Empty your drum and reset your machine with ease

The F21 error is one of the most common problems you’ll encounter if you have a Whirlpool washing machine. It indicates the machine can’t drain the water in the drum completely. Luckily, this is typically easy to diagnose and fix. Inspect your hose, unkink it, and then check for blockages. Then, check the drain filter. This should solve almost all F21 error codes, which we’ll cover here in detail.

Things You Should Know

  • An F21 error on your Whirlpool washer means there’s a draining problem.
  • The problem is likely related to the drain hose, so remove any kinks or knots and check the hose for blockages.
  • If the hose is fine but the F21 error continues, call a pro to inspect the drain pump.

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Section 1 of 3:

What does F21 mean?

  1. The drain hose is the thicker hose that comes out of the back of the machine and feeds into the sink or drain. When the machine signals it's time to empty the drum, a drain pump turns on, and the soapy water is dumped out. The F21 error indicates that there’s an error somewhere within this draining system and your Whirlpool machine is either struggling or incapable of dumping the water.[1]
    • The F21 code is one of the most common error codes you’ll run into if you own a Whirlpool machine. It’s also usually one of the easiest codes to fix, so don’t worry!
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Section 2 of 3:

Fixing F21 Errors

  1. Press “Pause/Cancel” twice to turn the cycle off. Then, shut the power to the machine off. If you have access to the outlet, just unplug the machine. If your machine is tucked tight in a corner, flip the fuse on the circuit box to cut the power.[2]
  2. Locate the drain hose where it comes out of the back of the machine. Follow it all the way to the sink or drain where it lets the water out. If there are any kinks, knots, or bends in the hose, smooth them out by hand and readjust the hose so that it runs smoothly to your drain.[3]
    • The hose cannot have any knots or kinks. The water won’t be able to flow freely if there are, and the Whirlpool will automatically shut down if the water isn’t emptying out correctly.
    • If the hose is frozen, just let it thaw organically. The only way a hose freezes is if the room is freezing, so either move your machine orwinterize the room.
  3. If the drain hose is too high or too low, the water won’t be able to drain at the proper speed. Whirlpool washer hoses must sit at least 39 inches (99 cm) off of the ground and no higher than 96 inches (240 cm) off of the ground. Make any adjustments as needed.[4]
  4. If your drain hose leads into a sink, measure the distance from the edge of the top of the sink to the bottom of the hose. If it’s less than 4.5 inches (11 cm), you’re good to go. If it’s lower than that, adjust the fasteners holding the hose in place so that the hose sits higher up.[5]
    • Water drains pretty quickly from the machine. If the hose is too low, the sink will fill with water and eventually reach the drain. This can cause it to siphon back into the drum and trigger the F21 error.
  5. Unclip the fasteners holding the hose in place. Then, pull the hose out of the machine and shine a flashlight down it to check for blockages. If something is stuck in the hose, use a drain auger or wire coat hanger to remove it. Then, flush the hose with water to confirm the water is flowing freely through it.[6]
    • Reinstall the hose when you’re done.
  6. Locate the panel at the base of the washer. Gently pry it out and remove the panel. Look for a circular container on the right side of the revealed area. This is your drain filter. Twist it counterclockwise and remove it from the machine. Rinse the filter under cold water and remove any chunks of lint or debris before reinstalling the filter to clean it.[7]
    • The drain filter is designed to keep dirt out of the drain hose. But if it has been a few hundred washes since you last cleaned the filter, it may have accumulated a lot of debris. This debris can keep the washer from draining correctly.
  7. Your Whirlpool will run a fresh diagnostic cycle once you power the machine back on. So, if F21 doesn’t reappear, you should be in the clear. Select your cycle again and run it. If there’s still water in the drum from the F21 error, it should drain immediately before your cycle starts.[8]
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About This Article

Eric McClure
Co-authored by:
wikiHow Staff Writer
This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Eric McClure. Eric McClure is an editing fellow at wikiHow where he has been editing, researching, and creating content since 2019. A former educator and poet, his work has appeared in Carcinogenic Poetry, Shot Glass Journal, Prairie Margins, and The Rusty Nail. His digital chapbook, The Internet, was also published in TL;DR Magazine. He was the winner of the Paul Carroll award for outstanding achievement in creative writing in 2014, and he was a featured reader at the Poetry Foundation’s Open Door Reading Series in 2015. Eric holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an MEd in secondary education from DePaul University.
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Co-authors: 5
Updated: December 3, 2023
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