Repair Call: Front-load Washer Not Draining

Today’s repair call is for a problem that we have not previously encountered. Follow along with us as we tackle a drainage issue on a front-load washer.

Reported Problem

We received a text from a tenant yesterday reporting that her Whirlpool (Model WFW72HEDW0) was no longer draining.  Unfortunately, the washer was purchased from Home Depot just a little over a year ago so the one year manufacturer’s warranty had just expired.

Symptoms

The washer was empty upon arrival so I spoke to the tenant to clarify the issue. Turns out the washer was draining slowly and then would stop  and display an error code of “F9” on the control panel.

Failure Test

I initiated a quick wash cycle with a few towels and no detergent. Upon reaching the first drain portion of the cycle, the washer drained most of the water but then stopped and displayed a “SD” error code.

Since the quick wash cycle failed, I decided to use this as my failure test for ongoing verification of the washer’s operational state.

Troubleshooting

Error codes generated by appliances are designed to facilitate the troubleshooting of an appliance failure. So we began our troubleshooting by consulting the appliance vendor’s website for a full list of error codes which can be generated by our washer.
According to Whirlpool’s website, the “F9” error code reported by the tenant indicates excessive drain time while the “SD” error code that we encountered during the quick wash cycle indicates that there was excessive suds present.

Given the different error codes being generated, we decided to start by looking at the excessive drain time issue associated with the “F9” error code. We consulted a very helpful video provided by Repair Clinic.com’s website which discussed the common causes for washer drainage issues and how to troubleshoot them.

The three common causes cited in the video were:

  1. Malfunctioning or clogged drain pump
  2. Obstructed drain hose
  3. Malfunctioning door lock

We started with the first possible cause. We heard the drain pump working during our quick wash cycle test so it seemed to be in working order. However, it is possible that its effectiveness was being hampered by items caught in its filter and obstructing the flow of water being pumped out. The drain filter is located inside the washer beneath the spinner body.

Repair Clinic.com offered another video detailing the process for disassembling front-load washer to access the internal components.

The disassembly procedure demonstrated in the video required removing the top and front panel. Once the two panels were removed, we were able to locate and locate the drain pump filter.

The filter is about the size of a soda can and this is what we dumped out of it.

Resolution

We cleared the contents of the drain pump filter and then reinstalled it. We verified by rerunning our failure test of initiating a quick wash cycle with no detergent.

The water outflow during draining portions of the cycle definitely sounded much more vigorous than before and this time the cycle completed without issues.

We sent a picture of the removed contents to the tenant and reminded them to empty coins and other items from their clothing before putting them in the washer. We also asked that they make use of laundry saver bags to keep small clothing items from being sucked into the drain.

Time: 3 hours

Most of this time was spent moving the appliance out of and back into a very small laundry closet and sitting through multiple quick wash cycles.The removal, cleaning, and reinstallation of the drain pump filter took only about 30 minutes to complete.

While RepairClinic.com’s video demonstrated accessing the drain pump by removing the top and front panel of the washer, in our case, I found that the drain pump was equally accessible by removing the back panel.  Unlike the front panel, the back panel can be removed without first removing the top panel.  On this stacking washer/dryer combination, this would have saved us the time and effort of having to remove the dryer from the top of the washer.  Therefore, if you find yourself in the same situation in the future, be sure to check whether back panel removal may be the easier route to go.

Difficulty: Medium

This is actually a very easy service call even for those who do not consider themselves handy.  What elevated the difficulty in our case was the tight confines of the laundry closet and the serviceability of the washer unit.  I will discuss this more and provide tips on how you can avoid some of the issues we encountered on this service call in a future article.

Tools Used
Mr. DIY Landlord Tips

Here are a few simple tips for making DIY appliance service calls a success.

  1. Maintain an appliance inventory.
  2. Prepare in advance for a repair visit.
  3. Utilize online appliance repair resources.
  4. Make easy work of moving heavy appliances with sliders.
  5. Evaluate appliance serviceability when purchasing.

If you are interested in learning more about these tips, stay tuned for our next article where we will discuss how you can incorporate each tip into your DIY landlording.

Happy DIY Landlording,

Mr. DIY Landlord

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