The error message “Empty container” is relatively simple to explain: The dryer runs for 10-30 seconds and then reports that the container is full. However, when checking the container, it turns out to be dry. Nevertheless, the drying process has stopped, and the annoyance is great. The device is usually not that old that it should be broken. So what do you do if the dryer should be up and running again as quickly as possible, but the money for the technician has already been planned differently? This article explains the problem and provides information about which dryers are affected by the problem and how you can get this under control on your own.

The problem

How the error manifests itself is probably known to anyone who has found this article. But why does the dryer have this problem? Everything is due to the lint or fluff of the laundry. Despite the fluff filter and various other precautions, these find their way into the condensation water.

The warm, moist air condenses on the way through the condenser. The lint in the air is deposited on it. The condensed water then runs along with the fluff into the fluff sump. This is a collecting container under the machine that collects the condensed water. For the sake of convenience (i.e., for the customer), this water is now pumped into the upper collecting container using a pump. And this is precisely where the problem lies: Over time, more and more lint is deposited in the lint sump so that in the worst case, the entire sump becomes a kind of sponge. The pump can then only deliver a little water to the top, and the float immediately reports that the lower fluff sump is full. The drying process stops, and the machine displays the familiar error message “Empty container.”

One rightly asks oneself what the lower lint sump has to do with the upper container. Well, the principle behind it is straightforward: As soon as the top container is full, the water overflows and returns to the lower fluff sump via a hose. Typically, both containers, the upper and the lower, are full before the error message appears. In the event of a fault, the pump cannot deliver the water to the top, and only the lower container is full. Secret solved!

The different dryer models

The error message “Empty container” is, therefore, structural and only occurs on models with a water container on top. Of course, if the water tank is on the underside of the device, no pump is required, and the problem does not exist.

The fact is that most of the devices sold today have the waste container on top, as the customer naturally appreciates this convenience. Therefore, not only individual products but entire product lines are affected by this problem. It does not matter whether it is a “normal” tumble dryer, a “self-cleaning” model, a model with or without a heat pump.

As far as we know, this mainly affects models from the BSH Group (Bosch, Siemens, Constructa), but also Bauknecht and Samsung devices. The models reported to us are, for example, models with the designations WT44, WT46, WT47, IQ500, IQ700, IQ790, IQ890, SDC18809.

We currently know five different model types or series, all of which have the problem with a boggy drain pump. These are

  • Condensate dryer without heat pump (BSH)
  • Condensate dryer without heat pump (Bauknecht / Whirlpool)
  • Condensate dryer with heat pump (BSH)
  • Condensation dryer series Siwatherm (BSH)
  • Condenser dryer with rear maintenance flap (BSH, Samsung)

Note: Please write the name and type of your models in the comments. In this way, we can make a list of which dryers can help with which solution. At this point, thank you from our side!

Condensate dryer without heat pump (BSH)

For this model range, cleaning is possible in two different ways:

  • Thorough cleaning by opening the device
  • The cleaning of the sump through a small maintenance shaft

The former may sound complicated, but with the instructions for the error message Empty container: If the container flashes on the tumble dryer, it can be carried out by anyone without any problems.

Both variants promise success, even if the first variant is the longer-term one, as the sump and the pump can be cleaned better. The cleaning light through the maintenance hatch provides quick help for in between.

Dryers that can be cleaned using these two methods include the following models: WT46E102 / xx, WT46E102EE / xx, WT46E305 / xx.

Condensate dryer with heat pump (BSH)

The cleaning of these dryer models is also possible, but not quite as simple, or rather, not as accessible as the models without a heat pump. In these cases, the condensate pump is located on the side of the heat pump and the motor, where the drive belt usually blocks unhindered access.

A wet vacuum cleaner is also an advantage for cleaning, as the condenser can also be rinsed by hand during the cleaning process so that the lint is largely removed.

Tumble dryers that can be cleaned using these two methods are CWK 4 W 360, WT44W161 / 04 (IQ500), WT44W50L / 05 (IQ500), WT44W3V0 (IQ500), WT46w593 (IQ790), WT46W593 / 02 (IQ790).

Condensate dryer series Siwatherm

So far, we have not had a solution for how to approach fluff sumps with the Siwatherm series. Fortunately, our reader Kladno made it and informed us straight away how this works with this dryer model.

As with the heat pump dryers, the pump is also hidden on the side of the motor. According to Kladno, the following steps must then be carried out:

To remove the spring, the white clip (below) must be pulled out. This works best if the clip is pressed down with a screwdriver. Then the spring can be unhooked. When installing, the spring must first be hooked in, and then the clip must be pressed down with a screwdriver. It follows:

  • pull the two plugs (pump and float)
  • pull off the black hose (from the pump)
  • remove the screw from the cover (pump and float)
  • Pull out the holder on the right a little (approx. 5 mm) until the cover can be removed
    (But be careful: There is a locking hook on the top of the holder. It must be lifted slightly so that the holder can be pulled out.)
  • Pull out the cover
  • The pump and float can now be lifted out

In this way, the pump sump can also be successfully cleaned in this series, so that the dryer runs again at the end. Thanks again to Kladno for this description!

Condenser dryer with rear maintenance flap (BSH, Samsung)

The matter is more natural to solve in the case of condenser dryers with a maintenance flap on the back. With these tumble dryers, the pump is accessible from the outside. This is, of course, extremely practical and helps with cleaning. The entrance is on the left rear wall when viewed from the front. A small screw secures access, and two more hidden screws hold the pump and float in place.

Admittedly, this is a very tedious fiddling job, but it makes dismantling the whole machine obsolete.

Tumble dryers that can be cleaned using this method include the following: WTY887, WT48Y790 (IQ890), SDC18809, and WT44W2ECO (IQ 700).

Preventive measures

If the lint sump could be cleaned successfully, the error should no longer occur for some time. What is certain, however, is that the problem with the lint will return, and the error message “Empty container” will appear again. Unfortunately, we cannot provide a final remedy, but the time until it occurs again can be extended. But what can be done here?

On the one hand, it can help to replace the lint filter. Since the plastic usually breaks at the edges after a while, more and more lint finds its way into the lint sump in the long term. Replacing the lint filter can, therefore, increase the time before the problem occurs again.

Tumble dryer without a heat pump
Tumble dryer with heat pump
SIWATHERM tumble dryer
Tumble dryer with rear maintenance hatch
Clean the condenser