The water inlet valve on your washing machine is the part that connects the two water hoses to the machine, and it controls the flow of both hot and cold water. A problem with the valve can cause the washer not to fill properly or not fill at all. There is little that you can do to repair the valve itself, but you can clean the two inlet ports to restore full water flow. You can also test the valve to determine whether it has failed. Replacing a bad valve is a simple job and must be done with parts and procedures that are specific to your washing machine model.
How a Water Inlet Valve Works
The water inlet valve has two threaded ports that are connected to hot and cold water hoses at the back of the washing machine. Each port is controlled by a solenoid valve that sends electric power to open and close the flow of hot and cold water based on settings for the wash temperature and signals from the water-level switch. Malfunctions in the water inlet valve can cause a washer to not fill properly, fail to run, or wash at the incorrect water temperature.
Fixing a water inlet valve is a matter of systematically examining the parts until you find the problem. Sometimes the fix will be simply cleaning the filter screens, but it can also require replacement of the entire valve.
Equipment / Tools
- New water inlet valve (if needed)
Disconnect the Washing Machine
Disconnect the washing machine from the power supply and the water supplies before you examine the water inlet valve. Turn off the washer and unplug it from the wall outlet.
Turn off the hot and cold water valves on the house side of the water supply hoses. Set a bucket on the floor to catch water from the supply hoses. Unscrew the washer ends of the supply hoses from the washer, using pliers to loosen the connections, if necessary. Direct the loose end of each hose into the bucket to drain water from the hose.
Check the Filter Screens
Check for clogs in the filter screens in the water inlet valve, which can block water flow. This is a common reason why the valve may malfunction, and the easiest problem to remedy.
Use a flashlight to look inside each of the two hose fitting ports on the water inlet valve—there should be a screen inside the port. Carefully clean the screens if they are dirty. Be careful not to damage the screens, as they cannot be replaced.
Test the Inlet Valve Solenoids
Test the valves for failure if clogged screens is not the problem. Depending on the washer model, you may have to remove either the back or front of the washer cabinet to gain access to the wire connections on the water inlet valve.
Remove the back, top, or front of the cabinet, as appropriate, following directions in the appliance owner's manual. Once you've gained access to the valve, note that two wires are connected to each solenoid; pull them off one at a time and label them so that you can reconnect them correctly.
Set a multimeter (also called a volt-ohm meter) to the "OHM X1" setting and test the solenoids for continuity by touching one tester probe to one of the two terminals on each solenoid. The reading should indicate some resistance. If the reading indicates zero resistance, or infinity (∞), the solenoid is faulty, and the valve must be replaced. Test both solenoids separately; if either is faulty, the entire valve must be replaced.
Replace the Water Inlet Valve (as needed)
Unscrew the fasteners securing the valve to its housing or the back of the washer. Note the color and position of the wires attached to the solenoid, and label them. Disconnect the wires by pulling the plugs apart.
Disconnect the inlet valve from the internal tube (or tubes) that sends water to the tub. This is usually secured with a hose clamp, which you remove with a screwdriver or pliers, depending on the type.
Write down the brand and model number of the washer and, if you can find it, the brand and part number of the water inlet valve. With that information, obtain a replacement valve from an appliance parts dealer.
Install the new valve by reversing the disconnection procedure.
Online appliance parts dealers carry a full selection of parts for appliances of almost any model or age. Shop around for the best prices and shipping rates. The better websites also have video tutorials and other resources for help with making repairs.