So you’ve just finished a long wash cycle and it’s time to hang up the clothes or transfer them to a dryer.
But you come to the washing machine and, even though the lock symbol/light is off, the door just won’t open?
Washing machines seem to always pick after the clothes are washed to decide to keep the door locked, which can be incredibly frustrating, but why does this happen and can it be fixed?
There are a few reasons why the door of a washing machine won’t open. The door is designed to unlock after it detects that no water or pressure is in the machine, but if this detection system fails, then the door will stay locked. Much simpler causes can be the lock jamming or the handle or catch of the door actually breaking.
So you can see there are lots of different things to look for. Luckily, once you’ve found the cause, it can sometimes be quite trivial to fix and get your washing machine door open again.
Reasons the Door Might be Stuck
Water in the drum:
The first thing to check when you find your door won’t open is whether or not there is still water in the machine.
If there is then this is potentially the reason for the door not opening (and you wouldn’t necessarily want it open now anyway).
Washing machines usually have doors which detect if there is water in the machine and stay locked if there is.
If this is at the end of the cycle and there should be no water in the drum, then this is a separate issue where the washing machine is unable to drain properly.
This is a good point to check the drain filters as they could be blocked or clogged, meaning the water is sitting in the drum with nowhere to go.
Faulty pressure switch
This is the part which detects whether there is water in the drum and keeps the door locked if so.
Sometimes this can fail and think that the machine is still full of water, preventing you from opening the door.
The door is actually jammed
It is also possible that the door is simply stuck shut due to a mechanical fault, rather than an electronic one.
A common cause of this is a faulty interlock, but it’s also possible that the handles on the washing machine are broken.
These parts of the door are usually made of quite brittle plastic and are quite prone to damage.
It is possible to mess with the lock and potentially manipulate it open but this can also cause a lot more damage in the long run.
This only really applies to top loading washing machines.
These washing machines can still face problems with the door locks, but the problems will be different to front load washers due to the difference in designs.
The hinges on the back of a top load washing machine lid are usually made of metal or plastic and can get worn down and damaged through use.
Plastic hinges are very susceptible to damage in this way. This can mean that the lid won’t swing open properly, preventing you from getting into the machine.
These issues will cause the circuits in the door mechanism to stop working properly.
Again this mainly affects the interlock system, where the machine behaves entirely as normal, but the lock doesn’t open.
This can often happen when the washing machine is being used a lot.
It’s pretty recognisable to spot if this is happening. The door will feel very hot to the touch.
If this is the case then there is likely an overheating of the circuit, causing the lock to remain shut.
So now that you know what to look for in terms of faults and what can cause the washing machine door to stay locked, how can you fix the faults that you do find?
How to Open a Washing Machine Door that’s Stuck
Fortunately, many of the reasons listed above are relatively simple to fix and you’ll be able to get your washing machine door open again pretty quickly.
The biggest thing to remember is never to try and force the door open, as this can cause serious irreparable damage to the washing machine.
Water in the drum
So if you see that there is still water in the drum then the door definitely won’t open.
Before trying anything, lay some towels or a bucket in front of the machine, in case you do get it open with water still in it.
If possible, set your machine to run a spin and drain cycle. This will allow it to drain water and, with any luck, once this is done the door will allow you to open it.
If this doesn’t work and there is still water at the end, then this means that the drainage system in the washing machine is clogged and this can need serious looking at.
Faulty pressure switch
If there’s no water in the machine at the end of a cycle then this should be your next port of call.
If the pressure switch is the cause of the issue, then this is easily fixed.
Turn the washing machine off at the mains and leave it off for 5 – 10 minutes.
This should reset the pressure switch and mean that when the machine is powered back on, the door will be able to open.
There are a couple of things you can do if the door is jammed.
First you can try to manipulate the door open. Always disconnect the washing machine from the mains before attempting this.
If you aren’t able to do anything to the lock in this way, then you’ll need to remove the interlock itself.
This is possible but it’s very easy to do more harm than good in both of these methods. If in doubt here it is best to call an engineer to come and see the machine.
It is possible to replace hinge pins if the damage isn’t too severe. However if it’s heavy damage, then again an engineer will be needed to replace the hinges entirely.
This issue is by far the easiest to fix.
Simply wait until the machine is back to ambient temperature. The issue will usually fix itself in this time and the lock will open.
Regular overheating can cause the entire interlock circuit to blow, which will mean it doesn’t fix itself anymore.
So now you know what causes a washing machine door to stay locked and how to fix it.
In most cases you’ll be able to fix it yourself once you’ve identified the problem, but don’t be afraid to call an engineer, especially if you don’t feel confident in what you’re doing.
It’s always better to have a professional look at it if you’re not sure, in order to avoid heavy costs later on!
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