As you probably already know, freezing can damage your washing machine in many ways that go beyond preventing you from using it.
If the water inside your washer drain freezes, the liquid will expand and turn solid and possibly cause the washer drain to break under pressure.
The same goes for any other component of your washing machine, not just the drain pipe and the drain hose.
In this guide, we will talk about the easiest, most effective ways of fixing a frozen washer drain, but we’ll also touch on the best methods of preventing the washer drain from freezing.
Why is your washer drain frozen?
When it comes to the potential reasons why this issue keeps happening, there actually aren’t many.
In most cases, the problem develops from the temperature of the room where you keep your washer, as well as the remaining water in the washer.
Let’s go over some of these possible scenarios, which will also help you prevent this issue in the future.
1. Low temperature in the room
As we’ve mentioned, one of the core issues with low temperatures and your washing machine is that the remaining water in the drain hose or drain pipe turns into ice.
In this process, the liquid transforms into solid ice, so the ice will expand and possibly damage or even break the drain components.
If you keep your washing machine in your basement, garage, RV, or any other location where the temperature drops quite low, this is the reason why your washer drain keeps freezing.
More specifically, if the temperature of the water drops below 32 degrees F inside the drain, it will freeze and turn into ice.
As the ice expands, it will most likely break or damage the frozen pipe or hose, depending on the amount of water that was left in the components.
Unfortunately, in this case, your washing machine could get damaged beyond repair, so it is necessary to tend to your frozen drain right away and ensure that the washer isn’t exposed to freezing temperatures.
2. Remaining water in the washer
What causes the washer drain to freeze, aside from the freezing temperature, is the remaining water in the washer components.
If you want to prevent the washer drain from freezing and protect your washer, you can simply ensure that there is no water to freeze.
The more water left in the washer, the bigger the chances are that you’ll face some kind of water damage if your washer is located in a really cold place.
3. The washer isn’t winterized
In case you have a washer that you aren’t going to use during the winter season, it is necessary to winterize it and protect it from cold weather. Skipping this could lead to an unpleasant surprise the next time you try to use your washer.
It is also important to note that, in many cases, the warranty will not cover the freeze damage in case you haven’t winterized your washing machine and prepared it for the winter season.
How to fix a frozen washer drain
Freeze damage, and water damage in general, can cause a serious problem in your washer, as well as plumbing pipes, faucets, and water supply lines in general.
Oftentimes, the damage to your washing machine after the winter season is beyond repair, which is not only extremely frustrating and time-consuming but expensive, as well.
Instead, learn how to deal with a frozen washer drain without damaging the washer and its components, but also how to prevent it from freezing in the future.
1. Keep your washer at an adequate temperature
Let’s start by eliminating the first problem when it comes to frozen washer drain: low temperature. As we’ve mentioned in this guide, if the temperature of the water drops below 32 degrees F, it will solidify and turn into ice.
This usually happens if you keep your washer in your basement, RV, or garage. The solution to this problem would be to simply move the washing machine (if possible), or ensure that the temperature doesn’t go below 32 degrees.
You could use a space heater to ensure that the washer drain or any of its components don’t freeze during the winter season.
2. Drain the remaining water
If there’s no remaining water in the drain – there’s also no possibility of ice forming inside it and causing all this havoc.
What you need to do to remove the remaining water from your washer is to make sure that the water supply lines are unhooked before you proceed with any other steps.
You now want to run a spin cycle, which should eliminate the remaining water from the washer. Finally, don’t forget to unplug the drain line and empty it out, as well.
In case you notice there’s still some water left in the washer, you may need to rock the washer a few times and tip it forward or backward to release any trapped water.
You may also need to ensure that the tub is completely dry by wiping it with a towel.
In case you’re not familiar with this process, you may wonder what exactly should be done to winterize your washing machine, especially the one you won’t be using during the cold winter months.
Winterizing the washer means protecting it against freeze damage, especially if your washer is located in a vacation home or an RV you won’t be visiting during the winter.
This is usually achieved by using an antifreeze product in your washer, which will prevent the remaining water from freezing and expanding inside the washer, causing freeze damage.
We recommend only using non-toxic antifreeze products specifically formulated for washer winterizing purposes.
All you need to do is add the product to your washing machine and run a spin cycle, which will distribute the antifreeze throughout the lines, including the drain area.
Once you’re ready to start using the washer again, make sure to run an empty load with the addition of washing detergent to get rid of the remaining antifreeze in the washer system.
Another important thing to remember when leaving your vacation home or RV before the winter season is to shut off the water supply to your washer to ensure that it doesn’t freeze.
4. Use hot water
You already know that using hot water is one of the most efficient methods of dealing with ice. And since hot water is used in washing cycles, we strongly recommend using your washer regularly to prevent the washer drain from freezing.
Try to run hot water cycles, even on those days when you’re not doing any laundry, as this will ensure that the ice doesn’t form inside the drain hose and pipe, as well as all the other washing machine elements.
5. Thaw the frozen drain
While it is much better to prevent your washer from freezing than having to deal with ice in your washer drain later on, if your washer drain is already frozen but nothing is damaged and all you need to do is thaw it, here’s what you should do.
Pour ½ cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. Wait for a couple of minutes for this natural thawing solution to work and for the chemical reaction to take place (you’ll notice fizz and bubbles).
The solution should clear out the clog inside the drain and melt the ice that has formed inside the drain.
Boil 3 cups of water and 1 cup of salt in a pot. Then, pour this mixture into the drain to ensure that the frozen clog has been removed completely. This will also help melt any remaining ice inside the drain.
Finally, pour some more boiled water (without the addition of salt) down the drain to wash out the baking soda, salt, and vinegar, and to ensure that the washer drain is completely clog-free and thawed.