If you’re reading this article, you most likely encountered a problem with your washing machine door lock, and no matter what you try you can’t open it. In this article, I’ll show you how to identify the problem leading to the washer door locking, which in turn will give us the right solution to open it.
- Why Is My Whirlpool Washer Door Locked
- How To Unlock A Whirlpool Washer Door
- Whirlpool Washer Door Is Locked – Fault Diagnosis
Why Is My Whirlpool Washer Door Locked
The door being locked is often accompanied by a red flashing light on the front control panel, not always, but this is often the case. This generally indicates the machine is attempting to prevent a spillage or flood situation, or that the machine has not finished its program and the washer is preventing you from placing your hands inside the drum.
To establish the root cause as to why your washer door is locked, we will need to perform a few troubleshooting steps to eliminate each possibility. It could be a faulty door lock or a problem with the washer drainage. Listed below are the most likely causes:
- The program has not finished running
- Faulty door lid switch assembly
- Faulty actuator motor
- A problem with draining or the drain pump itself
- A faulty main control board
Before we get too deep into the mechanical reasons the washer door may be locked, it’s worth us running through the basic program and function checks, as well as attempting to reset the washer. We can do that by working through the steps below on how to unlock a Whirlpool washer
Whirlpool Washer Door is Locked and Won’t Turn On
If the door is locked on your Whirlpool washer and it won’t even start at all, it’s likely due to a power issue. Before you do anything, make sure that the appliance is plugged in. This may sound trivial, but people who unplug their appliances when they’re not in use often forget to plug them in when they want to use them again. You might have not noticed that it’s unplugged if you panicked when you saw that the appliance won’t start.
It’s also worth checking out whether the circuit breaker in your home trip. This can also prevent your washer from starting.
How To Unlock A Whirlpool Washer Door
There are a number of simple steps you can take to prompt the door lock to release, prior to any inspection or assessment of the washer components, so let’s start there.
1. Check The Program Has Finished
The first step is to make sure the wash program has finished. This may seem obvious but it can often be the case that the washer is running part of the draining program before it releases the door lock. If you are familiar with the time it takes for the program to complete, you will have a good idea if it is taking too long. If this is the case, move on to the next step.
2. Deactivate The Control Lock
The control lock is designed to prevent children from changing the settings on the washing machine or playing with it. Once you are happy that the washer program has finished, simply hold down the Control Lock for 3 seconds, this should release the door lock. To identify the Control Lock button look for the padlock or baby symbol. You will hear the lock mechanism release and the door will open.
4. Reset the Washer
You can reset a washing machine just like any other appliance with a reboot. Switch off the washer power at the main outlet, and leave it unplugged for 15 minutes or longer. Then reconnect the machine and switch the appliance back on, and check the door lock mechanism to see if it will open.
3. End Washer Cycle
The next option is to try and reset the program by pressing the End Cycle button, or the Stop button. This can often release the door lock, if it fails try running another short wash program, and when this is complete the door lock should open.
5. Unlock The Door Manually
Finally, if none of the above methods have worked, you may need to unlock the door manually.
- Take a flathead screwdriver and use it to remove a metal strip found at the bottom of the machine. This component is known as the toe panel.
- Once you do this, you’ll be able to reach inside it to find a lever that you’ll need to pull.
- When you pull it, you’ll hear a click.
- The click will signal that the door is no longer locked.
Important: Before attempting this, you will need to check if there is water still inside the drum, as this could cause a leak. If there is you will need to follow the instruction below to manually drain your machine, before manually activating the lock lever.
Draining The Washer Manually
You might have to cancel the cycle and drain your washer for the door to get unlocked. The door will always remain locked while a cycle is in progress or if the washer is not fully drained. That’s why in this case you’ll need to grab a big bucket and do the draining yourself.
Draining a Top-Loading Washing Machine
In case you have a top-loading model, simply disconnect the drain hose from the drain pipe and lower it into the bucket you previously grabbed. The water will flow into the bucket. Empty the bucket and repeat the process until the washer is drained.
Draining a Front-Loading Washing Machine
The process is a bit different for front-loading washers. Place the bucket underneath the drain pump filter. Now start slowly turning the knob on the filter for the water to come out. Empty the bucket once it gets full and repeat the process until you fully drain the washing machine.
Whirlpool Washer Door Is Locked – Fault Diagnosis
After trying all of the standard procedures to release the door switch, you can assume there is a mechanical fault or a problem with one of the washer’s sensors.
1. Door or Lid Switch
The most common reason why the door on your washer is locked will be a faulty door lock assembly (front loading machine) or a defective lid switch (top loading machine). The door lock is a simple device that will lock or unlock the door depending on the sequence of the washing program, and its primary role is to protect the user from floods or the rotating washer drum.
Unfortunately diagnosing the performance of the door lock, will come down to two tests. Checking of the lock assembly is correctly aligned with the latch, it is aligned and still locking, you will need to follow the instruction I have provided below to force the door lock. Then remove and test the switch for continuity using a multimeter.
How to Replace a Faulty Door Lock
Even when the door on your washer is locked and it seems impossible to open it, all you have to do is gently strike it with an open hand in the area where the lock is located. Once you do that a few times, you’ll likely open the door. This won’t mean much if the door lock is defective though. To continue using your washing machine, you’ll need to replace the door lock assembly. Here’s how you can do it.
- Your first step is to ensure that the washing machine is unplugged.
- Grab a screwdriver and remove the screws that secure the top lid on your washer.
- Remove the entire top lid.
- Now take the screwdriver and use it to remove the screws on the door lock assembly.
- Take out the assembly from behind by reaching down from where the top lid was.
- Install the new door lock, secure it with screws, and reassemble your washing machine.
How to Replace a Faulty Lid Switch
If you have a top-loading washing machine, follow the procedure below:
- Your first step is to unplug the washing machine.
- Now take a screwdriver and use it to remove the screws that secure the top lid. Remove the top lid as well.
- After you remove the top lid from your washing machine, you’ll see a small plastic box. That’s the lid switch.
- Use your screwdriver to remove the screws that secure the switch and remove it from the machine.
- Install the new switch and reassemble the washer.
2. Faulty Actuator Motor
The actuator motor may fail during a wash cycle and leave you unable to open the washer door. It is relatively easy to tell if the actuator motor in your Whirlpool washer is defective by listening out for a grinding noise coming from beneath the machine. If the actuator motor fails you will need to replace the component. It is a simple task for any competent DIYer.
How to Test and Replace a Faulty Actuator Motor
- Unplug the washer and position it to allow access to the actuator motor. On most top-loading machines you can access it through the bottom of the washer. For top loaders, you may need to gain rear or side access, depending on the model. Consult your user manual or check out the Whirlpool online manual library.
- Once you have located the actuator motor, first check that the plug connector is firmly in place and that there are no loose wires, that could have been responsible for it not responding
- If you could hear grinding noises coming from the area where the actuator is located then you can be sure it needs replacing. In this situation, go ahead and remove the wire connector and unscrew the actuator.
- Install the new unit and connect the wires. Reassemble the washer and see if the problem is resolved.
- If you are unsure if the actuator is working or not, you can test it for continuity using a multimeter. If it fails you will need to replace it.
You should check out the video below and follow along with the step-by-step instruction on how to replace the actuator motor.
3. Faulty Drain Pump
If your washer is not draining due to a pump failure or clog, it will prevent the door lock from opening to prevent any risk of flooding or leaks. To inspect the pump or drain hoses, you may need to manually drain your washer using the method I explained here.
How to Inspect a Faulty Drain Pump
- Unplug the washer from the main power outlet
- If you have a front-loading Whirlpool washer, you’ll need to remove its back panel, for top loading machines remove the front panel
- Locate the drain pump and inspect the impellers for breakages or restricted movement. It should turn freely like a fan. If there are any signs of damage or restricted movement the drain pump will need replacing.
- If the pump looks functional, you will still need to test the pump motor for continuity using a multimeter
- If there is no sign of current flowing you will need to replace the component, and test if this resolves the problem with the door locking.
4. Defective Control Board
The control board both receives and sends signals from and to various parts of the washing machine. If it fails in any way, it may not be able to send the right signal to the door lock, therefore leaving you unable to open the washer door. You can always check whether the control board is working properly by testing it for continuity.
Testing a Defective Control Board
- To perform the test, you’ll first need to unplug your washing machine.
- The next step is to remove the screws that secure the control panel. You’ll find the board behind the panel.
- Disconnect all the wires connected to this component.
- Set your multimeter to the lowest resistance setting and connect its leads to the terminals of the board.
- In case you get a reading of 0 ohms, the board is working properly.
Watch the video below to find out more information on how to test a defective washer control board.
You may also be interested in reading Whirlpool Washer F5 E3 Error Code | Here’s The Fix
Andy has over 8 years of experience working on residential household appliances, performing diagnostics, and repairs across most major brands. He graduated from the Denver Institute of Technology, is NASTeC certified, and has worked for Mr. Appliance. Andy has contributed to features on major publications including Better Home & Gardens, Family Handyman, and Yahoo.com.