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How to Bypass the Washing Machine Water Level Sensor

Updated
Overriding your washing machine’s settings can result in cleaner clothes.

High-efficiency washing machines use less water which saves you money. In general, this still cleans your clothes well, but there are rare cases where it just doesn’t use enough water.

If you’re wondering how to bypass the washing machine’s water level sensor, we can show you exactly how to do this. Doing so will prompt your machine to use more water, resulting in more effective cleaning.

We’ll share the best hacks for bypassing this sensor so that your clothes are spotless and stain-free.

How to Bypass Your Washing Machine's Water Level Sensor

  1. Run your clothes through a rinse cycle before the wash cycle.
  2. Since water is heavy, this will prompt the machine to detect a larger load than you actually have.
  3. Instead of doing a rinse cycle, simply add 2-4 cups of water to the drum with your laundry before the cycle. Wait 15 minutes before beginning the cycle.


How Does a Washing Machine Sense the Water Level?

Washing machines use air pressure to sense the water level.

The washing machine usually has a pressure switch. As the water fills into the drum, the air in the pressure tube becomes pressurized and trapped. This pressure signals the pressure switch to notify it that the water level has increased.

Some machines have one level, some have two, and others have three. These sensors identify a minimum and maximum level for various cycles to ensure the appropriate amount of water depending on your laundry load.

This auto-sensing technology usually works out pretty well, but it can malfunction. Typically, it malfunctions in the sense that the machine overflows. But in other cases, it might not fill up enough to clean your clothes efficiently.

Why Do HE Washers Use So Little Water?

HE washers are designed to use less energy and water to clean clothes. They save you money in the long run, plus they’re kinder to the environment.

These machines use a shallow pool of water, plus a tumbling feature or impeller, to wash your clothes.

While there are many benefits to high-efficiency washing machines, they also have some drawbacks. For instance, they can result in uneven cleaning. The machines are very gentle on clothes and, therefore, might miss spots. The little water also means that it might not dampen or rinse clothes well enough to be thoroughly cleaned.

This could be the reason why you are desperate to know how to bypass the washing machine’s water level sensor.

How to Bypass Washing Machine Water Level Sensor

There are a few ways you can increase the water level in your HE machine. It’s a good idea to contact the manufacturer first, in case they have a preferred method or expert advice.

For instance, Samsung, GE, Maytag, and LG, might all have different methods for fixing sensor issues.

Add More Water

The first (and easiest) hack you should try when bypassing the washing machine’s water level sensor is to add more water.

Since water is heavy, all you need to do is soak your laundry load in the water. You can do this by putting it through a rinse cycle before the wash cycle.

You could also simply add 2-4 cups of water to the laundry load and let it sit for 15 minutes before starting the cycle. The extra weight should prompt the machine to release more water, resulting in more efficient cleaning of your clothes.

Install a Water Hose

This is a more complex method, but it’s still simple enough for most folks. Make sure you buy a splitter with a screw in the main channel. You will need it so that the splitter is screwed on tight.

Start by turning off the water supply to your machine. Connect a splitter to the water pipe that you use for your machine. Most machines use a cold-water supply. Screw the splitter into the water supply securely. Then connect the wash cycle hose to one of the openings via your splitter.

Next, connect the hose to the third channel of your splitter. As the washing machine fills with water, open the valve, so that the water comes through the hose. This will add extra water without messing around with the machine. It won’t void your warranty either.

Please Note

This method only works for a top load washing machine, and not for front loaders.

Pressure Switch Adjustment

Before starting this option, just note that it won’t work if your washing machine drain is lower than the maximum water level line. All the water will just waste into the drain.

However, if that isn’t an issue for you, you can try this method.

Open the control panel on your washing machine. You will find the pressure switch behind the water level switch. This switch has a factory screw sealed over it. This presses the switch against a spring-loaded disc.

You’ll want to tighten this with a screwdriver so that the disc goes further inward. This allows the maximum water level to increase.

Extra Rinse Cycle

The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to go through the tricks above. Some washing machines have the option to add an extra rinse cycle. What’s even handier is that many machines give you the option to actually choose your desired water level.

This is a more manual option that you need to employ every wash cycle, but it’s easy!

Try turning on an extra rinse cycle and opting for the maximum amount of water. This alone should be sufficient to ensure that it adds enough water to clean and rinse your clothes properly.

Why Is My Washing Machine Water Level Sensor Not Working?

If you find that your machine isn’t filling with enough water or not draining correctly, there may be an issue with the water level sensor. It’s important to troubleshoot these issues first before trying to override the washing machine water level. You don’t want to end up creating more issues.

Washing Machine Not Filling With Enough Water

A broken water level sensor can result in an insufficient amount of water in the drum. You should check if there is an issue with the water level switch itself.

You may need an electrician or certified repair person to do this. However, if you have some electrical knowledge, you could try this yourself.

Before getting started, turn off and unplug your washing machine, so there’s no risk of electrical shock.

Use your multimeter for this task. Find the wires that run from each terminal to the switch in the circuit, then disconnect them.

Test for continuity in pairs for the three terminals. To do this, touch the probes to terminals one and two. Then one and three, followed by two and three. There shouldn’t be continuity between two pairs, but one pair should have continuity.

If you do get continuity between the other pairs, the switch itself is faulty, and you need to replace it.

There may be nothing wrong with the switch, and your machine still isn’t filling with enough water. In that case, there are a few other hacks you can try:

  • Check the water inlet valve: On a water inlet valve, you’ll find screens that prevent debris from getting into your machine. Check that the screens are not clogged or dirty. You can remove them and clean them with soapy water, which can instantly fix your low water problem.
  • Water pressure problem: You may not have enough water pressure. Your inlet valve requires at least 20 psi to work correctly. Check that you have enough water pressure. If not, you may need to contact a plumber.

Washing Machine Not Draining

If your washing machine isn’t draining correctly, there’s most likely an issue with your drain hose. It could be that the hose is clogged or bent. First, check for clogs and remove it if there are any present. After that, adjust the hose to make sure that it isn’t kinked. Your machine should drain properly immediately.

If that doesn’t work, here are some other things you can try:

  • Test the lid switch assembly: For a top-load washing machine, the water will only drain if the lid is closed securely. Try pushing down on the lid manually to see if the machine spins and drains. If that works, then you can try extending the stem on the lid so that it presses the switch. However, you may need a new lid switch.
  • Dirty coin trap: Some washing machines have a coin trap that catches debris in your machine so that they don’t drain away. Clean out the coin trap in your machine. It could instantly fix your drainage problems.
  • Water level sensor: Again, there could be an issue with the water level sensor, so check it with a multimeter.

Contact the manufacturer if none of the above works and your machine is still not draining properly. They may send a repair person to examine and fix your washing machine. It might even be covered by the warranty!

FAQs

Can You Remove a Washing Machine Sensor?

Yes, but it needs to be replaced. Don’t remove the sensor in an attempt to override the washing machine water level. You should only follow these instructions if you plan to do a sensor replacement.

Use a screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the switch in place. Slowly pull the switch upwards and out. Note that some switches are secured with electrical wires, so you will have to disconnect these before pulling the switch from the machine. Most are color-coded, so you can easily reconnect them later.

Other machines use a socket to connect the switch. In this case, you can gently pull the switch out of the machine.

How Do You Adjust the Balance on a Washing Machine?

You may not need to bypass the washing machine’s water level sensor at all. You could have inadequate drainage due to your drum load being off balance. Your machine then has trouble with load sensing and rebalancing. This can result in longer cycles and extremely damp clothes.

To rebalance the loads, the easiest way to do this is to make sure that you wash similar fabrics together. For instance, putting heavy jeans and light underwear in the same wash can confuse your machine. The jeans will be heavier on one side of the drum, prompting a poor spin cycle for the lighter items. Rather try to wash similar items together.

You should also avoid overloading the washing machine. This can cause unbalanced loads, and your machine might not drain properly. You should fill a machine up to about ¾ full. This leaves room for water and detergent. Your clothes will also come out cleaner as there is enough space for your clothes to have the correct agitation to get it clean.

If your washing machine is literally off-balance and standing crooked in your utility room, you will need to readjust the machine’s feet. The four feet should be firmly on the ground. This is more effective on hard floors rather than carpets.

To readjust, have one person tilt the washing machine up and back while another person turns the feet to raise or lower them. Use a spirit level to check that the machine is balanced correctly.

Can You Bypass the Lid Switch on a Washing Machine?

Lid switches are useful until they malfunction, and then your machine just won’t run a cycle. Thankfully, you can bypass the lid switch on a top loader. Follow this easy hack:

  • Unplug: Turn off and unplug the appliance.
  • Press tabs: Locate the retaining tabs or screws that hold down the lid. Press these tabs inward, or unfasten the screws. Lift out the magnet.
  • Magnet: Place the magnet on top of the washing machine where it would normally connect. This tricks the machine into thinking that the lid is always closed — even if it’s open.
  • Plug machine back in: Shut the lid and plug the washing machine back in. Turn on the appliance and lift the lid. The appliance should keep running if you’ve managed to put the magnet in the right area. If the machine shuts off with the lid open, you will need to reposition the magnet until it works. If the machine runs even with the lid open, you have successfully bypassed the lid switch.

You could also swap out the magnet for a thinner one so that you can keep the lid down, without it creating a gap under your lid.


Bypass for Better Filling

If your washing machine hasn’t been filling or draining well, then knowing how to bypass the washing machine’s water level sensor can help.

You can do this load-by-load by adding some more water to the drum before the cycle starts, or by adding an extra rinse cycle.

Alternatively, you could install a water hose or adjust the pressure switch for a more permanent solution.

However, we recommend contacting your manufacturer if you think there is a fault within the machine. If your appliance is covered by a warranty, you should be able to get a free repair or replacement.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!