A washing machine not filling with water can be a frustrating issue, but several common reasons can explain this problem. Here’s a brief summary of potential causes and how to fix them:
- Water Supply Issues:
- Solution: Check if the water supply valves behind the washing machine are fully open. Make sure there are no kinks or restrictions in the water inlet hoses. Test the water pressure to ensure it’s adequate. If the valves are open and the hoses are clear, consider checking for any water supply disruptions in your area.
- Faulty Water Inlet Valve:
- Solution: The water inlet valve controls the flow of water into the machine. If it’s malfunctioning or clogged, it may not allow water to enter. Inspect the valve for damage or debris and replace it if necessary.
- Clogged Inlet Filters:
- Solution: Washing machines have small mesh filters in the water inlet valve. Over time, these filters can become clogged with debris. Turn off the water supply, disconnect the hoses, and clean or replace the filters.
- Faulty Water Level Pressure Switch:
- Solution: The water level pressure switch is responsible for detecting the water level in the machine. If it’s defective, the machine may not fill properly. Test the switch for continuity using a multimeter and replace it if needed.
- Kinked or Damaged Inlet Hoses:
- Solution: Check the inlet hoses for kinks, bends, or damage. Replace any damaged hoses and ensure that the hoses are not excessively twisted.
- Drain Hose Placement:
- Solution: Ensure that the washing machine’s drain hose is not positioned too low or inserted too far into the drainpipe. This can create a siphoning effect and prevent proper filling. Properly secure the drain hose in an elevated position.
- Pressure Chamber Blockage:
- Solution: Some washing machines have a pressure chamber or air dome that senses water levels. If it’s blocked or malfunctioning, it can affect the water filling process. Check for blockages or replace the pressure chamber if necessary.
- Electronic Control Board Issues:
- Solution: In rare cases, problems with the electronic control board or timer can prevent the machine from filling with water. If all other components check out, consider having a professional technician diagnose and repair the control board.
How to Fix a Washing Machine That Will Not Fill with Water
To fix a washing machine that will not fill with water, start with the easiest checks and then work your way up to the tougher challenges, if you have to. You will be surprised how easy it is to fix the problem sometimes.
If my washer was not filling with water, this is the process I would follow to troubleshoot and fix it:
1. Check the Water Supply Hoses for Kinks
As mentioned, above, a washer is supplied with water using 2 hoses from the back of the unit. If you or someone in your household had moved the washer about, there is a chance of having a water supply hose kinked or even squeezed against a surface, restricting water flow to the washer.
To see if that is the case, pull the washer machine forward (if it is positioned against a wall) in order to access the water supply hoses. Check for kinks and bends in the hoses. If any straighten them up.
Start a short cycle and check if the problem is fixed. If the water supply hoses are not kinked, bent and are not leaking, move on to the next check.
2. Open Shut off Valves Fully
Washing machine shut off valves are the 2 valves at the back of the unit where the 2 water supply hoses are connected. They allow you to turn off water to the washing machine if you need to perform repairs on the unit without turning off water to the entire house.
It is not likely that this is the problem but someone might have turned off one of the valves or even both. If you notice that the washing is not filling with cold water or vice versa, this could be the problem.
A fully opened shut off valve should be turned all the way counterclockwise. Try to turn off the valve and then open it fully. This will also help you determine if the valve is stuck.
Note: Some modern washing machines only have one water supply hose and one shut off valve. If this is the set up you have in your house then you have no reason to worry.
3. Unclog the Water Inlet Valve Filter Screen
Water from the water supply hoses enters the washing machine through the washer inlet valve, which is located at the back of the machine. Two filter screens (1 for each water hose) are usually fitted inside the inlet valve to trap debris and mineral deposits, preventing them from entering the washing machine.
If you use water from a well, or you live in an old house with steel pipes (meaning pipe corrosions in the water), the filter screens can be badly clogged and completely or partially prevent water from filling the washer.
This is how to unclog a washer inlet valve screen:
- Turn off water to the washer at the shut off valve by turning it clockwise.
- Loosen the coupling connecting the water supply hose to the washer inlet valve using a slip-joint pliers. It is good to have a towel to catch the water already in the hose.
- Put the end of the hose in a bucket. You want to check if sufficient water is entering the washer, or if the problem is with the water supply itself. Turn on the shut off valve. If the water pressure entering the bucket is good, then the problem is with the washer. On the other hand, if the water pressure is low, the problem is not with the washer but with the water source. Turn off the shut off valve.
- Pull out the filter screen. With the hose out of the way, you should see the filter screen inside the inlet valve. Grab it with a needle-nose pliers and pull it out. If the filter has not been removed for some time, it will not come out easily. To remove it, grab it with the pliers and wiggle it about as pull it out.
- Clean the filter in a nearby sink. Soaking it in distilled vinegar first might be a good idea. If the filter is in bad condition, you can replace it as well.
- Put the filter back in the washer inlet valve and connect the hose back.
- Turn on the water shut off valve and start a short cycle. Check if the washer will start to fill with water as it should.
If you have done all the above but still the problem is not fixed, one of the parts of the washing machine is faulty and will most likely need to be replaced.
At this point you can decide to call in a professional to help you fix it but if you are confident you can progress on your own. Before opening up the washer, remember to plug it off your from the power outlet to avoid the risk of electrical shock.
4. Test the Water Inlet Valve
In most of the instances, when a washing machine is not filling with water a faulty water inlet valve is usually the culprit. To access this valve, you will need to remove the back panel of the washer.
The valve has solenoids which are electrically powered to open and close the valve, when the signal is sent to it. If one of the valve’s solenoid fails, communication will be lost and the washing machine will not fill with water.
To check if indeed that is the case, you will need to measure for continuity between 2 valve solenoid coils using a multi-meter. If there is no continuity the valve will need to be replaced since you cannot buy the solenoid separately.
To make sure that you are buying the right replacement part, check the model number on the faulty inlet valve and order and exact match.
5. Inspect the Lid Switch/Door Lock
If your top-loading washer is not filling with water, it could be receiving an error code from the lid switch. Usually, a washer will not fill unless the lid is closed.
Before going ahead and replacing the lid switch, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot it. Start by depressing the switch (the protrusion under the lid) with your hand. If it is not faulty, you should hear it click.
The lid switch is usually located under the top of the washer. You will need to remove the cover to access it.
Once you have removed the cover, disconnect the wires from the switch and use a multi-meter to measure for electrical continuity between its terminals. A negative continuity test means the lid switch will need a replacement.
Some people recommending bypassing the lid altogether. You can as well do that but I wouldn’t recommend it.
If you have a front-loading washer, your drum will not fill with water if the door is open. The signal for this information is sent by a door lock. Note that if the door lock is faulty, the washer will not fill with water even when the door is locked.
This lock is normally located on the side of the door (opposite from the hinge). To access the door lock, you will first need to remove the washer door gasket.
Again, measure for electrical continuity between its terminals. If the test concludes the door lock is faulty go ahead and replace it.
A faulty lid switch will also prevent a washer from draining. For more information on that check out this post.
6. Check the Water Level Switch
A water level switch basically controls the level of water in the tub. If this switch is faulty, the washer will not fill with water at all, or it will not fill all the way.
The washing machine water level switch is connected to a small tube connected to the side of the unit. As the water fills the tub/drum, the pressure in the tube increases as well.
When sufficient water has filled the washer, the pressure in the tube causes the water level switch to cut off the voltage to the inlet valve, which in return shuts off the water flowing to the tub. A malfunctioned water level switch will cause the inlet valve to shut off prematurely or not open at all and the washing machine will not fill with water.
Use your multimeter to check for continuity in the water level switch. Buy a replacement if the continuity test is negative.
7. Test the Water Temperature Switch
Some washer models are fitted with a temperature control switch that regulates the temperature of the water during the wash and rinse cycles. This switch sends signals to the water inlet valve to open and close to let in the right amounts of cold and hot water.
A fault in the water temperature switch will have the washer not filling with any water, or not filling all the way. Get hold of your washing machine schematic and identify the location of this switch in order to test.
Check for faults using a multi-meter. Replace it if you find a negative electrical continuity test.
8. Replace a Faulty Timer/Electronic Control
A washing machine’s timer or electronic control determines when and for how long the inlet valve is opened by sending precise electrical signals to it. The timer is powered by a timer motor and has several electrical contacts run by a CAM assembly.
Unless you have a lot of experience fixing washers, you will need to get you washer model’s schematic to locate this timer. The schematic can be found on the manufacturer’s website.
Again, check for electrical continuity using a multimeter and if you indeed find out that it is faulty order a matching replacement.
Please note that some washers have a control board instead of a timer. Troubleshooting a control board is not that easy, but you can check for signs of burning.
Related article: Washer not spinning.