Our washing machine is nearly 18 years old (bought in early 1992). My wife is convinced that water is seeping from the bottom of it, which probably means that we have to replace it right away. I suspect that she is right, but I am hoping for some alternate explanation, based on what we saw when we unhooked the hoses and pulled the machine away from the wall:

– There is some leakage from the cap which gives access to the bottom of the U-shaped pipe into which the used water flows from the washing machine when it empties. This leakage is where my wife first noticed water on the floor.

– The side of the washing machine where she found the water on the floor is beside where I found the leakage in the U-shaped outflow pipe. It is also near to the outflow pipe from the set tub, which was leaking last year and we called a plumber in to fix it. So we’ve had water there before.
– When we pulled the machine away, there was some water on the middle area of the floor, but it may have come down from one of the inflow pipes, which was still full when we shut it off and unscrewed the hose, spilling some water on the floor from above.
– After unhooking everything and emptying the hoses, we tilted the washing machine and looked underneath. There was some rust on the outside edges around the bottom, but mostly on the side where water has been spilling from other sources. On the bottom edge farthest from the spilling/leaking water, the rust spots were dry, while on the side where we know there’s water from another source, the rust spots are damp.
– The underside of the machine looked dusty and dry to me, and I would have thought that if there was any seepage, it would be visible on the underside.

But what do I know? I realize that I may be clutching at straws here. However, we’ve had instances of this before, when my wife assumed the worst, and it turned out to be something more manageable. I don’t mind getting on the floor and crawling around, or unscrewing hoses, or getting a plumber in to fix minor leaks (or seal them myself)….. It’s just that I don’t want to buy a new washing machine if I don’t have to (yet), or if the original problem isn’t coming from the washing machine in the first place.

Realizing that you have only my description to work with, what is the advice of people on this list? Must it inevitably be seepage from the washing machine? Is there anything else I should look for? Does actual seepage automatically mean I have to replace the machine (after more than 17 years, I don’t think it’s still under any kind of service warranty), or is this fixable?

As I said, based on past experience, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing what to look for, and not jumping to conclusions. Even if it means asking stupid questions on this list… ;-)

Sounds like the seal around the tub shaft has gone bad. After all, 18yo is a lot of years for a water seal. The seal can be replaced, if you are mechanically oriented.

I might be able to help you. What is the Brand name of your washer. When does it leak or seep, During fill, Agitation, or when spinning out?

It’s a Kenmore (Sears Canada). And yes, it’s top-loading. As to when it leaks/seeps, the short answer is that I don’t know… My wife found water on the floor on Sunday after doing several loads of laundry, and that’s when we started checking things out. The only way to answer your question would be to run the machine, and I’d want containers, mops, towels and newspaper at the ready before I did that. Maybe this weekend…

Various websites show how to take apart the agitator in the centre of the tub. I am able to unlock the top part (in which we put vinegar for the rinse cycle sometimes) and remove it, but there’s nothing obvious or intuitive about how the lower half, at least in terms of taking it apart and replacing the seal.