A common cause of a washing machine not taking any water in is either a kinked fill hose, or the tap becoming faulty whereby you switch it on but the valve inside doesn't turn. Another common cause is the tap getting accidentally switched off and people not realising. Other causes can be wiring faults, water valve faults, PCBs or pressure system faults.
This advice was originally written when most washing machines were hot and cold fill and didn’t produce error codes. So if yours is cold fill only, ignore any references to the hot water valve. This article has now been updated to reflect the fact that these days the vast majority of washing machines should give an error code if they can’t take in water.
No fill error codes
Most washing machines are now controlled by software programmes and produce error codes if they don’t detect the right amount of water has been taken in within a set amount of time. Error codes are different for each brand of washer but the error code for not filling is one of the few usually explained in the instruction book. This is because if it’s caused by a kinked hose or a problem with the water tap a customer can often sort it out themselves. (Need an instruction book? – download instruction book / manual for washing machines and various white goods)
Washing machine making a humming noise when trying to fill?
If the washing machine wont take in any water at all, plus you can hear a humming noise (not normally present), check that both your taps are turned on, or that the water supply hasn’t been cut off in some way. A gentle humming from the back of the washing machine could be the water valves being energised and trying to take water in. This humming noise will normally be obscured by the sound of water rushing in. Don’t confuse any noise with the water pump which may also be humming as they are usually energised when the cycle first starts. This noise may also normally be partially masked by the sound of water rushing in. Before deciding the valves are humming but not letting water in make sure it’s definitely the valves humming.
The first thing to check is that water is available to the washing machine -
- Carefully pull the washing machine out (What's the best way to pull a washing machine out?)
- Turn off the tap(s) supplying the washing machine
- Unscrew the fill hose(s) from the water valve. Have a bucket or bowl and towel ready as there may be a spurt of water at first due to the pressure in the hose. If you get a spray of water coming out that lasts longer than a second or so the tap may not be actually turned off properly, or faulty.
- Hold the hose over a bowl or bucket and switch the tap back on to see if there is a decent supply of water coming through the hose
No adequate water supply coming through the hose?
If no water comes through the hose, or the flow is very slow, then the fault is in the plumbing or there could be a kink somewhere in the hose. If your machine was plumbed in using those self plumbing taps that clamp on to the copper water pipes then they do sometimes get clogged up and need the hole clearing. If this happens to the cold supply it can be achieved by turning the stop tap off first, but if the hot supply is blocked – which is the most likely of the two – then you have to turn off the cold supply and then drain the hot water tank by turning on the hot tap until the water is drained out (unless you know where the valve is to turn the hot water off in your water cylinder).
If your machine is plumbed in using the ubiquitous blue (and red) levers to turn the tap on and off they can commonly go faulty where you think you've switched it off or on but only the plastic lever has moved and it hasn't actually operated the valve inside the tap. This is typically caused when the red or blue plastic lever cracks. You can usually unscrew the lever and operate the tap using pliers.
If there is an adequate water supply available
If water comes through the fill hose at a decent flow rate then next check the filter in the water valve on the washing machine. You can pull it out with a pair of pliers and clean it. However, this will only explain the fault if it is severely blocked up, which is rare. The picture on the left shows a water valve, which could do with cleaning, but is in no way blocked enough to cause any issues. Be careful not to damage the filter with the pliers as they are often delicate and brittle. The pic shows an old Hoover water valve which has a metal filter but the majority of filters now are made of very thin and brittle plastic. If you create a hole in one – even a small hole – it can let grit and dirt through into the water valve and prevent it shutting off properly resulting in possible flooding in the future. Don’t use narrow-nosed pliers, use flat pliers and be gentle with it.
If there is a good water supply and the valve filter isn’t blocked..
The next suspect is a faulty water valve (or solenoid), or maybe a faulty connection. Water valves can have a live supply to them even when not operating so never work on a washing machine when it’s connected to the electricity! The picture on the left shows a typical set of water valves. Again, it’s from a hot and cold fill machine so there are 3, one for hot, cold and fabric conditioner. The solenoids can be tested with a continuity test meter though they have quite a high resistance. If completely open circuit clearly that’s the fault, all valves should have the same reading so you may be able to compare if more than one valve is fitted. If they test out ok, and you can’t see any faulty connections then we’ve tested as far as we can for this article and it’s best to get an engineer in. The only other line of enquiry could be a fault on the pressure system but this could be difficult to diagnose. Read this article for help on how washing machines control water levels
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