How to Unlock a Whirlpool Washer (Easy Fix)

How to Unlock a Whirlpool Washer

Getting clothes-related chores ticked off your to-do list is one of the most fulfilling things there is. However, completing it is a challenge if your Whirlpool washer is suddenly locked. 

It’s not uncommon for Whirlpool washers to remain locked after a wash cycle. There may be forgotten steps before starting, or the machine malfunctioned for various reasons, either due to its parts or internal systems.

Nonetheless, get your tools out and prepare to dive deep into the guts of your good ol’ Whirlpool washer.

Is my locked Whirlpool washer broken?

A locked Whirlpool washer isn’t entirely broken but may need to be cleaned or have certain parts replaced due to the usual wear and tear of the machine.

It is a common experience for Whirlpool washer users to have their machines locked. Your washer just needs to be checked so its defective parts and outdated systems can be identified and resolved as soon as possible.

Why is my Whirlpool washer locked?

An unfinished wash cycle or overheating is commonly the reason why your Whirlpool washer is locked. Either instance needs the motor to completely stop so the washer can cool down or signal the control board to open the door.

If your washing machine is overheating, give it at least 10 minutes to cool down. Your whirlpool washer shouldn’t exceed 122 degrees in temperature.

You may need to take a closer look at your appliance if the problem persists. Keep reading to learn more about them. 

What causes a locked Whirlpool washer and how to resolve it?

It’s a common occurrence to have your Whirlpool washer locked, but it can be a symptom of a defective component that needs to be resolved immediately.

We’ve compiled a few notable causes and how you can fix them before considering calling your technician. 

Problem Solution
Defective striker in the lid switch• Turn off the Whirlpool washer and locate the lid switch either beneath the control board or above the washing tub.
• Check for continuity using a multimeter.
• If the reading on the multimeter is close to zero ohms, the lid switch is not faulty and can still be used. Move on to checking other components if the switch is still usable.
• If not, the lid switch should be replaced with a new one before the washer is used.
Faulty drain pump• Turn off the Whirlpool washer and lay the machine on its back.
• Disconnect the pump using pliers and the required screwdrivers.
• Check its continuity status using a multimeter. The reading on the device should at least be 152 ohms.
• Replace the drain pump if the reading is below 152 ohms.
Damaged actuator motor• Turn on the Whirlpool washer and listen for grinding noises.
• If there is a grinding noise, the actuator motor is defective and needs immediate replacement.
• If there is no grinding noise, have the machine lie on its back and visually check the motor and its corresponding wires for any breakage.
• Check the actuator motor’s continuity level using a multimeter. If the reading is below 2000 ohms, the motor should be replaced immediately.
Obstructed filter• Self-cleaning filters don’t require any maintenance.
• Manual filters like the removable ones should be removed from its compartment.
• Clean the filter and its bay with a brush or washcloth, soap, and water.
• Return the filter to its compartment and screw it properly.
• Replace the filter with a new one if it’s visually broken.
Broken control board• Turn off the Whirlpool washer and carefully take out the control board.
• Replace immediately if visibly broken. If not, clean the tracks and remove extra solder.
• Check the capacitors using an ESR meter. If the reading is above 2 ohms, replace it before placing the control board back.
How to resolve locked whirlpool washer

Defective Striker in the Lid Switch

A faulty striker in the lid switch of your Whirlpool washer prevents the door from opening after a wash cycle. It may also cause water to reach your motors and break your appliance.

Solution: Turn off your Whirlpool washer using the Control Panel located at the top of your appliance. Then locate the lid switch, which is either beneath the control panel or on the cabinet of the tub.

Check the lid switch’s alignment and readjust it accordingly. Once readjusted, check the component’s continuity status using a multimeter.

Place the prongs of the multimeter on the lid switch’s electrical slots. The switch is still working properly if the readings on the multimeter are close to zero ohms.

However, the lid switch must be replaced with a new one if there is little to no change reflecting on the multimeter. To do this, detach the control panel or the tub so you can access the switch.

Remove the component from its compartment by unscrewing its mounting screws and uprooting the switch from the metal retainers. Put the new lid switch in the section and secure it using the screws and the metal retainers.

If the lid switch is working, then it’s time to look at the other components of your Whirlpool washer.

Faulty Drain Pump

When was the last time you cleaned out your drain pump? It should be cleaned once at least every six months so it won’t get clogged with debris like lint and small objects such as coins and pens.

There are also instances that your washing machine’s drain pump needs to be replaced. 

Some Whirlpool models have different locations for their drain pumps so check your appliance manual on where to find yours.

Solution: Switch off the Whirpool washer and locate the drain pump. Once located, lay the machine on its back and remove the appliance’s base plate. 

Use a pair of pliers to remove the drain hose and then unthread the rest of the pump from its place using screwdrivers. Most washer models require 5/16 sockets to remove the appliance’s nuts and bolts.

Afterward, use a multimeter to test its continuity status by placing the two prongs of the device on the electrical socket of the pump. The component should receive 160 to 260 ohms. 

Your drain pump’s lowest reading should only be 152 ohms. A lower reading means that the pump needs to be replaced with a new one before the washer is used.

Do this by laying the machine on its back and opening the base plate. Unlatch the drain pump wire cover, then disconnect the wire connector and the retaining clip from the motor.

Unclasp the spring clamp that connects the drain hose to the pump with a pair of pliers. Use a 5/16-inch nut driver to remove the remaining screws so you can unmount the old motor.

Place the new actuator motor in the compartment and securely screw everything back into place.  

Damaged Actuator Motor

A malfunctioning washer may be caused by a loose actuator motor. It can prompt the machine to stop working in the middle of your wash cycle, effectively locking the washer lid in the process.


Follow these steps for your initial assessment of the actuator motor:

  • Step 1: Turn on your Whirlpool washer and listen for grinding noises. The actuator motor is defective if there are noises present and thus requires immediate replacement.
  • Step 2: If there are no noises, turn off the washer and lay the machine on its back to reach the actuator motor located beneath the washing tub. Remove the base plate and take out the other components to access it.
  • Step 3: Visually check if the wires on the motor are tugged or chewed at. Move forward with the next step if there are no damages, but get ready to replace the motor if there is an impairment.

Lay the machine on its back and proceed to remove the base plate and other components. Use a 5/16-inch socket to remove the screws so you can pull out the belt guard and disconnect the motor’s wire connector.

Unscrew the remaining bolts to release the broken actuator and place the new one in the compartment. Place the screws and the belt guard back in its original position.

  • Step 4: Place the prongs on the motor’s electrical sockets and check for its continuity with a multimeter. Your reading should be between 2000 to 3500 ohms. 

A lower reading than 2000 ohms means that the actuator motor is busted and needs to be unthreaded from its compartments using the required sockets so it can be swapped out for a new one. 

Obstructed Filters

A locked washing machine door is a telltale sign that the appliance has a clogged filter. This instance can trigger the sensors into thinking that the tub still has water inside, which keeps the door locked due to its self-locking mechanism.

An average washing machine filter can last for six months. However, it should be changed more frequently if the machine is used on a regular basis.

On another note, Whirlpool washers have different filters. Newer Whirlpool models have self-cleaning filters while older models have filters that can either be pulled out from their compartments or built in the machine itself.

Solution: If your Whirlpool washer model has a self-cleaning filter, then you don’t need to pry open anything as it cleans itself as needed.

Manual filters such as the removable ones can be cleaned through these steps:

  • Step 1: Turn off the Whirlpool washer and locate the filter. Depending on your washer’s model, this can be located at the front of the machine behind a small latch, on the drain hose’s end, beneath the center agitator, or on the rim of the appliance’s drum.
  • Step 2: Place a washcloth beneath the filter’s area before pulling the filter out so that the excess water doesn’t spill.
  • Step 3: Clean the filter using a brush or scrub, soap, and water. Don’t forget to clean the compartment as well. 
  • Step 4: Slide the filter back in its place. Make sure to screw it tightly and all the way in to avoid any future problems.

If the filter appears to be broken, replace it with a new one. Remove the broken filter from its compartment and put in the replacement, screwing it tightly and properly to avoid leakage.

It’s important to change the filter first before running another wash cycle.

Broken Control Board

There are also rare cases that the control board of the washing machine is busted. The control board is faulty if the machine won’t start while plugged in or if any of its operations, specifically the ‘lock’ button of the washer, is not working properly.

Solution: Remove the control board by carefully taking it out from its compartment, which is located at the topmost part of the washing machine. Place it carefully in a flat working space to avoid breakage.

Clean the track using a small brush and remove any extra solder. Then, check every capacitor on the board using an Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) meter. 

You can do this by pinching the tweezers of the device on the capacitor’s post located on the underside of the board.

A good capacitor has 0.1 ohms, but it may vary depending on what kind of capacitor the board has. 

If the reading reaches 2 ohms and beyond, then remove the capacitor’s solder to separate the component from the control board. Use a functioning capacitor and solder it on the previous capacitor’s position on the board. 

However, it is advisable to check other causes for the locked washer door before replacing the capacitor as the procedure can be expensive. As such, replacing the capacitors, or the control board itself, should be your last resort.

Broken Control Board

How to Unlock Your Whirlpool Washer

Now that we’ve inspected your Whirlpool washer to determine why it’s locked, now’s the time to try unlocking your trusty washing machine.

Here are a few ways you can use to unlatch your washer: 

Using the Whirlpool Washer’s “Cancel” Button

Simply cancel your current washing cycle by pressing the “cancel” button on the control panel until you hear it beep twice, to which you can finally open the door.

You may need to wait until the washer is completely finished with its wash cycle before trying to open the door as the motor needs to completely stop. 

You can also drain some of the water in the tub after canceling the current wash cycle. Excessive water content in the washer can cause the machine to stop mid-wash.

Utilizing the “Control Lock” and “End of cycle” Buttons

If your washing machine still won’t open after its wash cycle, find its “control lock” button and hold it for three seconds. This disables the lock feature, and you should be hearing an unlatching sound afterward.

Assuming your appliance has one, try pushing the “End of cycle” button for a few seconds to manually reset the washer. This should have the door open in a jiffy.

In case the manual resetting fails, you can just simply unplug the washing machine and wait for at least 45 minutes before plugging it back in to completely reset its system.

Manually Removing the Lid

Your last option, in case none of the other courses of action worked out, is to manually remove the door lid using a flathead screwdriver to initially dislodge the toe panel at the bottom of the washer. 

Once done, you can then reach inside the front panel for the door latch where you’ll find a teardrop-shaped tab that you need to pull. After hearing a click, you should be able to open the washer’s door.

On the other hand, contacting your technician for such a problem is a great idea as you may be minimizing any mistakes while replacing or checking your washer’s parts.

Finding a solution to your locked Whirlpool washer may range from pushing and pressing down on some buttons for a few seconds to carefully removing vital components to assess them one by one.

Your Whirlpool model’s manual is essential when navigating the solutions so you can familiarize yourself with its buttons and components, and most importantly, its proper handling to avoid any other malfunctions.

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