In this section we will discuss how to replace a door lock assembly on a newer front loading washer. We qualify it this way, because the procedure to change the door lock assembly on some older front loading washers is very different from what you will learn here. Specifically we are talking about changing the door lock assembly on Frigidaire Affinity, some Kenmore and GE front loading washers.
First of all let’s discuss exactly what a door lock, or door switch actually does. Front loading washers do not come with a brake mechanism. This makes them more reliable, and less expensive to manufacture. It also means, that when the washer is through spinning, and power is removed from the washer motor, the spin basket will continue to rotate for some time. If the door were not locked, anyone could open the door and put their hand into a washer that is rotating very fast. Obviously this could cause a significant injury. So, the most important thing that a door lock mechanism does is lock the door during spin. And in most cases it also locks the door during the wash cycle.
Some door lock mechanisms use a solenoid, to lock the door, while others use a wax motor. A solenoid is simply an electromechanical device that when energized pulls a plunger, and in this case prevents the door from being opened. A wax motor on the other hand, is a mechanism that has a wax like substance inside it that when heated expands and activates a plunger to lock the door. Wax motors have an advantage over solenoids in that even if there is a power failure, or someone unplugs the washer from the electrical supply, the mechanism will not allow the door to open until the wax has cooled down. By that time the washer spin basket has lost all its kinetic energy, and has stopped spinning. Wax motors also offer an advantage in that they don’t vibrate like electromechanical solenoid sometimes do.
Front loading washer door latch mechanisms also have some extra electrical contacts in them to allow the washer main electronic control board to sense whether or not the doors opened. This prevents water from entering the machine while the clothing is being loaded. Finally, most front loading washer door lock mechanisms have a set of contacts that prevent any power from being applied to the motor in the event that the door is open.
The front loading washer door lock mechanism we are talking about here, part number 131763202, is pretty easy to change. The first thing you need to do is unplug the washer from the electrical supply. Next open the washer door. Now, using a pair of needle nose pliers grab the spring-loaded wire retainer that is around the boot, also known as the door seal, or bellows, and remove it from the washer. Notice the two screws on the right-hand side where the door latch mechanism passes through the front panel to come in contact with the door lock. Rotate a portion of the boot off the lip of the front to gain access to the mechanism. It is not necessary to remove the entire door seal from the front panel. Now using a Philips head screwdriver remove the two stainless steel screws that secure the door lock mechanism to the washer front and pull it out. Now you can remove the three wire connectors from the old defective switch. You do not need to worry about which wire goes where because they are all different sizes.