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Cold Water Not Working on a Washing Machine? 7 Fixes

Doing laundry is one of those demanding house chores you wouldn’t survive without. Luckily, a washing machine makes the job a breeze, but what if your washing machine suddenly didn’t work because the cold water isn’t filling?

Cold water not working on a washing machine happens if the water pressure is less than 20psi, the faucet and water inlet screens are blocked, or the cold-water hose is damaged. A defective water inlet valve, safety lid switch, or water level switch can also cause the washer not to fill with water. 

We’ve explained these causes and their fixes in this article. Some issues are easy to troubleshoot, but others may require you to call in a trained washing machine technician. Find out which ones you can resolve and which ones will cost you the services of a professional.

7 Causes and Fixes of Cold Water Not Working on Washing Machine

Before deciding to handwash your dirty linen or call in a professional, exploring the causes and fixes of a washer not filling with cold water could save you the trouble and cost.

Here’s a summary of the 7 causes and fixes of cold water not working on a washing machine:

CauseFix
The home water pressure is too low.Check the cold-water supply hose and call a plumber to resolve water supply issues.
The water inlet valve and faucet screens are clogged.Assess the screens for water sediment and debris, and clean them or replace as needed.
The cold-water inlet valve is defective.Replace the water inlet valve.
The cold-water hose is loose, damaged, or kinked.Straighten a kinked hose. Repair or replace a damaged hose.
The safety lid switch is faulty.Replace the faulty lid switch with a new one.
The water level switch is malfunctioning.Replace the malfunctioning pressure switch with a new one.
The drain hose is wrongly installed, and the washer is siphoning.Follow the installation manual to mount the drain hose.

Read more about these causes and how to fix them in the rest of the article.

1. The Home Water Pressure Is Too Low

The water that goes to your washing machine comes from your home water system. As such, before considering that your washer isn’t filling with cold water because it has issues, you should check the home water pressure. 

According to the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the maximum static water service pressure is 60psi (pounds per square inch) or 414kPa (kilopascal). This pressure range is suitable to operate home appliances and save energy and water wastage at the same time. 

If your home water pressure is a lot lower and goes below 20psi, it may not flow into the washer as it should.

How To Check and Fix Low Home Water Pressure

There are two methods you could use to check the water pressure in your home:

Method 1:

  1. Turn off the water supply to the washer.
  2. Disconnect the cold-water supply hose at the inlet valve and hold it over a sink or bucket.
  3. Turn on the water supply and watch to notice the pressure of the flow. If very little or no water comes out of the hose, then the water pressure is too low.

Method 2:

  1. Shut off the faucets supplying cold water to your washer.
  2. Attach a pressure gauge to the cold-water supply faucet.
  3. Turn on the faucet to the maximum and take the reading. Your reading shouldn’t be lower than 20psi. If so, the pressure is too low to send water into your washing machine.

To resolve the low home water pressure issue, call in a plumber to check if any of the following is the problem:

  • Blocked water pipes.
  • A defective pressure regulator.
  • A closed (tight) water meter valve or primary shutoff valve.
  • Mineral buildup in the pipes or fixtures.
  • Pipe deterioration.
  • Pipe leaks.
  • A shared pipeline with other neighbors.

2. The Water Inlet Valve and Faucet Screens are Clogged

Your machine water inlet hose has screens at the valve and the faucet connection that prevent debris and sediment in the water supply from going into the washer. If the debris clogs the screens, the washer won’t fill with water until you clean the screens.

How To Check and Clean Clogged Valve and Faucet Screens

Follow these steps to check and clean clogged washing machine faucet and inlet valve screens:

  1. Switch off the power and unplug the washing machine from the wall outlet.
  2. Turn off the water supply to the washer.
  3. Pull the washing machine from the wall if needed. Doing this’ll help you work more easily.
  4. Detach the cold-water inlet hose at both the faucet and washer ends using a pair of needle-nose pliers.
  5. Hang the hoses into a bucket or sink to catch any water left in the hose.
  6. Locate the screens in the fittings of the washer and the faucet. These could be made of metal or plastic.
  7. Rinse the screens of any debris. If any dirt is attached to the screens, use a soft brush to get it out. If water sediments are permanently attached to the screens, and it’s hard to remove, replace the screen with a new one, ensuring you get the right type and measurement.
  8. Replace the screens in the faucet and washer fittings and fix back the hose.
  9. Run the washing machine to check if it fills with cold water.

You can watch a demonstration of this process from this quick GE Appliances YouTube video:

3. The Cold-Water Inlet Valve Is Defective

Your washing machine has a water inlet valve that controls water flow into the unit. The water inlet valve needs enough water pressure to function well. So, if you’ve confirmed that the home water pressure is enough and the faucet and inlet valve screens are clean, then the electrical system of the inlet valve could be defective, and you need to replace it.

How To Test and Replace a Defective Water Inlet Valve

Access the cold-water inlet valve at the back of the washing machine and follow these steps to test for continuity and replace it if needed. Depending on your model, you may need to remove both the hot and cold-water valves if they’re in a single assembly.

  1. Switch off the washer power supply and unplug.
  2. Spot the two wires connected to each of the coils (solenoids) of the water inlet valves.
  3. Pull the slip-on connectors that connect the wires to the terminals. Don’t pull the wires themselves. If getting them out proves difficult, use needle-nose pliers.
  4. Inspect the terminals and connectors for corrosion first. If corroded, clean them. If not, proceed to test the valves for continuity. 
  5. Set a multimeter to the lowest setting for ohms of resistance. 
  6. Use each of the multimeter probes to touch each terminal on the valve. If the reading is 500-1500 ohms, the solenoid has continuity, and the washing machine isn’t filling with cold water for other reasons.
  7. If the multimeter reading doesn’t move, the coils are dead, and the valve needs replacement. Call your dealer to purchase the correct valve for your washing machine and fit it back where the old one was. Then run the washer to see if the cold water fills.

You can watch these steps on this RepairClinic YouTube video: 

Call a washing machine technician if you’re unsure you can test and replace the washer inlet valve without causing more damage.

4. The Cold-Water Hose Is Loose, Damaged, or Kinked

Issues with the hose will cause cold water not to flow adequately into the machine. This could happen if the hose is loose, damaged, or twisted. 

How To Fix Washing Machine Cold-Water Hose Issues

  1. Check to ensure the hose is well-connected to the water inlet valve. A loose hose will cause connection issues to other parts of the water connection to the washer, and it could be the reason no water flow is detected. Tighten the loose hose if that’s the case.
  2. Assess the cold-water hose for any twists or damages. A twisted hose will block water flow, while a damaged hose will cause leaks and reduce the water pressure. In both cases, little or no water will get into the washer.

Depending on the case:

  • Pull to straighten a kinked water hose so that water flows smoothly. 
  • If the cold-water hose is damaged, replace it or seal the leak if that’s feasible.

If you’re unsure how to replace a damaged hose or repair it, seek the services of a trained washing machine technician.

5. The Safety Lid Switch Is Faulty

Today’s hi-tech washing machines come with a safety switch that stops the washer from running if the lid is open. If the switch is faulty or stuck in the open position, your washer will assume that the lid is open and won’t run.

How To Check and Fix a Faulty Lid Switch

Follow these steps to check and fix a faulty washing machine lid switch:

  1. Turn off the power to the washer and unplug.
  2. Get the control panel at the top of the washing machine out of the way by removing the holding screws. The screws may be in the rear in some models or covered by plastic end caps in others. If your model has clips instead of screws, use a putty knife to release the panel. Note that all these are possible situations with the Whirlpool washers, the most popular washing machine brand in the US.
  3. Once the screws are out, rotate the panel upwards to open.
  4. Unplug the wire connector and slide the front panel of the washer cabinet toward you to remove. Doing this’ll let you access the lid switch.
  5. Remove the ground screws and the mounting screws to release the switch wire harness from the retainers.
  6. Pull out the lid switch.
  7. Use a multimeter to test the switch for continuity. If there’s continuity, your washer issue may be in a different part.
  8. If there’s no continuity, you’ll need to replace the lid switch. Consult your dealer to purchase the right piece. Follow the reverse process to screw the lid switch and the control panel back into their place.
  9. Run the machine to confirm the cold water is working.

Be sure to call in a trained washing machine technician if you have doubts about performing these steps successfully. 

6. The Water Level Switch is Malfunctioning

Modern washing machines have a pressure-sensitive water level switch (pressure switch) that directs the unit to stop filling when the right water level is reached. 

The water level switch works on an air dome and electricity mechanisms: when water fills the basin, the air in the air tube contracts and sends pressure to the diaphragm in the pressure switch. This sends a signal to the switch, and the water stops filling.

A malfunctioning water level switch will interfere with the washer cycles and can cause overfilling or underfilling. It could also tell the washer that the water is enough, even though there’s no water in the tub.

How To Diagnose and Fix a Malfunctioning Water Level Switch

To assess and replace a malfunctioning water level switch, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the power to the washer and unplug.
  2. Remove the knob on the control panel. You can use a string to help you get it out.
  3. Use a putty knife to release the control panel, or unscrew as the case requires.
  4. Rotate the control panel forward and remove the wire harness from the water level switch. 
  5. Release the clamp holding the pressure tube to the switch and remove the tube.
  6. Test the tube to see if it has cracks, kinks, or damages. Put the tube in a bucket of water with the dipped end closed with your thumb.
  7. Blow into the tube from the other end and notice any bubbles coming through the water. If there are bubbles, the tube has cracks, and you should replace it. If the tube is intact, proceed to test the water level switch.
  8. Turn the water level switch anticlockwise to release it and test it for continuity with a multimeter. If the switch has no continuity, replace it with a new one.
  9. Reconnect the tube and place back the control board.
  10. Reinsert the knob and run the machine. 

Watch these steps in this RepairClinic YouTube video for a visual idea of how to change a malfunctioning water level switch:

As always, seek the services of a trained washing machine technician if these steps seem too complicated for you.

7. The Drain Hose Is Wrongly Installed, the Washer Is Siphoning

A badly installed drain pipe is a rare cause for washing machine cold water not working. However, if the washing machine drain hose is installed too far into the standpipe, the washer could siphon water and never get filled.

How To Fix Wrong Drain Hose Storage

Ensure you or the professional installer strictly follows the drain hose installation instructions on your washer user manual.

Final Thoughts

Doing laundry gets easier with a washing machine, but if your washer isn’t filling with cold water, the laundry chore could get more complicated.

Water issues such as low home water pressure or a broken pipe can cause your washer not to fill. More complex problems like malfunctioned washer parts and fittings could also be responsible for cold water not working on a washing machine.

Following the troubleshooting details in this article could save you time and money for professional service. 

However, if you’re unsure about performing any of the fixes, opt for the professional.

Author

  • Chris Hewitt

    Chris is a Texas-based freelance writer who loves the outdoors and working in his garage. When he's not enjoying the Texas sun, he can be found tinkering with all sorts of things in his workshop.

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