What Is a Washing Machine Solenoid?

Cindy Quarters

When a washing machine is set to run a wash cycle, the user sets the appropriate temperature for the type of clothing being washed. The water that comes into the washing machine is controlled by the washing machine solenoid. This mechanism reacts to user-controlled settings, allowing the appropriate amount of hot and cold water to enter the machine during a cycle.

The solenoid controls the amounts of hot and cold water that enters the machine during a washing cycle.
The solenoid controls the amounts of hot and cold water that enters the machine during a washing cycle.

During installation, a washing machine is connected to both the cold and hot water lines. Once the machine is in place the taps for these water lines are opened and left on to allow for normal operation. Each line connects to the inlet side of a valve assembly that includes the washing machine solenoid. The valve assembly has one output, which feeds water into the tub if the washing machine.

The washing machine solenoid reacts to user-controlled settings to ensure the proper amount of hot and cold water.
The washing machine solenoid reacts to user-controlled settings to ensure the proper amount of hot and cold water.

When the washer is turned off, the valves are closed and no water enters the tub. When the wash cycle calls for cold water, the solenoid opens the cold valve, and cold water flows from the inlet hose into the washer. If the wash cycle calls for hot water, the solenoid opens the hot valve instead, and hot water flows from the inlet pipe into the washer. When the cycle calls for warm, the washing machine solenoid opens both valves, and a mixture of hot and cold enters the tub simultaneously.

The washing machine solenoid is operated by an electrical signal from the machine. This signal is sent by the machine in response to events in its programming that indicate it is time to add water. After the solenoid receives the message to open a valve, it gives the appropriate valve a physical push that causes it to open. When it is time for the valve to close, the solenoid pulls it shut again.

Sometimes a washing machine will not send the proper temperature water into the tub, or it won’t send any at all. This can be an indicator of several possible issues. The simplest possibility is that the water is turned off at the tap. If both taps are turned on but the water is still not flowing properly, the problem is most likely the washing machine solenoid. One or both of the valves may not be opening when it should or is remaining open when it should be closed, indicating a likelihood that the solenoid needs to be replaced.

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Discussion Comments

anon1001591

It depends on the washing machine you have and what kind of machine you want to replace it with. My machine is 15 years old, and was thinking of replacing it, but the washer equivalent is $1,000. So if I want a comparable machine, I'm going to be spending a lot. I don't want a cheap washer, so I'm going to try to fix the one I have, and at least hope it will last another year or so, because I'm planning on moving and don't want to throw out $2,000 for a W/D set I don't get to use more than a year. No house sale is going to be made or broken due to old appliances!

Raynbow

@spotiche5- If you have a friend who knows how to fix washing machines, you may be able to save money by fixing the solenoid in your old one.

Talentryto

@spotiche5- Unfortunately, you may be better off to shop around and buy a new, inexpensive washing machine if you are trying to save money. Though the solenoid is not too costly, the cost to hire a repairman most likely will make the repair just as expensive as buying a brand new washing machine in my opinion.

Spotiche5

The solenoid in my washing machine recently broke, and I have been thinking about having it repaired. Does anyone have any thoughts about this type of repair job? I would like to know if it is costly to have done. If so, should I just consider buying a new washing machine instead?

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