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How To Test A Washing Machine Inlet Valve Solenoid

Washing machines are equipped with solenoid-controlled valves that regulate the flow of hot and cold water into the machine. These valves are turned on and off by a timer or control board; by varying the length of time each are open, the washer's controlling device can regulate the water temperature inside the drum. That means if one or both of these solenoids fail, the temperature blend could be incorrect and result in water that is too cold or too hot. Fortunately, testing these solenoids is not difficult for the average homeowner who can use basic tools. Below is how you can do it in just a matter of a few minutes:

1. Unplug the washing machine - Before you perform any work on your washing machine, you must unplug it from the electrical outlet. Otherwise, you run a risk of being seriously shocked; solenoid valves can carry well over 100 volts of electricity, which is enough to hurt or even kill.

2. Turn off the water supply - After unplugging the washer, locate the hot and cold water valves leading from your home's plumbing. Turn the valve handles clockwise until they are completely closed.

3. Locate the water inlet valves - After unplugging the washer and cutting off the incoming water supply, carefully pull it away from the wall so you are able to easily access the rear panel. The water inlet valves are easy to find, since they are attached to the ends of the washing machine hoses.

4. Gain access to the water inlet valves - The next step is to remove any access covers or panels that cover the inlet valves; this may involve removing a couple of screws or a slightly more extensive process. Consult the washing machine owners manual for a parts diagram and to see what you need to do to gain access.

5. Remove wire leads to the solenoids - After gaining access to the water inlet valves, take a moment to orient yourself to them. Be sure to notice that both the hot water and cold water solenoids have two pairs of wires each, and these wires are attached by terminal clips. Pull these clips carefully off the terminals with a pair of needle nose pliers, but be sure to label the location of each wire to avoid mis-wiring the terminal.

6. Evaluate the solenoids with a multimeter - Next, set a multimeter to its resistance setting, which is measured in ohms. Touch one lead from the multimeter to a terminal of either the hot or cold valve solenoid, while simultaneously touching the other lead to the other terminal of the same solenoid. If the reading is infinity, then you can be assured the solenoid is bad. Repeat this process for the other solenoid. Any reading that shows resistance in the wire is a good indicator the solenoid is still functional, and you may need to look elsewhere for problems, such as the timer or controller.

If this isn't something you're comfortable completing on your own, don't hesitate to reach out to a professional who offers washing machine repairs.