Washing machine malfunctions tend to involve problems with the water levels in the unit. Too little water entering the unit can prevent your clothing from washing thoroughly. Excess water can cause your machine to leak out onto the floor. Understanding the potential problems in your top load washing machine can help you make a more informed call to the plumber. This can save both you and the plumber time during the service call.
There are a couple potential problems that can affect a top load washing machine. The solution all traces back to water supply lines, an inlet valve, and a special switch:
Not Enough Water: Inlet Valve
The water for your machine is supplied via two water supply lines -- one hot and one cold-- that attach to the back of the unit. Those supply lines attach directly to a mechanism called a water inlet valve.
When you set the temperature and cycle settings to do your laundry, the controls send an electrical signal to the water inlet valve telling it which supply line to open. The water then passes through the inlet valve to enter the tub of the washing machine.
Hard minerals in your water supply can create a buildup on the inlet valve and restrict its ability to allow water into the basin. If there's a problem with the inlet valve, replacing the valve is better than cleaning it out. There's a small chance the minerals did some structural damage that means the valve still wouldn't work properly even if it were cleaned.
Excess Water: Inlet Valve or Low Water Pressure
Excess water can indicate that the water inlet valve has failed entirely and needs to be replaced. Or the problem could trace back to the fact that the valve requires a certain level of water pressure to trigger its closing. If the inlet valve fails to close, the water from the supply line can keep flowing into the tub and can reach excess or overflowing levels.
There's another mechanism that's supposed to help safeguard against overflows. A pressure switch located on the exterior of the washing machine tub is meant to monitor the water level and trigger a water valve closure if the levels get too high.
Note that it's important you don't attempt to fix the machine yourself if you don't have experience in this area. Water and electricity aren't good mixes for someone trying to learn as they go. For more help and answers to your questions, contact professionals plumbers in your area.