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Slow-Flow Clothes Washer

Q: "Why does our washer fill so slowly?"

Ask This Old House Crew
Photo by Matt Kalinowski

We live in a farmhouse that's well over 100 years old. The washing machine is much newer, but the cold water only dribbles in, so it takes forever and a day for the drum to fill. Is there a simple solution to this?
— Helen, Eden, WI


Richard Trethewey replies: Problems in Eden? I had no idea. What's happening is that the clothes washer inlets are clogged with particles of sand, flakes of rust, and various other contaminants that can creep into any household water supply. Old houses, and those supplied by wells, are particularly prone to this problem, which slowly chokes off the water flow.
First, turn off the hot- and cold-water supply valves and move the washer just enough so you can disconnect the hose connections at the back of the washer. Water will drain out of the hoses as you do this, so have a bath towel or small bucket handy. Now take a look at the filter screen on the washer — that's where the water is being blocked. If you can remove the screen, flush it out in a sink and put it back in place. If the screen doesn't come out, you can suck out the debris with a vacuum cleaner or pick it out with a toothpick. Whatever you do, be careful to leave the screen intact because any debris that gets into the washer itself can eventually damage it. (If the hose ends have filters, clean them also.)
Once the screen on the machine is clear, reconnect both hoses, slide the washer back into place, and turn the water back on. Now run a load. Water should pour, not dribble, into the drum. Watch the hose connections during the next couple of loads and tighten them if you notice any leaks.


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