in mind that water will sometimes be ‘slung’ to this higher spot or may have dripped down a wire or hose to this location. While finding leaks isn’t rocket surgery, keeping these things in mind has saved me so much time & aggrivation over the years.

Andy Fulenchek, Professional Appliance Repairman and Owner Of Grace Appliance.

Fortunately, many of these problems are easily fixable at home:

1. faulty water inlet valve or damaged supply hoses

The number one most common cause of a washing machine leaking during the fill cycle is faulty inlet hoses. The inlet hose on a washing machine supplies water from the main water supply to the machine, allowing it to fill with water before starting the wash cycle.

Missing gaskets or loose connections will cause water to leak and pool on the floor during the fill cycle. Sometimes the inlet valve also malfunctions (which controls the flow of water into the washing machine) causing it to not close properly, and therefore leakage during the fill cycle. 

Washing machine supply hoses

So the first thing you should do is tighten these connections and replace damaged or missing gaskets and washers to stop the leak.

Make sure not to over-tighten the hoses as the rubber gaskets have a tendency to become torn if over tightened.

Andy Fulenchek

Inspect the water inlet valve at the back of the machine by checking for any signs of damage (cracks or leaks). Momentarily turn on the water supply and look for any water drips or leaks. Also, examine the supply hoses for things like cracks or moisture. 

My recommendation as the easiest way to fix a leaking inlet connection is to simply replace the hose with some universal hoses like these (on Amazon). They are cheap and easy to replace. Make sure not to cross-thread the new hoses onto the valve, as this can destroy the valve by damaging the threaded portion.

Note: I used to have an old Maytag, and the washer hose was inset under the top panel making it really fiddly to access and tighten (perhaps other older washers are the same). These pliers (on Amazon) are amazing in this instance.

GE Appliances actually recommends you change the fill hose screens and washers (on Amazon) every five years to prevent leakages. I’d also recommend installing new hoses every 5 years too – I’ve also made the mistake before of letting hoses age far too long, which can cause unexpected and avoidable leaks.

2. pressure switch (water level switch)

The second most common cause of a leak from the bottom of a washing machine during the fill cycle is a faulty pressure switch. The pressure switch in a washing machine plays a crucial role in managing water intake during a fill cycle. When you start a wash, it instructs the water inlet valve and temperature switch to fill the tub. 

Washing Machine Pressure Switch

With a functioning pressure switch, the water inlet valve should turn off at the correct water level and instruct the machine to begin agitating.   

If the water level switch is faulty, your washing machine’s tub can overfill and leak during the fill cycle. You might also experience your washer stopping mid-cycle, or not even starting at all. 

To test a washing machine water level switch follow these instructions: 

  1. Locate the pressure switch. In front-load washers the switch is normally directly under the top panel, often attached to the frame. For top-loaders, you’ll find the switch in the interior of the washer panel under the main top, or behind the control panel. Newer washers may integrate the pressure switch on the control board itself.
  2. Remove or isolate the pressure switch and the attached air pressure tube. 
  3. Inspect the air pressure tube and confirm it has no cracks or holes, and that it fits snugly into the switch port. Pin holes can be really difficult to identify. A couple of tips that have worked for me in the past: plug the end of the line with one other hand and blow through the other end of the tube to see if there is an obvious hole OR submerge the entire tube in water and blow air into the tube to see if there are air bubbles.
  4. Figure out which terminal is which on the switch using your washer wiring diagram. There are 3 terminals – ‘common’, ‘normally closed’, and ‘normally open’. 
  5. Use a multimeter (on Amazon) to test the switch for continuity. Rotate the multimeter selector to the lowest level of ohms of resistance. 
  6. Connect the black lead to the ‘common’ terminal and the red to the ‘normally closed’ terminal. 
  7. Read the meter display which should show close to 0 ohms. Then blow into the pressure tube and watch the display on the multimeter. You should hear a clicking sound and the display should show resistance. Note: ONLY do this with older style machines, as some newer, board-mounted water level sensors will be damaged if blown into.
  8. Repeat the same process for the ‘normally open’ terminal. 

If your switch ohm reading remains negative throughout this entire test, or shows a positive reading when it should not, your pressure switch will need replacing. 

Negative throughout the test or positive when it should not, you know it needs replacing. Pressure switches cost upwards of around $100 but are not too difficult to replace. Here’s a video I found showing the replacement of an LG/Kenmore pressure switch: 

3. clogged or overflowing detergent drawer

Another potential cause of water appearing at the bottom of your washing machine during the fill cycle relates to a faulty detergent drawer. If your soap drawer only leaks when the washing machine is filling, it’s possible your incoming water pressure is too high. The ideal is typically around 55-80PSI.

The first thing you should do is make sure your washing machine is level. A washing machine that leans forward encourages water to leak from the detergent tray. 

Next, make sure your detergent dispenser is not clogged. Give it a good clean, ensuring you remove all excess detergent. Run water through the dispenser to check if it flows freely without any leaks. 

Washing machine detergent drawer

Note: you should also leave your drawer open to air dry once the cycle is finished. This will prevent mold buildup. 

Some other articles online recommend reducing the water pressure by turning the tap on the washer down as a potential solution. However I would NOT recommend doing this… If excessive water pressure is discovered, contact a plumber to install a pressure-reducing valve, which is installed near the water meter.

The other solution is to get a more localized water regulator that is installed directly at the incoming water valve for the specific appliance.

4. unlevel washing machine

Another basic check you should carry out whilst investigating the cause of the leak is to ensure your washing machine is properly balanced. An unbalanced washing machine can cause the following problems: 

  • Leaks 
  • Excessive vibrations or shaking, particularly during the spin cycle
  • Loud banging noises 
  • The machine ‘walking’ or moving across the floor 

Additionally, if your washing machine isn’t sitting level, water can splash off the top of the basket or load over the tub as it fills. This may leak onto the floor. 

Many times, if a customer piles clothes/overloads the tub, water then tries to fill on top of the pile of clothes and you’ll get the splashing over the side in this instance as well.

Andy Fulenchek

Balancing a washing machine is easy: 

  1. Place a level across the front and back of the machine to check its level (I use a level app on my phone which works great!). You can also push the two corners of the top of the machine to detect any unlevel legs. 
  2. Adjust the feet at the base of the machine until you achieve level. In most cases, only the front two legs are adjustable, but the back legs are not or are ‘self-adjusting’. Using boards or shims for a very unlevel home is an option to make macro-adjustments.

5. tub seal leak

The tub seal in a washing machine is located between the outer tub and the inner tub, sealing the two parts together to prevent water leakage during the wash and spin cycles. It also prevents oil and other nasty substances from entering your drum. If it leaks, water will appear near the center of the bottom of the outer tub. 

A damaged or torn tub seal can cause a small leak during the filling cycle, which you might be experiencing. You may also notice oil leaks and oil getting on clothes in addition to a grinding or scraping sound whilst the machine is running. 

Eventually, a leaking tub seal will rust your tub bearings leading to a loose washing machine drum

Replacing the tub seal kit can be a big job. Top-load washers require removing the inner tub from the outer tub. Often parts are difficult/impossible to remove due to age/corrosion. Some specialty tools may also be required.

Front-load jobs are even more difficult as they require removing both the inner and outer tub from the machine, splitting the two tubs, and then replacing the bearing, often the spider support as well.

I have previously attempted this and failed, so I’d warn you that this is going to be more on the advanced side of home improvement. I didn’t anticipate requiring more parts than I originally thought, and I underestimated what exactly I was getting myself in for.

Saying that, I did find a great video on how to replace a tub seal kit in a top-loading washer: 

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Hi, I'm Ed, and I run BuildFanatic! I enjoy providing the best possible information on a range of home improvement topics.

Andy Fulenchek
Owner at Grace Appliance | Website | + posts

Andy is a professional appliance repairman and business owner with years of hands-on experience. He co-authors and reviews appliance articles, ensuring accuracy and top-notch information for readers.

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