Washing Machine Full Of Water & Won’t Open? (do this to open the door)

One of the most commonly reported problems with washing machines is that the door is stuck closed. This typically happens when the washer is full of laundry and often when it’s full of water too.

We all know that leaving wet laundry inside the drum of the washer is a recipe for disaster and will leave the clothes smelling damp and musty. Which means you need to act fast to get the door open and the clothes out.

However, you also don’t want to allow a full drum of water to flood your home. In this article I share the best ways to remove the water from the washer and then get the door open to remove the wet laundry.

What Causes The Door On The Washing Machine To Get Stuck In The Closed Position?

There are several reasons why a washing machine might get the door stuck in the locked and closed position which include;

Probable CauseSolution
Interrupted Power SupplyCheck the power cord, plug, plug socket and circuit breaker
The Child Lock Is ActivatedDeactivate the child lock
An Error Code Has Been DisplayedCheck the error code and repair whatever it indicates
The Door Handle Is Stuck Or BrokenUnlock the door using a piece of string or a credit card
The Door Catch Is BrokenReplace the door catch
The Drain Pump Or Drain Filter Are CloggedClear any blockage
A Defective Pressure SwitchCheck for continuity and replace if necessary
A Defective Temperature SensorCheck for continuity and replace if necessary
A Malfunctioning Control BoardContact a technician

I’ll go into more detail about each of these faults later on but first;

Before You Can Open The Door, You Need To Empty The Water First

Whatever has caused your washing machine door to stick in the closed position, you need to remove the water safely to avoid your home from getting flooded. To do this entails some degree of wetness but you can control it.

There are several ways to remove the water depending on what caused it in the first place and the washing machine you own.

If the problem was caused by an interrupted power supply, you can run a spin and drain cycle once the power has been restored. If the problem lies elsewhere, the first task is to lay some towels under the washer to absorb as much spillage as possible.

You will then need a large bowl or container to capture the water in.

How To Drain The Water From The Washing Machine

washing machine drain hose

Once the towels are in place and you’ve found a large container to collect the water in, you’re ready to start. The first step is to unplug the appliance and ensure the power cord and plug are stashed somewhere safe and dry. This prevents the plug or cord getting wet or stuck under the appliance.

Drain Hose

Locate the drain hose which is situated at the back of the appliance. The drain hose is the one that’s not connected to a water supply pipe. If the drain hose is pushed into a standpipe, simply remove it and place it in your bucket (or container).

If the drain hose is connected to the waste pipe under the sink, unscrew it and place it in the bucket. If the bucket fills and there’s still more water flowing, hold the pipe up higher than the washer and empty the bucket and repeat.

If this doesn’t work, the drain hose is probably clogged and will need to be cleared after the water has been removed. This can often be achieved using hot water or if not a plumber’s snake will often clear any blockage in the drain hose.

Drain Filter

Even if disconnecting the drain hose and emptying it into a bucket was successful, there’s still likely to be some water remaining in the drum. To remove this you will need to locate the drain filter at the bottom front of your appliance (consult your user manual for model specific location).

Before opening the drain filter, you will need to place a shallow tray (like an oven tray or similar) under the point where the drain filter is located. As well as a few towels to soak up any spillage. Open the flap to reveal the drain filter.

Then turn the filter in an anti-clockwise direction, take care as water will start flowing almost immediately. Once your tray is full, close the filter again by turning it clockwise, empty the tray and repeat until there’s no more water.

Once all of the water has been removed, you can unscrew the filter completely and remove it. Then give it a wash under a fast flowing tap to remove any dirt or debris then replace the filter.

How To Get The Washing Machine Door Open

person looking at washing machine

Now all of the water has been drained from the machine, it’s time to get the door open. The actions required to open the door depend on the cause and should be tackled in the following way;

Interrupted Power Supply

This is the easiest problem to solve once discovered. The power could have been interrupted by a power cut or outage. If this is the case, once the power has been restored run a spin and drain cycle to remove the water and the door should open automatically after a few minutes.

If there has been no power cut or outage, check the power cord isn’t damaged or frayed and replace it if it is. Check that the plug is fully inserted into the socket and the switch is in the on position.

Then check the circuit breaker is in the on position. Once any of these interruptions has been remedied, run a spin and drain cycle to remove the water from the drum. The door should then open after a few minutes.

Child Lock Activated

The child lock is a safety feature designed to prevent inquisitive little hands from messing with your appliance. This prevents injury to the child as well as preventing damage to the machine.

If the child lock has been activated, all of the lights will light up but nothing will work on the washing machine. You will need to consult your user manual to learn how to deactivate the child lock on your particular model.

Once the child lock has been deactivated, the door should function as normal.

An Error Code Has Been Displayed

Check the display screen on the front of your appliance to see if there is an error code displayed. If you do find an error code, consult your user manual for the meaning of that code and act accordingly.

In some cases, you will need to contact the manufacturer or a technician to deal with whatever problem has been detected.

The Door Handle Is Stuck Or Broken

confused person in front of washing machine

The door handle is a lever that pulls the door latch. The latch then disengages the door lock and the door opens. If any of these components are damaged or broken, the door will not open.

There are a few tricks that can be used to open the door which include;

Allow The Machine To Cool Down

Sometimes the locking mechanism overheats which can prevent it from opening. If this is the case, all you need to do is disconnect the power supply and wait for 10 to 15 minutes.

This allows the washer to cool down and often, the door will open as normal after this time has passed.

Hit The Door Over The Lock Area

In some cases, gently hitting the lock area of the washer using the palm of your hand can release the mechanism if it’s stuck.

Use The Emergency Door Release

Some washing machines have an emergency release tab which can be used to open the stuck door. If your appliance has an emergency release tab it will be located under a flap just below the door.

The tab will typically be a contrasting colour to the rest of the machine and made from plastic. All you need to do is pull the tab down whilst pulling the door handle.

Use Some Strong Cord

You can try feeding some fishing line or strimmer cable around the door to release the hook on the door lock. You will need to disconnect the power supply first and then wrap the cord around the door from the handle area. 

Once you have wrapped the cord around the door, pull it from the opposite side from the handle. This should move the hook back and open the door.

Use An Old Credit Card

As long as your appliance doesn’t have a sunken door or an angled route to the lock, you can use an old credit card to open the door. 

Unplug the appliance first and then slip the credit card under the door and push the hook to unlock the door.

The Door Catch Is Broken

The door catch or safety lock, stops the door being opened when the machine is in operation. It is a safety feature designed to prevent flooding in your home.

If the lock is damaged it could prevent the door from opening. Once you have got the door open using one of the techniques above, you will need to check the catch and if it proves to be damaged, it will need to be replaced.

The Drain Pump Or Drain Filter Are Clogged

Washing Machine Filter

If there is a blockage in the drain filter or drain pump, the washer will not drain wastewater from the appliance and the safety features will kick in and prevent the door from opening.

After draining the washer (see above) and cleaning the filter (see above), you can check the status of the drain pump. If this is a step too far, I recommend contacting a technician to investigate further.

A Defective Pressure Switch

The pressure switch detects the water level inside the washing machine’s tub. If it becomes defective, it could send a message to the control board saying that there is too much water in the tub to open the door.

To access the pressure switch, you will need to dismantle the top panel from your washer which might be a step too far for many people. Which is why I recommend contacting a technician to investigate and replace the pressure switch if necessary.

A Defective Temperature Sensor

The temperature sensor or NTC sensor as it is often called, detects the water temperature and reports to the control board. If the NTC is defective, it could send a message to the control board about the washing machine being too hot to allow the door to be opened.

Unless you are a confident DIYer, I recommend getting a technician to investigate and replace the temperature sensor if necessary.

A Malfunctioning Control Board

The control board manages every function on your washing machine. There’s a possibility that it has malfunctioned and is not allowing the door to open.

This could be linked to an error code being displayed. In some cases it’s possible to clear any fault by disconnecting the power supply for 10 to 15 minutes and then reconnecting.

This allows any residual power to dissipate and clear any glitch in the system. If this doesn’t work and you’ve ruled out all of the other probable causes, the control board could be malfunctioning.

As these parts are extremely expensive and easy to damage I recommend getting a technician to investigate the control board for you. Depending on the age of your appliance it might work out as a better option to replace the washing machine rather than replacing the control board.

SEE ALSO: Washing Machine Door Won’t Open At End Of Cycle? (here’s why & what to do)
SEE ALSO: Foam In Washing Machine? Too Many Suds? (do this)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my washing machine full of water and wont open?

If your washing machine is full of water and the door won’t open it is most likely caused by a defective drain pump or a clogged drain filter. The door will not open as a safety precaution to prevent flooding in your home.

Can you open a washing machine before it’s finished?

To open a washing machine door before the cycle has finished, you should press the start/pause button and wait until it drains. The door lock will then deactivate and allow you to open the door.

How long does it take for the washer door to unlock?

It can take up to 2 minutes for the door to unlock on a washing machine after the cycle has finished. If you try to force the handle before the safety lock has deactivated, you could damage the door lock or handle.

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