When your old washer stops in the middle of running and sits there with a big pool of dirty water and clothes, your first reaction may be to panic, grab a bucket (a stiff drink), to call Sears or to start shopping for a new one, but there is a common problem that is very easy to test and fix yourself: the lid switch. My washer is a Kenmore 80 series, but a lot of older washers are designed the same way, so this may apply to yours as well, even if it’s a different brand or model.
There is a point where the lid closes and a little plastic part on the lid pushes down a switch underneath. That switch may have started to come apart or broken inside. The plastic housing on mine was not sealed, but rather glued together and it came apart. You can buy a new switch on eBay for about $10 and it comes with a complete wiring harness, which I’m about to have you destroy on the existing one, but don’t worry, you will easily be able to repair it to it’s original condition yourself.
Unplug the washer, I hope this is obvious. On the instrument panel there are 2 plastic access panels at the ends, about an inch wide, they cover just the front part of the end cap and snap on. They are easy to remove. Under them you will see a screw at the bottom on each side, unscrew these and you will be able to flip the panel back into “service position” giving you access to the circuitry. There is a 3 wire harness that goes from the lid switch to the instrument panel, it should have a hole in the metal frame that either side of the harness clips into, you can follow the wires from the switch with your hands if you are unsure.
You may be able to tell pretty easy if the switch needs replacing, if you can feel it with your hands and tell it’s coming apart, or you can see it’s stuck in the down position, or maybe you just already knew it was giving out and have been slamming the washer door to get it to start back up. Otherwise, if you plug in the washer you can test if the switch is the problem. The wires on the sides of the harness go to the switch, the middle one is connected to the chassis, don’t connect the sides to the middle wire. Use a meter and test pressing the switch or if you don’t have a meter (shame on you) you can try connecting a short insulated wire as a jumper between the 2 sides of the harness that go to the instrument panel, make sure the dial is the correct position and be careful. If the switch isn’t the issue it might be time to do some more research, or consider those other options.
If you’re sure the switch is the issue then you can bypass it until you have a part to replace it. Unplug the washer again, if you plugged it in for testing! Unhook the lower part of the switch wiring harness from the chassis, cut the 2 side wires a few inches from the harness, connect them together and tape them good with electrical tape. The closer the patch is to the harness, the less chance dangling wires will come into the path of the spinning drum, get caught, disconnect and possibly electrocute someone. You can unscrew and remove the lid switch completely at this point and you should have a pretty good idea how to replace it, you will only need to unscrew that middle wire from the chassis to remove what is left of the old harness once you have the replacement part, so go and order one! If you decide to leave the switch bypassed, be careful! Remember what I said about the spliced wires getting caught, be sure they are well insulated and carefully tucked away. Close the lid on the washer when it’s running, don’t open it when the washer is spinning, etc. They installed that switch for a reason, so don’t go doing something stupid. The bypass is a great way to get your laundry done while you wait for the replacement part, but it should be viewed as a temporary measure. If you’re like me and love taking stuff apart and fixing it, have fun and be proud of this hack!