If your dishwasher’s door is stuck closed, you may be at a loss as to how you can fix this. The problem likely lies with your door latch assembly, but replacing the assembly requires opening the door. If you can’t open the door to begin with, it may seem like there’s nothing you can do.
Fortunately, it is possible to solve the problem of a stuck dishwasher door without having to call in a repairman. You may be able to slip a thin piece of wire in between the dishwasher and the door to release the latch, and it may also be possible to use simple brute force to open a stuck dishwasher door without breaking anything.
In this article, we’ll be going over the likely causes why your dishwasher door latch has broken, and we’ll explain how to open a stuck dishwasher door and how to repair your latch so that it doesn’t get stuck again.
Why Is My Door Latch Stuck Shut?
If your dishwasher door latch is stuck firmly shut no matter what you try to do, it’s most likely that one of the components inside the latch has broken.
Odds are your dishwasher door latch assembly is mostly made out of plastic, and plastic can become brittle over the course of time. Brittle plastic is obviously more likely to break when stress is placed on it.
In this situation, it’s likely that the latch hook that actually holds the door shut is still functional, but the connection between the latch hook and the door handle has broken off.
When this happens, the dishwasher door handle will feel like it’s “floating” inside the door latch assembly.
How Do I Open My Dishwasher Door?
Fortunately, you can still open your dishwasher door in this scenario, although it will require a bit of finesse. You will require a few tools to get the job done, although odds are you already have these tools on hand.
Here’s how to open up a stuck dishwasher door:
- First, you’ll need to get your hands on a thin piece of metal with a bend in it. An Allen key works great for this purpose if you have one, but if not you can make your own tool by straightening out a wire clothes hanger and making a 1/2″ long L-shaped bend at one end.
- Stick the short end of your Allen key or wire hanger into the space between the dishwasher door and the dishwasher body, just to the right of the door handle. You may want to hold on to the long end of the Allen key with some vise grip pliers, which will improve your grip and allow you to use the Allen key with more force.
- Move the Allen key to the left until you feel it catch on something. If you’re in the right spot, the Allen key should be touching the latch.
- Turn the Allen key to the right by 90 degrees, while simultaneously pulling outwards on it. If you do this step correctly, this motion should release the latch and cause the door to pop open.
If you don’t have an Allen key or some other suitable piece of metal for this procedure, you can always just try forcing the door open. Be careful when going this route, though, as you may end up breaking other parts of your dishwasher if you’re not careful.
As for how to do this, you can always just try giving your dishwasher door a quick yank, or you can attempt to pry it open with a pair of flathead screwdrivers at the top corners of the door.
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How Do I Replace My Door Latch Assembly?
Once you’ve managed to get your dishwasher door open again, the next step is to fix your door latch assembly. In most cases, you’ll have to replace the entire door latch assembly to solve the issue, but if you’re a particularly handy individual you may be capable of fixing the broken latch component yourself (depending on what exactly is broken).
Assuming you’re going to go the easy route and replace the entire door latch assembly, however, here’s what you need to do:
1. Turn Off Power to the Dishwasher
The door latch assembly contains some electrical components, so you’ll have to disconnect your dishwasher from its power supply in order to safely work on it. This can be done by finding the circuit breaker that is connected to your dishwasher and switching it off.
Once you’ve flipped the breaker, you should always double-check to make sure that the right breaker has been flipped. To do so, try pushing a few of your dishwasher’s buttons. If they are unresponsive, your dishwasher should be powered off and you should be ok to work on it.
2. Remove the Dishwasher’s Inner and Outer Door Panels
With the power off, now you can actually get to work. You’ll need to start by removing the inner and outer panels of the dishwasher door. The outer panel holds the control panel and the door latch assembly, while the inner panel holds the detergent dispenser. You’ll need to remove both panels in order to actually reach the door latch.
- Start by opening the dishwasher door all the way, and then remove all the screws along the inside edge of the door.
- Rest the dishwasher door on your legs or another object while you’re doing this, as the underside of the door will come loose once the final screw is removed.
- Once you’ve removed the screws, disconnect the wiring that joins the two panels together and remove the outer panel from the dishwasher entirely.
3. Remove the Old Door Latch
With the outer panel completely separated from the inner panel, you should now have the old door latch assembly completely exposed. Now comes time to remove the old assembly, which is fortunately pretty simple.
- First, you need to disconnect the assembly from the wire harness inside the panel, which you can do simply by pulling it out.
- Next, you need to release the assembly itself from the panel.
- The assembly should be held in place by two locking tabs; using a flathead screwdriver can make these tabs easier to release.
- Once you have the door latch assembly fully disconnected from the door panel, just pull it out of its slot. You can throw the assembly away if you want, or hang on to it and recycle what parts of it you can.
4. Install the New Latch
Installing the new latch is even easier than removing the old one. All you need to do is slide the new assembly into the slot where the old one was, making sure the locking tabs click into place and connect the wire harness to the assembly.
Depending on the model you have, the locking mechanism for the latch assembly may be slightly different than this, but in general, this step should be more or less the same across all dishwasher models.
5. Reinstall the Door Panels
With the door latch assembly back in place inside the outer panel, it’s time to put the two panels back together. Once again, you’ll need to support the underside of the outer panel while you do this.
- When you have the outer panel in place, all you need to do is screw the two panels together again.
- Take care not to over-tighten the screws, as this can potentially damage your door panels.
6. Restore Power to the Dishwasher and Test Your Repairs
Once everything has been reassembled, it’s time to test it out.
- Restore power to your dishwasher, and try opening and closing the latch a few times to see how everything feels.
- You may also want to run a load of dishes just to confirm that everything is working as it should.
If your dishwasher functions normally after this, congratulations! You’ve just successfully swapped out your dishwasher’s door latch assembly. With any luck, your door latch should now work normally for the remainder of your dishwasher’s life.