Thursday, November 7, 2013

How To Fix Your Broken Lid Switch On Your Wash Machine

ARG!  It wasn't that long ago when I had a landlord that took care of all the junk that broke down.  Homeownership...  Anyway, our Kenmore 80 Series wash machine stopped working the other day.  Well, not completely.  It would run until it reached the "spin cycle" and stop, leaving the clothes sitting in dirty water.  Checked the hose in back and it was clear.  Looked at the lid switch, which tells the machine that the door is closed, and saw loose plastic.  I could pay $200 for a repair man to come out or fix it myself for $11.  As a new homeowner, I thought this might help others in the same position.

First, unplug the washer so you don't electrocute yourself (the doctor bill would be larger than your repair man bill defeating the purpose of this exercise).  Then pop the plastic covers on the edge of the control panel.

Unscrew the control panel located at the bottom corners.  The cheap screws they used here were all corroded and stripped when I went to remove them.  So, you may have to sweet talk them out.

Gently lift the control panel.  See, this looks manageable.  It's 1908 technology and way less complicated than your cell phone.

Unhook the wire connection by lifting the hook in front and then pull upwards.

On both sides of the control panal, pop the latches using a screwdriver.  On the second one, make sure you hold the back of the machine and rest it against the wall.  You say, "Mike, that's an allen wrench, not a screwdriver."  You are correct, but the only screwdrivers I own all have fat handles for some reason.  I'm sure Crocodile Dundee would have used his knife.  Be creative.

Now, put on a pair of gloves as there are sharp edges.  Lift the cover and place it on carpet/towels/or something soft.  Be careful as it can be heavy and cumbersome.  If you have a dog, this part will startle them the most.

Inside the washer cover near the lid is a grounding wire.  Disconnect it.

This is a closeup of the busted lid switch.  You would think a machine that is full of water and people stick in their damp basements would be designed using non corrosive parts and have higher quality plastic.  But, knowing some engineers, it was probably well designed before the accountants got to it and then had it manufactured by slave labor in some poor developing nation.  But, I digress...

See those two screws on top of the cover?  Remove them.

Back inside the cover, pull out all the wiring.  There are a couple of wire harnesses that will require a screwdriver for removal (or an allen wrench if you feel adventurous).

Use a wrench to squeeze the wire connection on top of the cover and push it through.  This is the final step for removing the old lid switch.

New lid switch.  Sears sold this part for $33 + shipping.  Supply Edge on Amazon ( sold the same part for $7 + shipping.  It ended up being about $11.  For this machine, the lid switch was part #3949238.

Now, we do it all over again, just in reverse.  Take the wire connector from your new lid switch and push it through the bottom of the wash machine cover. 

Fish the wires through the harnesses.  Pull the wires nice and tight.

Line up and screw the lid switch back into place.  See what I mean about fat handled screwdrivers?

Reconnect the ground wire.

Carefully place the cover back on the machine.  Again, be careful as it can be heavy and cumbersome.  First, slide the front under the base using your foot to hold it in place.  Slowly lower it on the base on the sides.  Gently pull the control panel on the back toward you.  Now, you'll probably notice that things don't quite seem right.  On the base of the sides are tabs.  You have to place the tabs through the holes on the bottom of the cover.  It's not difficult, but it can be a little infuriating. 

Place the clasps back into place on the base of the control panel using a screwdriver (allen wrench).  Once this is in, the wash machine should feel as solid as it was before you decided it was a good idea for you to do repair this yourself.

Reconnect the wire connection of the lid switch with the rest of the control panel.

Gently lower the control panel into its original position.  

Screw the control panel back into place.  If your machine is like mine, the screws were all corroded and easily stripped despite never being opened before.  I didn't tighten them all the way so I can remove them again if necessary.  I'll replace them with higher quality screws the next time I'm at the hardware store.    

Put the plastic caps back on.  Pretty nice hand modeling, eh?

If your wash machine is full of stinky water, this is the most beautiful sight.  The spin cycle works again and the water is leaving the drum.  

So, in a half hour, you just saved yourself $190 (About $600 if you were so frustrated and were just going to buy a new one).  You should treat yourself to a nice microbrew tonight.

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