I recently traded a front-load washer and dryer made by Frigidaire for 24 cans of Lucky beer. This set was reasonably new, but out of warranty. The dryer apparently was working fine, but the washer had given my neighbor problems ever since he bought it.
It would work for a while and then fail for some reason or another. The last time it failed, he was told that it would need a new controller board, at a cost almost as much as a new washer. He decided to buy a new washer and dryer, and he moved the Frigidaire set into the garage. Instead of taking it to the dump, he offered it to me. We hooked the dryer up immediately, and it worked flawlessly, as advertised.
I was busy with other things, so I let the washer sit for a month or so until I had a chance to attempt to repair the controller board. I decided that, since the repair man had determined that the controller was shot, I may have to redesign the board completely instead of paying the price for a new one. I figured that a redesign would be fun and educational and would still cost a fraction of the replacement cost of a new board.
When I finally got around to looking at the washer, I focused on the controller. After removing many screws from a very flimsy chassis, I was able to look at the controller. It looked good. Nothing seemed overheated or damaged. A closer examination of the panel revealed what looked to be a reed switch tucked away in a corner of the panel -- right where the detergent drawer was situated.
I looked at the drawer, but I couldn't see any magnet, or even a place for a magnet. I partially assembled the washer, plugged it in, grabbed a magnet, and applied power. Sure enough, the washer worked. Problem solved. The washer has worked fine ever since. It cost me a few hours of work and $20 for a case of beer.
I was surprised at the simple repair, but I was even more surprised that, when I was finally able to download the service manual, there was no indication that there was supposed to be a magnet anywhere near the detergent tray. There was a switch indicated in the schematic for the drawer, but I don't recall anything about it being a reed switch. The troubleshooting guide did not mention this problem. It did mention that if certain codes came up, then the controller board must be replaced. In this case, it would not have helped.
This entry was submitted by Clint Millett and edited by Rob Spiegel.
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