When a Whirlpool Duet Washer is in operation, it automatically locks the door to prevent anyone from accidentally opening it and spilling water on the floor. However, users have encountered a problem where their washer remains locked after this wash cycle has finished, and they’re not sure how to get it open again.
Needless to say, this is a frustrating problem to deal with as it completely puts the washer out of commission until the problem is dealt with.
So this article will examine in detail all the main reasons why your washer door is locked and give you easy-to-follow steps to get it unlocked so you can get your Whirlpool washer back in working order.
Why Is Your Whirlpool Duet Washer Door Locked?
Under normal operation, the door will only be locked while there is a wash cycle in progress. So if you’ve found that your door remains locked and you can’t open it, it signifies another issue that needs addressing before the locking mechanism can release.
Let’s walk through all the leading causes of this problem so you can better understand what’s happening with your machine.
1. Incomplete Wash Cycle
As mentioned, when there is a wash cycle in progress, the door will lock to prevent you from accidentally opening it and leaking water everywhere.
Something that can often catch people off guard is that they think the wash cycle has stopped and they are unable to open the door when in fact, the wash cycle is still under operation. There are just certain periods when the drum doesn’t need to spin, such as when it drains and re-fills with water.
You can usually tell how much time is left on the current wash cycle by checking the top control panel, which should indicate what stage the wash cycle is on and how many minutes of operation are left.
2 There’s Water Still in the Drum
In some cases, the wash cycle has finished, but water has remained inside the drum for some reason. Several reasons may cause this to happen, such as the drain hose being clogged up or the washer has been overloaded, meaning the clothes may not drain properly and remain saturated with water.
While the underlying reason why water is still in the drum does need to be addressed, you can often fix the problem temporarily by running a drain cycle.
3. Door Lock Malfunctioned
Sometimes the door’s locking mechanism may malfunction due to something like physical obstruction or an electrical issue with the lock. This can cause the washer to not automatically open the door when the cycle is finished.
Depending on how severe the issue is, you can usually just restart the machine, which will be enough to open the lock, but if it’s something more severe, you may need to replace the lock entirely.
4. There’s a Power Problem
If something interrupts the power supply to the washer mid-cycle, it may not always open the lock by itself. When this kind of error occurs, you will need to power cycle the washer in order to completely reset it, which should allow the lock to open.
5. Malfunctioning Control Board
The control board acts as the washer’s brain, sending out commands to the various components to allow the Whirlpool washing machine to function.
So when the control board encounters a problem or error, it can cause the washer to behave strangely and may either lock the door when it doesn’t need to or prevent the door from opening when it should.
Depending on the severity of the problem and its inherent complexity when diagnosing and fixing a control board, the whole board may need to be replaced.
6. Lid Striker Problem
Top-loading washers have their locking mechanism placed on the top of the washer, consisting of a lock and a striker, a small component that physically engages with the lock to secure it.
Sometimes this striker can wear down, become loose or crack due to repeated physical impacts and overuse. This may cause the striker to become stuck and need to be manually pulled out and replaced.
7. The Actuator Motor has Broken Down
The actuator motor is the component that actuates the locking mechanism and pushes the striker into place. If this motor breaks down or fails while the door is locked, the washer won’t be able to unlock itself once the wash cycle has finished.
You’ll need to test the actuator motor for functionality, and if it’s broken, it should be replaced.
How to Fix a Locked Whirlpool Duet Washer?
Now that you better understand what causes the washing machine door to remain locked, we can walk through how to fix each problem and restore your washer back to working order.
1. Wait for the Wash Cycle to Finish
If a wash or spin cycle is currently under operation, the best thing to do is wait for it to finish. Don’t be concerned if the drum isn’t spinning at all times, as it will sometimes need to stop in order to drain the water and re-fill.
If you are curious to know what stage your current cycle is at, you can check the top panel for further details about the current stage and how much time is left on the total wash.
If you absolutely need access to the clothes immediately, you can stop the wash cycle from the top panel, and the door will instantly unlock.
2. Drain the Water
You may find that water still sits in the drum due to being overloaded, and the saturated clothes aren’t able to drain thoroughly; then, you can perform an additional drain cycle to remove the residual water, which will allow the door to open.
To do this, locate the drain filter access panel at the bottom front of the Whirlpool washing machine. Have a bowl or pan ready to catch the water as it drains and place it under the drain filter access.
Using a flathead screwdriver (or a coin also works), turn the filter access knob counterclockwise to loosen it. This will allow the residual water to drain out; once everything’s cleared, it’s a good idea to inspect the filter at this point for any debris or blockages and clean them out as needed.
Reinstall the drain filter access and start the machine back up; the door should now be unlocked.
3. Address the Malfunctioning Door Lock
If the door lock has malfunctioned, it won’t open regardless of whether the wash cycle has finished or not.
- First, unplug the washer from the power supply, wait a few minutes, and then plug it back in to perform a power cycle.
- Check the lock for any signs of damage, such as cracks or wear. If the lock looks damaged, then it should be replaced.
- Check the wiring connections from the door lock to the control board. If you notice any loose wires or corroded connection points that might impede functionality, then these should be repaired as needed.
- Once the problems have been addressed, plug the machine back in and check the lock for functionality.
4. Power Cycle or Manually Release the Lock
If you believe the door lock is malfunctioning due to a power outage, there are 2 primary methods of restoring functionality to the lock.
Wait 2-3 minutes so the residual power held in the capacitors can fully discharge, and then start the machine back up. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, then you will have to manually release the lock using the release cord.
- Ensure the machine is powered off before starting.
- Remove the lower access panel on the front of the washer using a screwdriver.
- Underneath this will be a manual release cord which you need to pull to physically pull the strike away from the locking mechanism.
- Grab this cord with a pair of pliers and pull on it gently to release the lock.
- Remove any clothes from the dryer before starting it back up.
- Run an empty wash cycle to check everything is working correctly.
- When reloading the washer, ensure you don’t overload the washer drum (keep it under 75% of maximum capacity), which can significantly contribute to the door-locking problem.
5. Replace the Control Board
Because of the inherent complexity involved with diagnosing and fixing a control board, the usual course of action is just to replace the entire board. As this is a complex and involved process, we recommend contacting Whirlpool customer support, who will arrange for a trained repair technician to come out and do this for you.
6. Align or Replace the Lid Striker
When a lid striker becomes defective, the door lock won’t be able to open after the wash cycle has finished. To resolve this, first, check that the striker is aligned correctly.
If the alignment looks good, you should test the switch for continuity; if it’s found to be non-functional, it must be replaced with a new one.
7. Replace the Actuator Motor
If the actuator motor fails, the door cannot electronically lock and unlock as needed. To temporarily open the lock, you can follow the manual unlocking process mentioned earlier in the article.
If you notice the locking mechanism making a loud grinding noise while the machine is running, it usually indicates the motor is defective and should be replaced. However, if you are uncertain about doing this yourself, then once again, we recommend contacting Whirlpool customer support and having a technician perform this replacement for you.