Go with the flow.
July 17, 2010 10:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking to control the flow to the hot/cold water inputs into my washer, with a twist.

So, my washer's temperature selection switch is on the fritz. What's worse is that it appears to be "randomly" selecting which water valve it takes the water in from, depending on which temperature is specified, i.e., if I have it set to a cold wash, for half of my washes, the water is cold, for the other half, it is hot.

I've already verified that the incoming water valves are functioning properly, and furthermore, I've isolated the issue to be completely internal to the washer. At this point, the washer is not worth fixing for something this minor.

What I am looking for, however, is some sort of selector valve V that can do the following: If V is set to "1," input 1 to V goes to both outputs 1 and 2, while input 2 does not. If V is set to "2," input 2 to V goes to both outputs 1 and 2, while input 1 does not. If V is set to "bypass," input 1 goes to output 1, and input 2 goes to output 2. Something along the lines of the following image:


I can make this using component parts, but I'm looking for something that does the whole thing in one shot, basically, a mux/demux. Something I can pickup at ACE, Home Depot or Lowe's. What would this be called?

posted by aflores to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
How about a single-lever shower valve, Y'd into both washer inputs?
posted by TruncatedTiller at 11:06 AM on July 17, 2010

The part I don't understand is why you would need the "bypass" function since you can't trust the washer to differentiate at the right time. I would simply install a laundry tub mixing faucet with a hose bib connection on the end. Add a hose-splitter to the end of it. Connect the washing machine hoses to the splitter. When you want a hot water wash, turn on the hot side of the faucet; cold water wash turn on the cold side. Crack each side a little for warm. The washer can decide which side to be taking the water from.
posted by Old Geezer at 12:14 PM on July 17, 2010

Depending on the make/model of the washer it might not be as expensive to fix as you think. It sounds like one of the controller boards is on the fritz. They're not that hard to replace. Most are up in the back portion of the case. Access to them isn't all that difficult. And it doesn't take more than a screwdriver and some pliers to fix most things in there.

I'd be more concerned about it. The circuits that control the water input are important. They're the thing that controls water getting into it. Combined with a level sensor, they're in charge of making sure your washer doesn't overflow. Think about it. If the board really acts up you could be facing a BIG problem with water damage.

Or just wash everything with cold water. That you could do by plugging both hoses into the cold water line. Just use a metal (NOT PLASTIC) garden hose tee fitting. Most modern detergents work just as well with cold water alone.

Don't waste your time screwing with a Rube Goldberg solution, lookup the parts costs first and do it right.
posted by wkearney99 at 12:27 PM on July 17, 2010

I am not a plumber, but I'm a mechanical engineer and an avid tinkerer.

I agree with wkearney99 that it may be prudent to look into replacing the controller board to avoid an overflow. The solenoid valves that select individual water streams are easy to replace as well.

That said, if you are intent on sidestepping the controller and/or solenoid valves you can accomplish your desired end with a 3-way ball valve and a Y-adapter. In this case the Y-adapter would be acting like a splitter.

The 3-way ball valve would be connected with hot and cold on the opposing branches. That is the left and right branches of the top of a capital letter T) and the outlet of the 3-way valve, the vertical stroke of a capital letter T could be connected as the outlet. The outlet would go to the single branch feeding the Y-adapter. Then both outlets of the splitter would be connected to your washing machine.
posted by KevCed at 12:58 PM on July 17, 2010

Response by poster: The washer is a basic two-switch design - one specifies the size of the load, while the other specifies temperature. There's a *possibility* that it's the controller, but the water levels have all been consistent, relative to the the "load" switch, and the washer appears to be hitting all of the cycles consistently. The issue seems to lie with the "temperature" switch.

Making things a little more complicated is that I'm buying a new HE washer in November, so I'm not necessarily in the "make it right"-mode of thinking right now. I just want to "make it work," and the easiest (or, quickest) way for me to get at this problem is to solve it with something like the aforementioned valve.

I already have a temporary fix in place along the lines of wkearney99's solution of just running cold water to both inputs. But, I'm actually curious if something like the aforementioned valve exists, and if it is somewhat common.
posted by aflores at 1:35 PM on July 17, 2010

I don't think it's common because this functionality is meant to be included in your washer. A 3-way ball valve and tee will accomplish your objective for about $40. I also like the cold water to both inputs idea. Good luck!
posted by KevCed at 9:11 PM on July 19, 2010

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