Water in washing machine drum when off or post-cycle? Easy fix10 min read

It can be extremely frustrating when you notice a pool of water at the bottom of your washing machine drum. Whilst this is a common and alarming problem, leaving it can cause further damage to both your washing machine and your clothes. 

Water can appear in your washing machine drum due to a faulty water valve or back-siphoning from your drain line. Where your drum still has water in it immediately following a cycle the cause is probably faulty drainage, a broken door latch, or a faulty water pump. 

Whilst dealing with a washing machine with water in the bottom of its drum can seem like a big issue, the fix is usually simple. In this article, I’ll run through step-by-step exactly how to fix the issue and get your washing machine operating normally again.

 In a world filled with unreliable online information, it’s crucial to seek out trustworthy sources. This article has been reviewed by Andy Fulenchek, an experienced appliance repairman with over 10 years of expertise and the owner of Grace Appliance. Look for expert quotes to guide you through the noise of misinformation.

how to fix Water in the Bottom of Your Washing Machine Drum: common causes 

In my experience, there are two types of complaints regarding water remaining within the washing machine drum. The first question is this:

Why does water appear in your washing machine drum even when it’s turned off?

The cause occasionally relates to a leaking water inlet valve, or more commonly back-siphoning from your sink wastewater. This can cause the drum to fill up with either clean or dirty water, even when the machine is turned off.

I also wrote an entire article on finding dirty water in your washing machine drum. Within that article, I talk through exactly why it happens and what you can do to fix it. 

The other complaint is: Why is there water left in your washing machine after the cycle?

The most common causes are a faulty drainage system (usually an obstructed drain hose), a broken door latch, or a broken water pump.

I’m going to go through each of these issues in detail covering the most common problems and how to fix them. If you’re not 100% sure of the cause of the problems you’re experiencing, I’d encourage you to read through each one to ensure you have all bases covered. 

A common symptom associated with back-siphoning is that the washing machine’s water valves will continually fill, but the water level in the tub does not increase. This is caused by a drain hose inserted too far in to the home’s drain line. Insert the drain hose 6″-8″ in to the drain line and zip tie to a nearby water valve to secure it in place.

Andy Fulenchek

Here’s a brief table showing the most common cases of water in the bottom of the washing machine: 

SignsMost likely cause of water in the washing machine 
The washing machine drum fills with water overnight, even when the machine is turned off. Faulty water inlet or back siphoning from the kitchen sink 
Water does not drain after the water cycle and the pump sounds normal.Blocked drainage hose, a kink in the drainage hose or a failed pump.
Washing machine cuts off mid-cycle with water in the drum. Faulty washing machine door latch.
Excessive noise during operation and washing machine not draining. Faulty washing machine water pump. 

Why is there Water in the washing machine drum when not in use?  

The two most common causes of washing machines randomly filling up with water are a broken water valve or back siphoning from sink drainage water. Within this section I’ll cover both of these problems in detail and how you should go about fixing them at home. 

The washing Machine Water Valve Is Broken 

A washing machine water valve is a device that controls the inward flow of water to a washing machine. It is normally located at the back of the machine where the water supply hoses are connected. The purpose of the valve is to regulate the hot and cold water supply to the washing machine during the different cycles of operation. 

Over time, the water valve can accumulate mineral deposits or sediment, causing it to get jammed in the ON position (and preventing it from turning off). This is particularly common in regions with hard water. Mechanical failure can also occur leading to leaks, malfunctions, or complete failure. 

Diagram of water inlet valve

A broken or clogged water valve can cause a gradual trickle of fresh water into your washing machine drum. It is particularly common when a washing machine has been left unattended for extended periods, typically spanning several days. 

There are two ways for you to determine if the water in your washing machine drum is being caused by a faulty water valve: 

  1. The water in your washing machine will be clean and will appear overnight, even when the machine is turned off (or unplugged). 
  2. Take out the soap drawer and look closely at where the water enters the dispenser cup. If the water valve is slightly open or broken, you’ll see a steady trickle of water. 

It’s not normally possible to repair the water valve so you’ll need to replace it. Fortunately, a replacement water valve is inexpensive and it’s an easy job but you’ll need to ensure you purchase the correct part. This water valve (on Amazon) suits most Kitchenaid, Whirlpool, and Kenmore washers. 

Whilst the time to replace a water valve varies depending on the machine and expertise of the person performing the replacement, I’d expect you to replace the valve in less than an hour. 

How to replace a washing machine water valve

Before starting any kind of work on your washing machine, ensure it is unplugged and that the water supply is turned off. You’ll notice that most of my washing machine articles start like this… water and electricity are not a good mix! 

You’ll also need to make sure you purchase the correct water inlet valve. By using a website like https://www.partselect.com, you can input your model number to locate the correct part. One of the most common washing machines in the US is a Whirlpool WTW5000DW and the water inlet valve price is $68.66 (all models vary). 

Take note of the condition of your home’s water shut off valves at this time. Are they easy to turn on/off? Are they rusted? Do you have a steady drip when in the fully off position? If so, consider replacing these valves soon as they’re giving you warning signs ahead of time. 

Take note of your washer hoses at this point. Are the rubber gaskets in good condition? 
Washer hoses should be replaced every 5 years maximum. If a washer hose bursts, it will FLOOD a house as it will dump 1/4″ of water full time.

Additionally, the end screw portion of the hose should easily rotate allowing you to tighten the hose to the valve without the entire hose wanting to twist at the same time. 
Often, due to rust/corrosion, these will no longer turn as they should which makes replacing the hoses quite difficult.

Andy Fulenchek
  1. Access the water inlet valve. Move your washer away from the wall and unscrew the back panel. If you need to move a stacked washer/dryer to access the washer, read this article first.
  2. Disconnect the water supply. Carefully loosen and disconnect both the hot and cold water supply hoses from the existing water valve. You might need to use a pair of pliers and remember to have a bucket or towel ready to catch any leakage.
  3. Remove the broken water valve. With most models, the valve is secured to the back panel with screws or mounting brackets. So you’ll need to remove these fasteners holding the valve in place and detach it from the washer. 
  4. Install the new water valve. Align your new water valve correctly and secure it using the same fasteners you removed in the previous step. 
  5. Re-connect the water supply. Connect both the hot and cold supply hoses to the new valve. Tighten these hoses as tight as possible by hand, then add another 1/8 turn with a set of pliers. Check for leaks, but don’t go overboard since leaking at this point is most likely an issue with the hoses and not a tightness issue. Do not risk damaging the valve by over tightening it.  Also, make certain that the steel water line connection is not cross threaded on the plastic water valve threads. These can easily become cross-threaded and destroy the new valve – Unfortunately I know this first hand!
  6. Test for leaks. Slowly turn on the water supply and check for leaks. If freshly installed, the water valve should be in the ‘off’ position so you shouldn’t see any water trickling out. If you do notice leaks, you can tighten the connections further or use some thread seal tape (on Amazon)
  7. Reassemble and test. Once everything has been installed and you’ve ensured there are no leaks, reassemble the panels and covers that were removed. Plug in the washer, turn on the power, and run a test cycle. 

Hopefully, these instructions provide some background on how to replace your water inlet valve. I also found this useful video and you may want to follow along here: 

Back-siphoning into your washing machine 

If your washing machine has been installed incorrectly, you may notice dirty (and sometimes smelly!) water appearing in your washing machine drum. 

Note: this will only occur where your washing machine and sink share a drainage trap. This isn’t always the case but is a common method of installation when your washing machine is close to your sink. 

In summary, due to faulty installation, the drainage hose from your washing machine may move downwards from your sink trap. This means that dirty sink water may be entering your washing machine via the drainage hose. 

The hose needs to be raised above the sink trap to prevent sink water from flowing down the pipe and into your machine. 

Washer drain hose into trap

Another cause of dirty sink water draining into your washing machine is where there is a blockage in your drainage or a kink in the drainage hose. 

Here are some other signs of back siphoning in your washing machine: 

  • After the cycle, your washer partially re-fills with dirty water when turned off or over a long period of time
  • The wash may be prolonged and spinning won’t be as effective
  • The water may be greasy with a nasty smell 

How to fix back-siphoning in washing machines 

In order to prevent back siphoning from occurring between your sink drainage and your washing machine, you should clear any potential blockages and ensure the correct installation of your washing machine drainage hose. 

Let’s first make sure your sink isn’t blocked. The quickest method to clear a blocked sink drain is to put boiling water down the sink or to use a drain clog remover (on Amazon). If this method doesn’t work you’ll need to be slightly more physical and make use of either a plunger or a drain snake (on Amazon)

Once your drainage is clear of blockages, let’s look at the grey drain hose behind your washing machine. The hose needs to go up OVER the height of the sink bowl, and down again before it goes into the trap. Washing machines come with a support crook accessory that can be screwed to a wall, and this ensures the drainage pipe moves downwards into the sink trap. 

Why is there water in the washing machine drum after washing? 

Within this section, I’ll run through the most common reasons why water may remain in your washing machine drum directly after the cycle. 

Obstructed Drain Hose

One of the primary causes for washing machines failing to drain effectively often stems from problems with the washing machine drain hose.

Washing machine drain hose

Even though washing machine pumps are powerful, they possess certain restrictions and can only propel water within a limited range. In the event of a twist or obstruction in the drain hose, the pump’s ability to extract water from the washing machine drum will be impacted. 

Washing machine drain hoses are made of durable plastic, but they aren’t as stiff as the pipes inside the walls of a house. This means the drain hose can become bent, twisted, or looped, leading to water not draining efficiently from the washing machine.

If your drain hose is preventing water from draining properly, water will build up in your washing machine drum and you may also notice sitting water at the end of the cycle. 

Some other signs indicating a blocked drain hose include: 

  • There may be an error code. Here are common error codes for varying manufacturers indicating blocked drainage:
  • Your washing machine pump makes ordinary noises but the machine doesn’t drain. 
  • Clothes are soaking wet at the end of the spin cycle. 
  • An unpleasant smell (if the blockage has existed for quite some time). 

The drain hose is at the back of the machine and you’ll need to remove the cabinet to access where the drain hose attaches to the drain pump. 

  1. Undo the clamp and pull the hose off the pump. 
  2. Check the valve inside the drain hose. This is the most common area for blockages to occur. Use needle nose pliers to remove any blockages. 
  3. Replace the hose ensuring no kinks. 

If the blockage is beyond the valve it’s way easier just to replace the drain hose (on Amazon). They are so inexpensive it’s probably not worth your time trying to unclog something that’s really deep in the hose! 

Broken Door Latch 

A broken door latch or seal can also be the cause of water remaining in your washing machine. A broken door latch can cause your machine to cut off mid-cycle due to a safety mechanism preventing the machine from spinning whilst the door is open.  

Washing Machine Door Latch

This is more common on top-loading washing machines but can impact both top-loaders and front-loading washers. 

The door switch is normally inside your washer by the door frame. If the lid switch is broken (mechanically or electrically), the subsequent cycle will not run, leaving water in the drum and your clothes soaked. 

The first thing you should do is manually inspect the door lock mechanism for any blockages. If you’re lucky and have found something, it would be a simple fix to remove whatever’s stuck. 

After visual inspection, the best way to test for a faulty door switch is by using a multimeter (on Amazon). Test for continuity with the door shut. If the test is negative or your door switch isn’t engaged properly, it’s faulty.

Luckily repairing a door lock and switch assembly is usually cheap and easy. The process varies depending on whether you have a top-load washer or a front-load washer. 

Here’s a video on how to replace the door switch on a front-loading washing machine: 

And here’s a video on how to replace the door switch on a top-loading washing machine: 

Broken Pump

A broken washing machine pump can also cause water to remain in your washing machine drum. You should definitely check out the drainage hose and filter before concluding it’s a bad pump. 

Washing Machine Pump

Here are some common signs of a worn-out water pump: 

  • Failure to drain or slow drainage
  • Excessive noise during operation
  • Water leaks around or underneath the machine
  • Inability to start or complete cycles
  • Unpleasant odors from the washer

Unless you’re a real expert at DIY it’s normally best to get a professional to diagnose and fix a broken water pump on a washing machine. 

Expect to pay around $120 for a diagnostic fee, and an additional $100 in labor to actually replace the pump. 

The price of a replacement washing machine pump varies but it’s likely to be less than $50. 

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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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