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Fix a Slow Filling Washing Machine

These simple fixes will solve the problem 95 percent of the time

FH99JAU_CLOWAS_02-2 washing machine won t fillFamily Handyman
If your clothes washer doesn't fill or fills slowly, check the check the fill valve screen or replace the fill valve. Both are simple fixes.

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Fixes for a slow-filling washing machine

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Photo 1: Check the fill valve screen

Close the water valves and unscrew the hoses from the fill valve. Check the hose ends. Some hoses have screens in them that must be removed and cleaned. Remove the screens from the inside of the fill valve. Use a small screwdriver to pry them out. Scrape them with a pocketknife to remove built-up scale. Rinse the screens in water and reinstall them. Reconnect the hoses. Turn on the water and set the washer to fill. If it still fills slowly, replace the fill valve as shown in Photos 2 – 4.

washing machine won t fill

Photo 2: Release the fill valve

Use a 5/16-in. nut driver to remove the hex head sheet metal screws that hold the valve to the washer.

Caution: Unplug the washing machine!

Photo 3: Open the top

Lift the top of the washer by reaching through the lid and pulling the top toward you and up to disengage it from the metal clips. Then lift the top and tilt it back. Lean the top against the wall or support it with a length of chain or cord to keep it from falling too far back and straining the hinge clips.

Photo 4: Replace the valve

Reach down behind the washer tub and pull out the fill valve. Change the wires from the old valve to the new valve one at a time to ensure correct placement. Use a pliers to loosen the hose clamp and slide it down the hose. Twist the hose off the old valve and onto the new one. Universal fill valves come with a small piece of tubing. To get a tight fit, you may have to slip this over the new valve before reconnecting the old hose. Clamp the hose. Install the new valve by reversing the removal procedures. Connect the water hoses, turn on the water and plug in the washer.

Washing clothes isn’t much fun to begin with. But waiting hours for the tub to fill sure doesn’t help matters any. If water trickles into your washer, if the washing machine won’t fill, or if you’re not getting any water, there’s a 95 percent chance the fill valve screens are plugged or the valve is bad. It’s so easy and cheap to clean screens and replace the valve that even if they don’t solve the problem, you’re only out about $20 and a few minutes, and your washer will probably fill faster anyway.

Here’s a quick way to pinpoint the problem:

  • Turn the timer slightly to start the fill cycle, and listen closely. If you hear buzzing but very little water is entering the machine, chances are good the fill valve or screens are plugged up. Photos 1 – 4 illustrate the repair procedure.
  • If you hear nothing and aren’t getting any water, the electrical part of the fill valve could be broken, or the problem could be in the timer or another electrical component. Without getting into electrical diagnostics, you can still check the fill valve by removing it and taking it to an appliance parts dealer for testing. If the valve is bad, buy a replacement. Otherwise, put it back in and call an appliance repair person.

We’re repairing a belt-drive Kenmore washer. Repair procedures are slightly different for other washers. Here’s a guide to what you’ll find:

  • A large cover plate on the back of the washer (Photo 2) indicates a belt-drive machine. The valve must be removed as shown in the photos.
  • If instead of a large cover plate you find a small cover plate around the valve itself, you most likely have a direct-drive machine. The valve is attached to this small cover plate. Simply remove the cover plate screws to access the valve.
  • Some direct-drive Kenmore and Whirlpool washers have no cover plates. Accessing the fill valve on these machines is a bit more work. You must remove the metal shell that covers the front and sides of the machine to get at the valve.

Heed these words of wisdom before you start:

  • Always unplug the washer before working on it.
  • Close the water valves before removing the hoses. Check the condition of the hoses and replace them if they show any signs of wear. A hose that bursts while you’re out of the house will cause a major mess. Always replace the rubber washers at both ends of the hoses.
  • Flush the hoses before you reconnect them to the washer. This will prevent dislodged debris from clogging the inlet valve or screen.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Nut driver