Many Whirlpool washers these days come with a sensing function. When you start a new wash cycle, the cycle begins with the washer sensing the load inside. It can automatically choose an optimal water level based on the number of clothes you’ve put inside.
A Whirlpool washer should only stay in the sensing stage for 2-3 minutes. When it gets stuck on sensing, it’s likely because of a faulty water inlet valve, shift actuator, drive motor, or main control board. A fault at any of those parts can prevent the washer from advancing past the sensing stage.
Diagnosing this issue can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. This guide will show you the affected parts, what they do, how they fail, and what you can do to resolve the issue.
Why Is My Whirlpool Washer Stuck On Sensing?
There are a handful of reasons why your washer won’t progress past its sensing stage.
This section will help you understand each affected part, what it does, and how you can fix it.
Water Inlet Valve
What this part does: The water inlet valve on your Whirlpool washer controls the inflow of all clean water into the machine. It’s a mechanical component with moving parts, and the washer controls its actions electrically.
When you start a new wash cycle, the valve will open and allow water to flow into the drum.
As soon as the drum has enough water inside, the washer will signal the water inlet valve to shut and stop water from coming in. That will prevent the washer from overflowing and flooding your laundry room floor.
What’s likely happening: There’s a likelihood that the washer is taking too long to fill with enough water. It seems to be stuck in Sensing and doesn’t start the wash cycle you selected.
A slow fill could result from a water inlet valve that has failed mechanically or electrically.
Mechanically, the valve could have dirt or corrosion around the valves that prevent them from opening completely. That will delay the filling process.
Besides that, an electrical failure could result in the water inlet valve not receiving enough power to function correctly.
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How to fix it: Unfortunately, the water inlet valve is not repairable. So, you’ll have to replace it with a new one regardless of if it suffers a mechanical or electrical failure.
You can access the valve inside the washer at the back. First, remove the screws that hold it in place, then disconnect the wiring and attached hoses.
Mount the new water inlet valve in the same place and reconnect everything the same way.
What this part does: The shift actuator has several functions. Generally, it helps the washer advance to the next stage of the wash cycle.
Inside your Whirlpool washer, the actuator physically shifts the splutch cam ring when necessary. At the same time, it monitors the position of the splutch to ensure that it’s in the correct position at all times.
The shift actuator also has an optical sensor built into it that monitors the position and speed of the Whirlpool washer’s transmission.
What’s likely happening: When your Whirlpool washer is stuck on sensing, another possibility to consider is that the shift actuator is no longer working. As a result, the washer fails to advance to the next stage in the wash cycle.
The shift actuator fails due to a mechanical or electrical failure.
Mechanically, the actuator’s moving parts might have broken off. That will prevent it from shifting the splutch cam ring.
Electrically, the part might have suffered damage from an electrical fault, like a short circuit or damage from a power surge. In addition, a water leak at the tub seal could cause water to damage the shift actuator.
How to fix it: Whether it fails mechanically or electrically, you’ll have to replace the shift actuator. Before you do that, though, you should inspect the actuator visually and with a multimeter.
Once you confirm that the part is damaged or does not have electrical continuity, you can replace it with a new one.
What this part does: Think of the drive motor as the heart of your Whirlpool washing machine. It uses electricity to generate the power to spin the washer drum in both directions.
While your Whirlpool washer is in the sensing stage, the drive motor will turn the drum occasionally. That will help the washer sense the load inside and adjust the wash cycle accordingly.
What’s likely happening: Your Whirlpool washer is stuck in the sensing stage because there’s a problem with the drive motor. Unfortunately, the motor can also suffer from electrical damage and general wear.
A problematic drive motor can prevent the washer from completing the sensing stage and advancing to subsequent stages of the wash cycle.
Firstly, the drive motor in a Whirlpool washer can experience electrical damage like other components mentioned in this troubleshooting guide. For instance, a short circuit or power surge could damage the motor’s components and prevent them from working correctly.
However, you must also consider the age of your Whirlpool washer. The older the washer is, the higher the likelihood that the motor has simply worn out.
That’s especially true if you’ve overworked the motor repeatedly with heavy laundry loads over the years.
How to fix it: The drive motor is another part that you can only replace because it’s not repairable. However, the motor is a costly part, so you’ll want to inspect it very closely before you decide to get a new one.
Washing machines and their drive motors generally last about 10 years. Depending on the age of your Whirlpool washer, it might also be worth considering a new machine altogether.
Main Control Board
What this part does: While the drive motor is the heart of your Whirlpool washer, the main control board is its brain. It’s a printed circuit board (PCB) loaded with plenty of tiny components, each controlling a different function in your washing machine.
What’s likely happening: When you’ve finished troubleshooting everything else but still can’t find a solution, a failed main control board is the final possibility.
Typically, a problem on the main control board will only affect some of the machine’s functions. So, even though your washer turns on and looks like it’s working at first glance, a fault board could be causing the machine to stay stuck on sensing.
How to fix it: Technically, it is possible to repair only the affected components on the main control board. Unfortunately, not many places provide that expertise, so it’s not the most practical solution.
Once you’re sure that the main control board is to blame, you’ll have to replace it with a new one.
The board has a separate housing inside the washer, so you’ll have to remove it and disconnect all its electrical wires.
Then, you’ll fit the new board into place and reconnect all the wires the same way as before.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are a few more questions and answers to help you troubleshoot your Whirlpool washer that’s stuck on sensing:
How Do I Reset My Whirlpool Cabrio Washer?
The quickest way to reset your Whirlpool Cabrio washer is through power cycling. First, disconnect the washer’s plug from its wall socket. Then, leave the washer alone for 5 minutes before reconnecting that plug.
What Does Resetting A Washing Machine Do?
Resetting a washing machine will clear any electronic faults that might have occurred. Situations like power interruptions and surges, for example, could cause your Whirlpool washing machine to behave in unusual ways. Resetting the machine will help restore regular operation.
How Long Does A Whirlpool Washer Stay On Sensing?
The sensing stage on a Whirlpool washer typically lasts 2-3 minutes. However, the washer might take a little longer to do that, in some cases, so give it a few extra minutes before troubleshooting it for problems.
What Does Sensing Mean On My Washing Machine?
Some washing machine models start the wash cycle with a sensing stage. Its purpose is to allow the washer to measure the load inside. That’s part of the sensing process and should complete within 2-3 minutes.
How Does A Washing Machine Sense Water Level?
A Whirlpool washer senses the volume of water inside using a pressure switch. It’s a mechanical switch connected to an air tube somewhere inside the machine. So as water fills the tub, it’ll cause the air in that tube to trigger the switch when it reaches a particular level.