Few things are more frustrating than finding a puddle on the floor; especially if you don't have a baby or a puppy to blame it on. A puddle in the laundry room almost always means that your washer is leaking. Fortunately, some of the puddles only mean a minor repair is needed. And, some mean a big problem. No matter the reason, every puddle needs to be investigated and repaired before the puddle becomes a flood.
I often get questions describing where the leak occurs - front of the washer, back of the washer. It is helpful to know this; but I can't always rely on that clue as to the problem. Water flows and gathers at the lowest point. If your washer or floor isn't level, the leak may not be directly above the puddle. Be sure your washer is level before you tackle a leaking problem.
While some leaks have universal causes in both front loading and top loading washers, I've made separate lists so that you can more easily identify the problem in your washer style.
Causes of Top Load Washer Leaks
Leaks at the front of a washer are usually caused by the overflow tube being clogged or tilted. Clogs can happen due to oversudsing due to using too much detergent or combining laundry products inappropriately.
Oversudsing can easily happen in homes that have a water softening system installed. With softer water, less detergent is needed for effective cleaning. To test if you are using too much detergent, take a freshly washed item - like a small hand towel - and place it in a bowl of hot water before drying. If the water becomes sudsy, you are using too much detergent.
The washer can leak if it is overloaded or out of balance. Check to be sure the washer is level, reduce the load size and keep an eye out for the leak. You may have solved the problem.
If you have a washer that features a spray rinse function, interfering with the cycle by manually advancing the timer can cause the washer to leak. The manual advance can often cause the spray rinse cycle to go on too long and overflow.
If your washer is new, you may have forgotten to remove the manufacturer's drain plug before installing the drain hose. Remove the hose and you'll find a plastic plug that must be removed and discarded. Have a bucket and towels ready to catch the excess water.
The leak at the back of the washer can also be caused by a drain hose not properly secured in the drainpipe. Be sure that the hose if fully inserted into the standpipe (drainpipe). If there is still a leak around the drain hose, especially during the washer spin cycle, the drainpipe is probably clogged. The clog is not allowing the water to continue down the pipe and causing it to backup and overflow onto the floor.
Another possible cause for a leak at the back of the washer are loose connections at the fill hoses. Turn off the water supply and remove the hoses and check that the rubber washers are in good shape or if they are even there. Skipping the use of rubber washers is common and can cause leaks. If after replacing and hand-tightening the connections there is still a leak; replace the fill hoses. There could be a pinhole leak that will soon erupt into a flooding of your floor.
A leak under the washer indicates a hole in the water pump. It should be replaced immediately to prevent water from falling directly on the motor. Water + Motor = Failure. If you are handy, you can find a repair manual for your washer model here and replacement parts here.
Overflowing is hardly a leak but it is a problem. Overflowing is usually caused by a water valve or pressure switch problem. Time for a repair!
Causes of Front Load Washer Leaks
The same problems that occur on a top load washer with the drain hoses and inlet water hoses can happen with a front load washer. Follow the tips listed above to identify and repair the leaks.
A front load washer can also leak in the back overflow area due to oversudsing. You must always use HE detergent in a front loader and only use a small amount.
If the door seal on a front load washer is not kept free of soil and soap, the seal will leak. It is important to clean the gasket weekly and pay close attention to the edges. Inspect the seal and look for punctures or trapped items.
A leak can also occur if the door is not closing properly. The hinges can be loosened and readjusted to be sure that alignment is correct.
A front load washer has an inner and outer drum. In many washers, the outer drum is manufactured in two halves and then bolted together. These seams can begin to leak and will need to be replaced or repaired.