How to Fix a Washing Machine Leak After a Winter Freeze

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Washing machine leaks can damage the floor.
Washing machine leaks can damage the floor. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Cold weather is the bane of water pipes and the appliances that rely on them. Water expands when it freezes, and this increases pressure in the pipes as the temperature drops. If the pressure isn't relieved or the water doesn't thaw, the pipe may burst. When this happens, the appliance it leads to won't work properly until the leak is fixed. Repairing a washing machine leak after a winter freeze requires care to prevent the leak from becoming worse.

Things You'll Need

  • Hair dryer
  • Pipe cutter
  • Replacement pipe
  • Sandpaper
  • Pipe clamps or soldering kit
  • Insulating sleeve
  • Replacement hoses, gaskets and water pump
  • Wrench
  • Car jack

Turn off the main water valve if the pipes leading to the washer are frozen. Open all the faucets in your home to give the water already in the system places to go as it starts thawing. Unplug the washer as well to prevent an electrical accident.

Search for cracks in the pipes leading to the washing machine. Use a hair dryer to blow hot air on a cracked pipe to thaw out the ice inside it. Place a container under the pipe to collect water as it starts leaking out. The water should be minimal with the main valve turned off.

Cut off the cracked portion of the pipe with a pipe cutter and replace it with a fresh pipe piece of equal size. Scrub the pipe with sandpaper and rinse off both the new and old pipes to clean them. Clamp the replacement pipe in place, or solder it. Wrap the repaired pipe in a pipe insulation sleeve to prevent future freezing.

Examine the hoses leading to the washing machine. Use a hair dryer on them to thaw any frozen water, and replace any hoses that leak. Reconnect the hoses with fresh gaskets.

Open the access panel on the bottom or back of the washer once the rest of your pipes have thawed and the main water valve is back on. Turn on the washer so it starts filling. Watch the pump and components in the access panel to look for leaks as the basin fills.

Replace the pump, if it leaks, by unplugging the washer and tilting the front of it up on a car jack so it won't fall. Unbolt the pump from its housing, using a wrench. Unhook the hoses from the pump, slide the belt off and wiggle the pump out. Put a new one in, hook up the hoses and bolt it in with the wrench. The pump lever goes into the agitator slot and the belt should align with the pump pulley.

Plug the washer back in and place insulating sleeves on the rest of your pipes to prevent future freezing.

References

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