Can’t Open A Dishwasher Door— How to Troubleshoot

As reliable as a dishwasher can be, there might come a time when even the simplest things go wrong. For instance, what should you do when you can’t open the door to your dishwasher? The solution to this problem is quite simple.

If you can’t open the door to your dishwasher, check to make sure that the lock is disengaged.

Dishwashers can come with child safety locks that prevent the door from swinging open mid-cycle. If the lock is already disengaged, you can manually detach the latch by using a pair of pliers and an Allen wrench.

To learn more about how to open a dishwasher door, I’ve provided the solution in greater detail down below. I’ll also go answer any other lingering questions you may have about your dishwasher’s door.

Can’t Open a Dishwasher Door—How to Troubleshoot

The unfortunate thing about household appliances is that they can become less reliable with age. Fortunately, dishwashers have a life expectancy of around 7 years on average. The bad news is that dishwashers will typically begin to experience technical difficulties, such as jammed doors, after the third year.

Causes for a Locked Dishwasher Door

If this is the case with your dishwasher, there are 3 main causes to look for, namely:

Interrupted power

Dishwashers require a continuous source of power to operate. If the power to the dishwasher’s circuit goes out for any reason, the dishwasher’s auto-locking feature will kick in, which prevents the door from opening to prevent the remaining water from leaking out the tub.

Water supply

Not only does your dishwasher require water to operate, but the water has to flow into the machine at a certain pressure. Another reason that your dishwasher’s door may not open is that it is caught in the middle of a cycle and not receiving enough water or enough water pressure.

Locking mechanism engaged

Dishwashers come with auto-locking systems that prevent the user (or the user’s children) from opening the door. Sometimes, the user may have accidentally activated the child safety lock feature, which also locks them out from accessing the dishwasher’s tub.

How to Troubleshoot

How to Troubleshoot

If your dishwasher’s door locks on you for seemingly no reason, you don’t have to worry. Whether the issue is a mechanical error or not, you can open the door in one way or another.

Let’s explore the various methods for troubleshooting a stuck dishwasher door.

Check the control Lock

The control lock is a special feature found in modern dishwashers that is added to provide an extra layer of protection against leaking. It requires pressing a single button or inputting a specific sequence to activate or deactivate. If the control lock in your dishwasher is engaged, simply input the unlocking sequence to deactivate the locking mechanism.

As simple as this solution may sound, it’s something that many people completely forget about over time.

However, this feature isn’t found in every dishwasher. So, if you’re in doubt, look through the owner’s manual to see whether it has a control lock and what button(s) you need to press to unlock it.

Check the child safety lock

Check the child safety lock

This is another solution that can easily slip your mind, especially if you’re panicked about how to unstick a dishwasher door. This system is in place to stop curious toddlers from swinging the dishwasher door open and interrupting an ongoing wash cycle.

On the control board, look for the child safety lock button. In some models, the button will light up when the lock is engaged, which will prevent anyone (not just kids) from opening the latch. Press the button until the backlight turns off, and the lock will be deactivated.

Check the door latch

The latch is in place to create an airtight and water-tight seal. If the latch becomes damaged in any way, it may prevent the dishwasher from turning on in the first place. To solve this problem, you will have to locate the door latch and microswitch.

Run a flat object in the gap above the dishwasher’s door and the bottom of the top panel. When it comes into contact with the latch, gently push down on the flat object to bring the latch up, which should hopefully disengage the microswitch. If this solves the problem, then you might need to replace the latch to prevent further problems.

Check the door handle

Over the years, aggressively opening and shutting the dishwasher door may have caused it to become misaligned. In addition, an excessive buildup of grease and grime along the outer edge of the door may have gotten into the door’s latches, which could also cause the door to become jammed.

To unjam a misaligned door, you will need to have a pair of pliers and an Allen wrench on hand. With the wrench, slide it along the top of the dishwasher door and disengage it as you would in the previous troubleshooting method.

When the door is opened, carefully inspect the door to see whether or not it is misaligned in any way. You can fix the problem by brute-forcing the door into place or by taking the door off, realigning it with the hinges, and reinstalling the door. If you’re in doubt, hire a repair contractor to do the work for you.

One clear indication that the door was previously misaligned is if you hear a loud clicking sound. However, in extreme cases, the door frame may have warped over the years, and the only way to solve this problem is by bending the frame back into shape.

How to Disengage the Control Lock

The control lock should be the first thing you check before dismantling your dishwasher’s door and inspecting it for faulty latches, hinges, or damage. However, if you’re not accustomed to using the manual control lock, then disengaging the lock might seem a bit confusing.

Again, if you’re in doubt, check the owner’s manual for instructions on how to engage and disengage the control lock. If you lost your manual or purchased your dishwasher second-hand, look for a digital manual on the manufacturer’s website.

Alternatively, you can follow these generic instructions on how to operate the control lock on KitchenAid, Whirlpool, and Maytag dishwashers.

KitchenAid Dishwashers

  1. On the control panel, press and hold the Control Lock/Hold button for 3 seconds.
  2. If your KitchenAid dishwasher does not have a Control Lock button, press and hold the Proscrub Upper, 4 Hour Delay, or Bottle Wash button for 3 seconds.
  3. When the lock backlight turns off, you can open the dishwasher’s door.

Whirlpool Dishwashers

  1. Look for the Control Lock/Hold button and press and hold for 3 seconds.
  2. If your Whirlpool dishwasher does not have a Control Lock button, press and hold the Proscrub, Upper, 4 Hour Delay, Sani Rinse, or Bottle Wash button for 3 seconds.

Maytag Dishwashers

  1. Press any button on the dishwasher. If your dishwasher is locked, the Control Lock backlight will flash, preventing you from inputting new commands.
  2. Press and hold the Control Lock button for 3 seconds.
  3. If there is no Control Lock button, look for a button located near the lock backlight. Press and hold that button for 3 seconds.
  4. When the lock backlight switches from red to green, you can open the dishwasher’s door.

Other Brands

  1. In the event that you own a different dishwasher that does not have control lock buttons, press the Rinse Only or No Heat Dry button. If the backlight flashes, that means the control lock is engaged.
  2. Press and hold the Rinse Only or No Heat Dry button for 3-8 seconds and look for a light to turn off. Otherwise, wait for the machine to make a beeping noise, which will indicate that the electronic lock is deactivated.

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