Washing Machine Using Hot When Set to Cold

bradechoNovember 5, 2013

I recently had a strange problem with my Kenmore front loader washing machine from 2006 after we had our hot water heater replaced. My wife did a load of laundry on Cold, and when she took them out the washer it had washed them on hot.

Before anyone says that the hoses on the washer were wrong, don't bother. The installer never even touched them (I was there) and the hotwater heater is installed correctly and the pipes aren't reversed.

The one anomaly was the hot water setting on the hot water heater. Installer set it to "A" which apparently has always been 120 degrees. However, after the installer and his boss came back and consulted the manual, the "Hot" setting on the water heaters thermostat is now 120 degrees and the 4 settings above it are all hotter.

In my case "A" (which is just above "Hot") was 144 degrees when checked with two different thermometers (the plumbers and mine).

When the heater was put on the "Hot" setting the water did cool down to 120 degrees.

Since changing the setting we have not had any problems with our washer. I'm just wondering if the extra hot water could have messed with the solenoids in the washing machine. An appliance tech I had out to check out the washer told me that even when set to cold wash / cold rinse that the front loader still inject a "small" amount of warm water into the soap dispenser to clean it out.

Hot water heater is an AO Smith 40 gallon with a Honeywell thermostat.

Just curious if anyone else ever heard of such a problem.

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Regarding your appliance tech's comment ... it has nothing to directly to do with the detergent dispenser.

The machine presumably has ATC (automatic temperature control), which uses a sensor in the incoming mixed water flow to monitor the temperature. It will turn the hot and/or cold valves on or off as needed to maintain an average target temperature point, even on the cold selection (unless you have a specific tap cold setting which does not use the sensor).

Cold is typically targeted at between 65ðF and 70ðF.àColder wash temps don't dissolve and activate detergent (even liquid detergents must "dissolve"). Warm may be 90ðF to 105ðF. The specific temperatures are determined by the machine's engineering design and software revision on the control board.

That being said, cold rinses are usually tap-cold, water flow only from the cold supply.

Regards to whether the "extra hot water" could have damaged the washer ... surely not.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 5:09PM
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Just trying to figure out why this happened. The hot water heater could be a red herring, but we've never seen a problem with this washer in the 7 years we've had it.

I troubleshoot computers for a living and if something strange like this happened at work, my first reaction would be the user created the problem... but this is my wife, and I'M NOT going to suggest to her that she mis-dialed the washer. That could get me a night on the couch!

Thanks for the input.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 10:34AM
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I know you'll disagree on this being the cause, but ...

It's possible the machine can electrically-reverse the hot and cold valves if it senses the supply hoses are wrong via inability to attain the target ATC temp or sensing hot water flow during (cold) rinse fills. I know for sure that some washers (Maytag Neptune TL, for example) can do that, but am not positive if your machine of question can do it. Takes one cycle for the swap to occur ... i.e. run a cold/cold cycle with the hoses wrong, the machine will figure out the problem and make the swap on the next run.

I have anecdotal evidence (*one* incident of my personal experience) that a similar Whirlpool frontloader of 2006 vintage can do the swap, but I didn't experiment further to confirm it.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 11:20AM
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Are you sure the machine rinsed with hot water? Even if you wash with hot water, after two cold rinses, the clothing should be relatively cool.

Did the load sit in the washer a bit after the cycle completed? The motor on my FL washer is below the wash tub. If I don't empty the washer right away, the heat from the motor can leave the load feeling warm.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 2:03PM
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Might have just been a Gremlin in the electronics.

My Duet once filled and filled during the wash for no reason. I hit and pause and restarted the cycle only to see the washer drain the half full drum of water and continue to wash without ever heating - even though I had set it to 140F. Has not happened again. Gremlin. ;-)


    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 6:15PM
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My friend's was installed with the hot and cold water reversed. She had been using it for months and didn't figure this out until we noticed it.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 6:54PM
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