January 3, 2022

Why is my washing machine leaking when not in use?

By Lyle Weischwill
PHOTO: Disconnect the fill hoses.
PHOTO: Disconnect the fill hoses.

Many different problems could cause washer water leaks when you’re not using the washing machine.

You’ll want to find and resolve the cause of the leak quickly to prevent water damage in your laundry room.

Common issues that lead to a leaking washing machine

Cracked water supply fill hoses are one of the most common causes of washing machine leaks. Hot and cold water fill hoses carry water from the water supply faucets to the water inlet connections on the back panel of the washer. These water hoses don’t last forever. Over time, the hoses connecting the water supply to the washer wear out and begin leaking. You may see a small puddle of water coming out from beneath the washer when a fill hose begins leaking. Check the fill hoses and shut off the water supply faucets if you see a hose leaking. Replace the fill hoses immediately to avoid flooding your laundry room.

Water can also leak from the washer when it’s off if a water inlet valve sticks open so the washer tub constantly fills with water. The water can be a trickle or a steady flow. When the leak is just a trickle, you may see the problem in time to shut off the water supply and drain the washer to prevent a laundry room flood.

Why is my washing machine filling up with water when not in use?

Two different problems can cause your washer to fill with water when it’s not in use.

Debris caught in a water inlet valve

When debris such as sand or a flake of hard water deposits sticks on the seating surface of an inlet water valve, the valve won’t completely shut so it will constantly leak water into the washer tub. When you see water in the washer tub even when the washer is turned off, use this procedure to see whether an inlet water valve is leaking:

  1. Shut off the water supply faucets behind the washer.

  2. Use a drain and spin cycle to drain all water out of the washer.

  3. Unplug the washer to disconnect electrical power.

  4. Open the water supply faucets behind the washer and see if the washer fills with water.

Shut off the water supply faucets and replace the water inlet valve assembly if water leaks into the washer while it’s unplugged from the electrical outlet. (If your washer has separate hot and cold water inlet valves, you can isolate which valve is leaking by see whether the washer fills with only one water supply faucet opened up at a time.)

Our How to replace a water inlet valve on a vertical modular top-load washer repair guide/video shows how to replace the valve in a common top loading washer and the How to replace a water inlet valve on a front-load washer repair guide/video shows how to complete that repair on a front loader.

Bad timer or control board is opening the inlet valve

If the washer doesn't fill constantly when unplugged, then a bad timer or control board is sending electrical current to the water inlet valve to fill the washer when the washer is turned off. Replace the control board or timer to fix this problem (with the washer still unplugged).

Why does my washing machine leak occasionally?

Sometimes, the washer may appear to be leaking intermittently when it’s off because a small leak occurs during the cycle and the water ekes out from under the washer after the cycle finished. The amount of water may be so small at times that it stays under the washer so you don’t see the leak.

Here are some common causes of minor water leaks that can occur when the washer is running but only appearing after the cycle finishes:

Front loading washer

Torn or cracked door boot gasket. The door boot gasket (also called a bellows) seals the opening between the door and the washer tub. A tear or crack in the gasket can be difficult to see and a small hole won’t necessarily leak water during every cycle. Carefully examine the door boot and replace it if you find a crack or tear in the gasket.

Leaking dispenser hose. Small hoses connecting the water inlet supply to the dispenser housing can develop small leaks over time. Because every wash cycle doesn’t use the same dispenser hoses to dispense detergent, fabric softener and bleach into a cycle, a dispenser hose leak can be intermittent when you use various cycles for laundry. Check for water leaking from dispenser hoses and replace any leaking dispenser hose.

Top-load washer

Tub ring collecting water. The tub ring at the top of some top-load washers will collect water which splashes out and leaks through the bottom of the cabinet intermittently. A clogged drain hole or the tub ring can cause water to accumulate and leak through the washer bottom. Unclog the drain hole in the tub ring or replace the tub ring to avoid this type of intermittent washer leak.

Worn tub seal. The water seal between the tub and the motor drive shaft can wear out and start leaking intermittently. You’ll likely hear the washer making a roaring or rumbling sound during the spin cycle, check the bottom of the washer tub for a leak. Replace the tub seal and bearing if water leaks through the tub seal.

If you’re not able to find and fix the washer leak yourself, have a service technician examine and repair your washer.

Symptoms common to all washers

Choose a symptom to see related washer repairs.

Main causes: leaky water inlet valve, faulty water-level pressure switch, bad electronic control board
Main causes: lack of electrical power, wiring failure, bad power cord, electronic control board failure, bad user interface board
Main causes: water heater failure, bad water temperature switch, faulty control board, bad water valve, faulty water temperature sensor
Main causes: unbalanced load, loose spanner nut, worn drive block, broken shock absorber or suspension spring, debris in drain pump
Main causes: broken lid switch or lid lock, bad pressure switch, broken shifter assembly, faulty control system
Main causes: clogged drain hose, house drain clogged, bad drain pump, water-level pressure switch failure, bad control board or timer
Main causes: worn agitator dogs, bad clutch, broken motor coupler, shifter assembly failure, broken door lock, suspension component failure
Main causes: no water supply, bad water valves, water-level pressure switch failure, control system failure, bad door lock or lid switch
Main causes: bad lid switch or door lock, bad timer or electronic control board, wiring failure, bad water inlet valve assembly

Articles and videos common to all washers

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your washer.

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