Washing machines are an indispensable part of our busy lifestyles. We rely on being able to throw in a load of laundry and go on with our day. So when they malfunction, it feels like a disaster!
If your Whirlpool washer door is locked and the light is flashing, there are a few possible causes and fixes. You can try resetting the machine to release the lock or explore several mechanical components that can be the cause. If all else fails, you can pop the door open manually, whether it’s a top-loading or front-loading machine.
With a little home-handy know-how and this expert guide, your washing machine will be back in business in no time. Take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, and prepare to do some problem-solving!
Table of Contents
- Quick Fixes for Locked Doors
- Potential Causes of Locked Doors With Flashing Lights
- To DIY or Not to DIY Your Appliances
- Related Questions
Quick Fixes for Locked Doors
Washing machine doors feature automatic locks to avoid opening the door during a cycle and flooding your house. These locks typically unlock at the end of the cycle, but sometimes malfunctions trap your clothes inside. In other cases, the door may lock because of a mechanical error before the cycle even starts.
If your Whirlpool washer door is locked and won’t open, here are a few simple things to try. These quick fixes can help get your machine back online before delving deeper to find the root of the problem.
Be Patient; the Door May Just Need More Time
In order for the door to disengage, the motor speed must reach zero and give the washing machine a “stop” command. From that point, the door will stay closed for 180 seconds (three minutes).
If the water in the cycle is very hot, it may take an extra few moments for the water to cool and drain. Typically this happens if the water is above 122 degrees Fahrenheit. If your wash cycle stops and takes a few extra minutes to release, don’t fret. Your machine is moving at the pace of its pre-programmed commands and instructions.
Control Lock Button or Manual Reset
Some washers come with a control lock button on their dashboard. If your model has a button like this, press and hold it for three seconds. You should hear the door unlock and be able to retrieve your clothes.
Similarly, the End Cycle or Cancel buttons can function as a manual system reset. Press and hold this button for five seconds to reset the washer. The door should unlatch and release your clothes momentarily.
Unplug the Washing Machine to Reset
If something has really confused your washing machine, it may need a more thorough reboot than a push-button reset.
Unplug your washer from the wall for at least 45 minutes. This will allow your machine to forget any alerts, lights, or error codes. After you plug it back in, you should be able to open the door without resistance.
Potential Causes of Locked Doors With Flashing Lights
There are several possible reasons why your Whirlpool washer door won’t unlock. A flashing light indicates some kind of malfunction, but identifying the underlying issue can take some digging. Here are some possible causes.
Lid or Door Switch
The first thing to check is the door switch. You must close and latch the door before the machine operates. It’s a safety feature, especially on front-loading washers, to make sure water won’t spill out of the machine and onto your floor.
Unfortunately, this safety mechanism can malfunction and keep the door locked even after the cycle has finished. There are a number of ways to disengage this lock, as mentioned above. Once you’ve got the door open, follow these steps to see if the latch itself is the culprit of your malfunction.
Faulty Door Latch?
Inspect the latch and make sure nothing is blocking the connection between the latch and the striker. That’s the part that receives the latch and ensures it’s properly closed.
Make sure the latching mechanism is in proper alignment. The latch and receiver can move over time as the machine shimmies and spins. You may also need to tighten the hinges to bring the door back into alignment.
You can also check for electrical continuity within the latch with a multimeter. But before you do that, be sure to cut the power to the washer by unplugging it or flipping the breaker. Remove the machine’s front panel to access the latch’s electrical component and ensure that proper voltage is present.
This washer’s mechanical component can either go bad or just come loose from the machine’s spinning and shimmying.
Turn off the breaker or unplug the machine before poking around in the electrical wires. You can access the actuator motor from the underside of the machine. First, grab a furniture pad or heavy blanket. Then, make sure the machine is empty of water and lay it onto its side to access the bottom.
Check the wiring going to and coming from the actuator motor. Tighten all of the connections in case they’ve come loose. The rapid spinning of washers and dryers can cause the machine to shimmy, loosening electrical connections. If the wiring is all good, the actuator motor itself might be malfunctioning, and you need to replace it.
The sensor actuator has to do with the machine’s spinning. Following the directions in the Owner’s Manual, get the machine into manual diagnostic mode. Check any diagnostic codes that pop up against the reference list in the owner’s manual. The list may classify some as speed sensor errors and others as shifter errors.
It’s possible that the optical speed sensor is not correctly reading the motor speeds. If that’s true, the washer doesn’t know when the machine stops and therefore doesn’t know when to unlock the door.
Water in the Machine
As a safety precaution against flooding, the washer door will not unlock if water remains in the tub. If you see standing water in the machine, try the spin and drain cycle. Check to see if these cycles empty the water tub and allow it to unlock.
Water can remain in the machine if something is stuck in the drain pump or filter drain. It could be a foreign object, like a sock, that you can remove manually. Otherwise, you may need to clean or replace the drain pump or filter.
To access the drain pump, you’ll need a bucket that can hold 2-3 gallons of water. Find the knob, usually at the machine’s front-center, and unscrew it to let the mechanism drain into the bucket. Check for any foreign material or evidence of debris.
Once the system has been drained, the clog may resolve itself. If not, try cleaning the machine with vinegar and water to dissolve any built-up debris. If this still doesn’t work, you may need to replace the drain pump or filter.
Look for kinks or cracks along the inlet hoses. Any malfunctions here can cause water flow issues and interfere with water level sensors. To examine the hose, first, turn the water supply off.
Remove the hoses with pliers and drain any remaining water into a bucket. Look over the hose, checking for blockages, kinks, or holes in the line. If it’s at all compromised, replace the hose.
Faulty Control Board
This error is less common but can be a culprit nonetheless. If the control board is faulty, the washer cannot detect if the door is open or closed.
Too much or too little voltage can cause Internal malfunctions. They can also result from a hiccup in power or communication from the control board to other mechanical sensors.
Was your washing machine recently installed, reinstalled, or relocated? Sometimes we can forget to reconnect the water line after taking the machine offline for any reason. Whirlpool washing machines are designed not to run without water since it can burn them out.
If you’ve forgotten to reconnect a water source, you need to reset the machine before running a cycle. Reset the machine by pressing the WASH TEMP – SPIN – SOIL buttons in that order, three times in a row. If that combination doesn’t work, try SPIN – SOIL – PRESOAK in that order three times in a row.
If that works, you should see the control panel activate and show an error code. Wait ten minutes: you may hear a humming sound as the machine recalibrates. After that’s done, press the power button to clear and return to standby mode.
To DIY or Not to DIY Your Appliances
It can be incredibly frustrating when home appliances break. They represent one of the most significant financial investments in our kitchens, laundry rooms, and beyond. Being able to do quick fixes on these items is gratifying but not always the easiest option.
Remember what you have in your metaphorical toolbox. The owner’s manual can be your first line of defense. If you’ve lost your paper copy, search for your appliance’s brand and model name online for a PDF version.
But, it’s also essential to learn when it’s time to call the pros. If a project requires electrical work beyond your scope of capability, call a professional. Likewise, if the problem seems bigger than a DIY quick fix, call a repair technician. Make sure they’re licensed and vetted to avoid getting scammed or invalidating your warranty.
Can you manually unlock a front-loading washing machine door?
Yes. Sometimes, no amount of button-pushing or mechanical problem-solving can disengage a locked door. In this case, you can reach inside and unlock the door from the inside. This even works for stackable washer/dryer units.
For a front-loading machine, unplug the machine and pull it away from the wall. Remove the screws at the back of the top panel. Then, pull straight back and up to remove the top panel. Reach down into the machine behind the front panel on the side of the door lock assembly. Locate a small, circular, or teardrop-shaped plastic tab at the bottom of the door lock. Pull down, and the door should release with a click.
How about a top-loading washing machine? Can you unlock that door manually too?
Yes! Start by unplugging the machine and cutting off the water supply. Locate the cover to the drain pump. You can usually find it on the front of the washing machine at the bottom right corner.
There should be one screw holding on this panel. Remove it and open the compartment to reveal a plastic cord hanging from the top. Pulling this cord will disengage the door lock and should allow you to open the washer door.