This story is of a failed washing machine and the convoluted logic required to troubleshoot it. Through extensive experience with this brand of washing machine I know the manufacturer provides excellent repair guides. Nonetheless, this story is of an unforeseeable failure of logic in the manual.
When my Whirlpool washer failed to agitate, I did what any good engineer does -- I checked the repair manual for its troubleshooting charts. You remembered to obtain your repair manual, right? The troubleshooting tree was nicely broken down into appropriate test steps and procedure references. It contained a plethora of details. Wonderful stuff, or so I thought. The charts listed all the usual culprits (power, timer switch, transmission failure, etc.) but notable among the 20-plus tests were several references to the “water level sensor.”
The book said it was, statistically, the most likely cause (listed in five possible solutions as the source of the problem), and specified a failed water level sensor.
I tested the washer cycle, having started my research based solely on my wife's report. When I tested the washer, I found that the washer wasn't filling, at all. Sounds like a bad water level sensor, right? Except that when I checked the water flow schematic in the manual, I found that this control was an open circuit, in that the water fill sensor didn't exert any control over the water fill. Rather, it only sensed the state of fill at critical times, using that status to override the timer and prevent further failure of the system.
It seemed that the simplest test was to fill the washer's tank from an external source, in effect bypassing the valve/inlet assembly, in order to satisfy the sensor. Once I filled the tank, the sensor worked fine, and the washer agitated on cue. The new valve fixed it, and we were back in business.
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