I have dabbled in home improvement projects and like giving advice to others on what not to do.
Defining the Problem
I must start this article by disclaiming any particular expertise with washers. But I seem to have stumbled onto something worthwhile in this area. Perhaps it can help you out, too, if your washer is sitting there, mocking you with a tub full of water and almost-clean clothes, doing nothing.
The situation involved the washing machine stopping on its own during the middle of the mid-wash cycle. I was recently faced with this situation not once, but twice, and was fortunate enough to be able to fix the problem both times for about $40. Surprisingly, the repair involved an issue surrounding the lid switch!
Check the Lid Switch First
It turns out that a common reason for the failure of the spin cycle is the failure of what is called a "lid switch." You probably already know that washing machines are designed to stop during the spin cycle if the washer lid is raised. It's an obvious safety precaution and a universal design feature.
But if you think about it, this means a switch is needed to 'tell' the machine that the lid is open. This is the lid switch. It's usually found just under the washer's top, where it can be activated by a small rod on the washer lid, which pushes the switch when the lid is down.
Why Check the Lid Switch?
If you think about it a little more, you realize that this switch takes a lot of abuse. And that makes it prone to fail. If it does, when the machine reaches the spin cycle nothing will happen, since the machine 'thinks' that the lid is open.
Logically, it seems to be a common problem affecting washing machines because of the abuse the switch must absorb, and statistically because both washers that I own suffered the same failure. (Then there's the way the young lady at the appliance store said "Lid switch!" and located the one I needed in about 30 seconds flat. Perhaps that counts as indirect evidence too!)
So if your washer won't finish the load you started, check the lid switch. With the lid open, find the opening through which the rod on the lid will protrude to operate the switch. It will be small, oblong, and located toward the back of the top, toward the part where the lid hinges, but along the side.
The switch should be flush with the bottom of the washer top panel, held there by an internal spring. If it sags down from this flush position, it has failed. Even if it is in the correct position, it may not be working. Push down the switch gently. Can you feel the slight resistance of the spring? Does it spring back crisply into position when you let it go? If not, it has failed.
This mechanical failure of the switch occurred with both my washers. They are both brands manufactured by Whirlpool (I believe!) and have very similar switches. In each case, the body of the switch split in two.
However, it could happen that the switch fails electrically, without the obvious breakage that I saw. This takes only a bit more technical savvy to check—that, and a bit more daring. (Fear not, it's not that bad. Besides, you'll need to do this anyway, if you want to do the repair.)
- First (and as a safety precaution) unplug the washer. This will ensure that there is no possibility that you will shock yourself.
- Next, open the top console. It is secured by two screws at the outer corners, as shown. Keep in mind that these are instructions specific to Whirlpool-type machines; with other corporate "families" the details will presumably vary. (Note that the arrangement shown is for the ultra-cheap "Galaxy" washer; it was slightly different on the "Roper" machine at home, though not greatly so.)
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- Once these screws are removed, the console can be lifted and pivoted back to expose the controls and wiring (see photo below).
- You'll find a plastic connector with three wires near the center of the exposed area. This is the connector to the lid switch; you can use it to check the switch operation if you have a multimeter or continuity tester of some sort. Disconnect the connector, exposing the connector terminals in the bottom part of the connector.
- Now put the probes of your continuity checker, or multimeter—select the lowest 'Ohms' setting, if applicable--on the outer two connector terminals from above, taking care to contact the metal inside the connector body. (The center connector is a ground—as is normal, it is a green wire, as shown in the photo below.)
- With the probes in this position, you should be able to see the switch 'make and break' as you operate it. That is, the meter will indicate continuity when you are not pressing the switch down, and show an open circuit when you let it up again. If it does not do this, then the switch has failed.
(But be careful to check that you are getting true readings! Your probes must stay in contact with metal, and you must have appropriate settings selected on your meter. You must also push the switch down far enough to operate it properly.)
If the switch is bad, you are in luck, because you will be able to replace it yourself and save a service call! But to do so, some more disassembly is needed. The cabinet body is secured to the back of the washer by two stout, brass-colored metal springs, one at each side of the machine (see photo below).
- Using a small slot screwdriver, carefully disengage the near end of the spring from the cabinet's top, lift it clear, and remove the spring, setting it aside. Repeat for the other side.
- Now (and my inner teenager thought this next part was unbearably cool, perhaps because I never suspected that it worked this way) the entire washer cabinet is free to pivot forward, giving great access to the inside of the washer (see photo below).
But you may want to postpone that for one more step because it is convenient at this point to remove the two screws that secure the body of the lid switch to the cabinet top.
- Finally, we are ready for the nitty-gritty: the removal of the lid switch. You've already removed the screws holding it to the cabinet top, but the wiring is clipped to the cabinet top in two places. It's best to gently lift the clip with a slot screwdriver, just enough to slide the wires free. That way you don't have to finagle the clips back into place again later.
- The only other thing you must do is to remove the grounding screw to free the green ground wire. This done, the switch can be pulled free, and you are halfway home.
Whirlpool Part Numbers
A good feature of Whirlpool parts—or so I was told at the appliance store—is that they are good about printing part numbers on parts. Certainly, both switches that I replaced had the part numbers clearly printed on them--simple numeric codes, seven digits if I remember correctly.
If you are buying the parts retail you may not need to know these numbers, since the person at the parts counter will. But if it is desirable to order online, you'll be glad to have that number—it is searchable on the company website, saving you much potential trouble finding the right part.
Once you have the part, installing it is pretty much the reverse of the disassembly process. I'd suggest that it's easier to screw the switch body to the top after you route and secure the wires, as otherwise you may be forced to maneuver them past the switch body, but that is a small point.
One slightly larger point: be sure when you re-install the cabinet to the back that the flange on the front lower edge of the cabinet is securely *underneath* the matching flange on the bottom frame.
The cabinet is secured by its position under the front part of the frame, but on top of the side rails of the frame. If you muff this—as I did, when reassembling the "Galaxy"—you'll go to move the machine and the front part of the cabinet will lift off the frame in a way that will let you know unequivocally that you did it wrong!
It won't break anything—but you'll feel rather foolish if you are like me. And of course you'll have to go back and correct the problem.
But other than those two small tricks, the process is very straightforward.
Did You Fix It?
Once the machine is re-assembled, plug it back in and see if your problem is solved. Odds are, it will be, if you did your diagnosing carefully, since it's quite unlikely to have two simultaneous part failures. If not so, enjoy the feeling of self-sufficiency and the money that you saved.
If not, I'm afraid I can be of no further service—as I said, I have no expertise with washers beyond the experiences I've shared here. You can try user's forums online, where there are discussions in depth on such issues, or you can decide that it's time to bring in a professional. If you do, at least you can tell him that the lid switch is new!
Either way, good luck—and let me know about your adventures in washing machine DIY!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2012 Doc Snow
Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on July 10, 2019:
Waddell on July 09, 2019:
Very good instructions on replacing the ‘lid’ switch. I’m a former service technician for Sears. (Kenmore/Whirlpool). Replaced many lid switches over the years.
Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on May 23, 2019:
So glad it was helpful!
DIYer on May 22, 2019:
Exactly the model washer I have (Galaxy) and exactly the problem with mine! Fixed it and it's working perfectly! Thanks for the pictorial and write-up for this!
Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on April 30, 2019:
Hi, Barbara, and thanks for your question. Sadly, the short answer is that I can't be sure.
It's certainly possible that your Maytag doesn't want to spin because of a failed lid switch, as I describe in this Hub. Let me quote my suggestions for checking it:
"So if your washer won't finish the load you started, check the lid switch. With the lid open, find the opening through which the rod on the lid will protrude to operate the switch. It will be small, oblong, and located toward the back of the top--toward the part where the lid hinges, but along the side.
"The switch should be flush with the bottom of the washer top panel, held there by an internal spring. If it sags down from this flush position, it has failed. Even if it is in the correct position, it may not be working. Push down the switch gently. Can you feel the slight resistance of the spring? Does it spring back crisply into position when you let it go? If not, it has failed."
Inspecting your lid switch as described may allow to confirm that that is the problem. If you still aren't sure, you can try disassembling the washer, to check the switch operation with an electrical multimeter. (How to do the test is also described above.)
But I believe that the details of how to disassemble the machine to gain access to the switch wiring will be a little different with your Maytag than with the Whirlpool family of machines that I've worked on. Does the video you found have anything on that? It wouldn't surprise me to find one out there that shows how it's done.
Hope that helps!
Barbara taylor on April 29, 2019:
I have a Maytag Toploader type 580 - 05. And it does not want to spin the water out. I watched the video on repairing a washer that is not like mine but do you repair this washer the same as you would the one in the video?
Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on June 20, 2018:
I'm not at all familiar with that machine--and, as mentioned in the article, I'm not even a real washing machine technician--I've just learned one good trick to try.
That said, you could try to use trouble-shooting logic. I take it that the indicator lights you mention were not on at this point in the cycle previously, when the machine was working correctly?
If so, then they may offer a clue to the trouble. It is at least possible that there is a switch indicating that the front door is closed, just as in the top-loading machines I've dealt with there is such a switch.
If that switch fails, the machine will 'think' that the door is open, and then it will not fill. It's a safety measure, to avoid flooding your house. See if you can find that switch and verify that it is working correctly, by the same methods mentioned in the article.
Stephen on June 19, 2018:
My eleka washing machine 6800 front open is not washing .
One the water is not coming into it machine.
Two the lights at the front only door and light are active .
Prewash light is not lighting .what could be possible solution?
Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on May 21, 2018:
Sorry, Eric, that one is beyond my knowledge--as stated in the article, I'm pretty much a one-trick pony when it comes to washer repairs.
However, as a general statement, the fact that you can see it 'try' to spin means that it's not a control issue, but a mechanical issue--something like a part out of alignment that's preventing the basket from rotating, even as the motor 'tries.' You can try disassembly to see if you can spot anything like that, but it's quite possible that the blockage is internal to something (like, say, the motor itself).
You have two basic options: call the Maytag guy (we know he's always lonely, right?) or dive in and see if you can figure it out. (You're already clearly making use of internet resources to see what you can learn that way--a sensible thing to do.) The first is the quickest way back to a functioning washer, the second has the dual advantages of potentially saving money and being interesting to do.
(There's also a compromise, in which you buy a new washer to get up and running right away, move the old one to the garage and dive in there, with the idea that you try to sell it later and recoup a bit of money.)
If you do choose to dive in, do exercise caution. Dishwasher repair is not terribly dangerous on the scale of things, but there are opportunities to inflict on yourself electric shock, cuts, or crush or pinch injuries to various body parts, if you act thoughtlessly. Good luck, whatever option you pick!
Eric on May 20, 2018:
My maytag bravo washer want spin. I can see it trying but it just moves back and forth. Do you have any suggestions?
Doc Snow (author) from Camden, South Carolina on December 25, 2017:
Sorry, Cindy, I don't have much for you on that. It can't be the lid switch, as that would not lead to the overfilling that you describe, and that's the only thing I really know how to fix.
However, logic says that there must be some sort of switch that sets when the water level hits its predetermined level (or, often, levels). That switch could take various technological forms, but it would send a signal to the system to do two things: 1) stop filling the unit, and 2) start agitating.