Washing machine doors have a single purpose in life: to close, preventing water and your laundry from falling out of the drum. When it isn’t doing what it was designed for, it’s safe to say you’re probably panicking a bit; washing machines usually aren’t cheap to replace. Is it broken for good? Unlikely.
If you are having trouble closing the door of your washing machine or it won’t open at all, then let’s pinpoint the problem and fix it.
Washing Machine Door Won’t Close
The problem is simple: either there’s something stuck in the lock latch assembly or it’s broken altogether—the former being the best case scenario. It’s common for people to slam their washing doors closed, increasing the chances of the plastic lock latch assembly breaking. Plastic can break easily, especially if it’s cheap plastic.
If the following exam proves that the lock latch assembly is broken, you’ll be happy to know that it’s actually very easy to replace the lock latch assembly yourself. It shouldn’t take any longer than 10 minutes or so. It really is that fast, and it will save you heaps on a repair bill.
All you need is:
- A screwdriver, Philips-head
- New lock latch assembly
Not every washing machine model uses the same lock latch assembly. To match the right one, get a hold of your washer’s model number. You can use that in your preferred search engine and nabbed the part number for its lock latch assembly. Once you have one, the repairs can begin.
1. Unplug the washer from the electrical outlet.
Warning: You will be examining electrical wires inside the washer. If you leave the washer plugged in, you WILL get an electrical shock. Unplugging the washer will prevent that from happening. Ignore this warning and you will get hurt. You have been warned.
2. Examine the locking mechanism. Can you see any damage such as cracks or broken pieces? Was anything jammed into the lock latch assembly?
3. If there isn’t any apparent damage, reset your washer. This is done by unplugging the washer, which you already have, and plugging it back in. If that does not work, move onto the next step.
4. Surrounding the gasket—the rubber lining around the opening of the washer—is a metal wire. Use your pliers to gently pull it off the gasket.
5. Remove one of the two screws holding the lock latch assembly in place.
6. Pull the gasket back on the side near the locking mechanism. Just behind the gasket you can reach in and grab hold of the mechanism. Hold it in place while you remove the other screw.
7. Pull the mechanism out and disconnect the wire harnesses.
8. Attach the new locking mechanism and work backwards to reassemble the washing machine.
Washing Machine Door Won’t Open
On the other end of the spectrum, you might be having problems with a door that refuses to open. Believe it or not, it could very well be a part of the locking mechanism itself. By understanding common quirks of washing machines, you’ll understand how that’s possible.
There are several components existing within your washing machine, and some of them generate heat. In particular, the washing machine lock can get hot, which causes it to expand and locks the door in place. If you tried opening the door immediately after the washing cycle is complete, there’s a good chance it won’t even budge.
This is an intentional design choice that helps create a better seal. All you can do is wait another minute or two before making another attempt with the door.
Lastly, it’s likely that the washer just hasn’t drained yet. It won’t release its grip on the door until water has been drained entirely. This is to ensure water does not accidentally leak out onto your floor. Until the water has drained completely, you won’t be able to open the door.
If neither of those reasons work for you, unplug the washer from the electrical outlet and wait two minutes. This will reset the washer. Plug it back in and try again.
Bypassing a Washing Machine Lid Lock
For those of you with top loading washing machines, you can bypass the solenoid that completes the circuit. Once the circuit is complete, the washer has the go ahead to start washing clothes. If the lid isn’t locking into place, you can bypass it with a handy trick.
With a magnet or a piece of wood, you can jam the object into the solenoid. This will provide a connection between the lid lock and the solenoid, tricking the washer into thinking it’s okay to start the washing cycle.
How to Release the Door Lock Yourself
You’ve spent more than enough time waiting for your washer to drain and cool off—even gave it a 10 minute break. The washer door still isn’t opening. Now what are you supposed to do? Get a new washer? That’s unlikely. You can try a few methods to encourage the door lock to release.
Up first is the tried and true method: the secret palm strike technique. Having been passed down for generations, you are now the next bearer of this terrible, but powerful technique.
It’s simple: use the palm of your hand to strike the door handle. Now, you don’t have to strike it hard, but it does have to be firm. You aren’t trying to break the door handle, nor are you hitting it with the force of a bug. A quick tap with your palm should help release the lock, if that is the issue.
If you have to keep using this technique, chances are you’ll be replacing the lock latch assembly soon enough.
Using a Wire
This method makes use of a thin wire of some kind—nylon line, trimmer line, even fishing line—to wrap around the door and disengage the lock from the inside. It’s unique to front loader washing machines, specifically models that have a hidden handle. As you pull, the lock is pulled from its bedding and the lock is released. This method has the added benefit of making you feel like a thief.
What you do is feed the line into the spacing between the door and the washer. As you feed it through, you might notice the line can be seen through the door. That’s good! Keep feeding until you have both ends. Pull both ends away from the door handle. The door should disengage easily.
Going in from the Top
For washing machine doors that have handles that stick out, you can still disengage the lock by hand. Instead of using a wire, you release the lock from inside the washer. That means unplugging the washer before you perform this method.
Remove the top of the washing machine. It might be screwed into place; it might not. Lift the top off and take a look inside, specifically where the other end of the handle is. There’s a small, bulbous-shaped metal piece that you can see. Reach in with a screwdriver and push on that. It’s the locking mechanism and pushing on it will disengage the lock.
It’s certainly frustrating to deal with a washing machine door that won’t close or open, for that matter. That’s just the nature of entropy; systems eventually break down. With that said, it does not always mean the washing machine is broken.
Hopefully you were able to solve your problem with the above steps and saved yourself a repair bill from the local repairman. If all else fails, or you aren’t comfortable doing the repairs yourself, by all means have a professional do the work.