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Washing machine has sluggish water flow

QuestionThe hot water feed to our washing machine seems to be sluggish, and it takes a long time for the washer to fill.

We have no way of telling a plumber what needs fixing. Our soft water tank was recently inspected by the installer and found to be working properly. Any ideas?

AnswerLet's see if we can solve your plumbing mystery. I suspect that we can get to the root of the problem without calling in a plumber and you'll be able to handle it yourself.

I'm just speculating here, but my guess is that the water inlet valve screen is plugged with foreign material, sand, or even rust if you have galvanized pipes. All would restrict water flow into the valve. Start by turning off the hot water supply to the washer, and with a bucket handy, remove the supply line (hose) from the shut-off valve and drain the line into the bucket. Then remove the inlet hose from the water inlet valve on the back of the washer.

With a flashlight look into the water valve and check the inward cone-shaped screen. My guess is that the screen is plugged, so clean it using warm water in a spray bottle and a small soft nonmetallic brush. A little CLR might help loosen the sediment. While you are at it, check the cold side as well. If you are unable to unclog the screen(s), then it's time to replace the water solenoid inlet valve.

Some water valve screens are molded into the inlet valve, depending on the make, model, and year of the washer. Don't attempt to remove these screens—they aren't designed for removal. However, others can be removed for easy clean-out. Use long nose pliers to grab the outside edge of the screen and remove it. This will also allow you to actually rub the inlet side and clean off any debris. You may find it easier to purchase a new screen, most likely from an appliance dealer or directly from the manufacturer.

Another possibility is to check the end of the hose that connects to the shut-off valve to see if there's a screen. If so, it can easily be replaced. Look for a "filter hose washer" at your local home improvement store—sold three to a package, they are very inexpensive.

If a screen is not available for the water inlet valve on the back of the washer, then remove the screen and place filter hose washers at one end of both the hot and cold washer hoses. This may be an inexpensive way to fix the problem without replacing the washer's inlet valve.

Since this is all a guessing game on my part, I am curious to know what you learned after trying these solutions, so please let me know. Your discoveries may help other readers down the road.

Copyright © 2004, 2006, & 2007 LAF/C.R.S., Inc. All rights reserved.
Question answered by Leon A. Frechette.

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C.R.S., Inc. · Spokane, Washington · USA

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