Washing machine won’t fill with water

This article is for when a washing machine won’t fill with water. It may be that no water is coming in at all, or water comes in at one part of the cycle but not at another. If you’ve come to this article because your washer isn’t filling with water – but it also won’t do anything else either – you need this article – won’t start. If it takes in water but you don’t think it’s taking in enough try here – Is washing machine taking in enough water? Otherwise, read on.

Check the basics first

A common cause of a washing machine not taking in any water is either a kinked fill hose, or the tap becoming faulty (or even accidentally turned off). Some of the easy fit self-tapping taps can become clogged up inside, others can jam inside so you turn it on but unbeknown to you, the valve inside doesn’t turn.

Other causes can be wiring faults, water valve faults, PCBs or pressure system faults. So before looking at anything on the washing machine a good engineer will always check that there is an adequate water supply to the washing machine. This cannot be done by simply checking to see if the tap is turned on because as explained above a tap may be turned on but that does not guarantee water is actually coming through it.

Make sure water is available to the washing machine

  • Carefully pull the washing machine out (What’s the best way to pull a washing machine out?)
  • Examine the fill hose(s) for signs of kinking (Most likely if recently installed or moved out for repair or cleaning)
  • 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 water coming through the hose?

Water-tap If no water comes through the hose, or the flow is very slow, then the fault is in the plumbing. Check your taps. The taps with blue (and red) levers (see photo) commonly go faulty. You think you’ve switched it off or on, but only the plastic lever has moved. It hasn’t actually operated the valve inside the tap.

This is typically caused when the red or blue plastic lever cracks. The valves inside these taps are prone to getting very stiff. This is usually why the plastic levers crack or break. You can usually unscrew and remove the lever, and operate the tap using pliers.

If one of those self plumbing taps that clamp on to the copper water pipes has been fitted then they can get clogged up inside. Especially the hot one. When installed they only pierce a very small hole in the copper pipe. This hole is prone to clogging up. This type of tap can be unscrewed to gain access to clear the hole in the copper pipe.

If this happens to the cold supply turn the main stop tap off first! A blockage inside a hot tap would require more work if the hot water is supplied from a hot water tank.

You would have to turn off the main stop tap, and then then drain the hot water tank (unless you know where the valve is to turn the hot water off in your water cylinder). Think twice before interfering with the plumbing unless you know what you are doing. If anything goes wrong you could be in big trouble. Especially if you have to call out an emergency plumber.

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If there is an adequate water supply available

Filter 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. The filter is 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’s a good water supply and valve filter isn’t blocked

Water Valves 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. These days it’s common to only have 1 or 2 valves.

The solenoids can be tested with a continuity test meter. Ideally take off the wires before testing. Make sure you take a photo first. It is much easier to forget where wires went than you think. Fill valve solenoids have quite a high resistance. If completely open circuit 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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If the drum starts to turn around without any water inside

If instead of filling up with water, the drum starts to turn back and forth like it does on wash there could be a fault on the pressure system. The pressure system is responsible for detecting the levels of water inside the drum.

If it goes faulty it is possible for it to believe that water is already inside the machine. This could explain why it doesn’t take any more water in. But it can also result in the heating element being energised to heat up the phantom water. This can cause serious damage and is a potential fire risk. If you suspect this is happening turn off the washing machine straightaway. (Faults on pressure system)

If water runs into the machine but never fills up in the drum

If you can see or hear water running into the machine but the water level never rises inside the drum it could be siphoning straight out down the drain. Check this article – fills and drains at same time

Only fills on one part of the cycle

If the washing machine fills okay on one section of the cycle but not on another it is worth checking how many valves are fitted. And how many solenoids there are. Each solenoid lets water in at a specific point in the cycle.

Hot and cold fill machines (rare these days) can have either the hot or the cold valves go faulty. If the cold valve went faulty (or the cold water supply had failed) water would go in on wash, but not on rinses.

Another variation might be if water doesn’t get taken in on rinses, but it will go in on the last rinse where it takes down the fabric softener with a different solenoid.

No fill error codes

Error Code 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. So you may be reading this because an error code indicated a filling fault. If so just try to work out why from the advice here.

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54 thoughts on “Washing machine won’t fill with water”

  1. Thanks for the help andy, the pressure switch has 3 wires going into it so probaly single switch which is clicking. I put the quick wash cycle on and as before it fills for about 7 seconds then stops before going through a dryish wash cycle drains what water it has but does not spin. Then comes up with E03, drain fault although there is no water in the machine. Strange

    1. Hmmn. think I might have to bite the bullet, flipping things only just out of warranty as well. Thanks for all your help.

  2. Hi Just to finish this one off. I turned out to be a dodgy heater element confusing the PCB. So a cheap quick fix.

  3. Our washing machine is an older model and seems to only work on it’s rinse cycle (we turn the knob to ‘p’ for rinse) as I can open the detergent door and see water pouring through. However, no water comes through on any other wash option. Any thoughts?

  4. James. I just added a new paragraph to this article, “Washing machine fills only on rinse cycle or specific point in wash cycle” advising about the possibility of older hot and cold fill machines filling OK on parts of the wash cycle but not others. However, it basically just says the fault finding is the same. If the cold valve is letting water in OK then troubleshoot why the hot isn’t using the advice in the article.

  5. Hi, I have an Indesit WIXL 143S which lights up when you switch it on and looks normal. Then when you select the programme and temp and press the programme start button the door clicks locked but nothing else. The water supply is fine. I think it is the solenoids at the water inlets but not sure. Can you advise please?

  6. Hi, iv got a hotpoint aquarius washing machine, i bought it second hand a few months back and it was working perfectly fine. I tried using it monday and I noticed that no water is entering the drum. Its not a problem with the water pipes as far as I know as its being pumped straight out of the outlet pipe. Is there anything I can do to fix it?

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