There are several possible causes for door not opening on a Kenmore front loading washing machine.

How to Troubleshoot a Kenmore Washer Front Loader When the Door Stays Locked

by Ian Kelly

If the door stays locked on your Kenmore front loading washing machine, the door will not open if the machine contains water -- a safety measure that prevents spillage. If this is the case, the control panel may show the “Washer not Draining” F21 error code. If so, there are a number of faults that could cause this condition. On the other hand, the fault may be traced to a bad door latch and door switch assembly.

Check to see whether the drain hose is kinked, frozen or clogged. If so, clear the blockage and straighten the hose. Next, select the spin cycle and press “Start” to see if this procedure cleared the fault.

Measure the distance of the drain hose outlet from the floor. If it is more than 96 inches above the floor, a slightly worn drain pump will not be able to overcome the resultant pressure caused by the column of water.

Place the drain hose in a bucket on the floor and run the spin cycle to see if this clears the fault. If so, select an alternative drainage point closer to the floor, or have a plumber lower the existing outlet.

Unplug the washer’s power cord. Remove the three torque-head screws securing the lower front panel and lay the panel aside. This will reveal the drain pump situated in the center front of the opening.

Undo the round filter cover on the front of the pump by twisting it half a full turn in a counterclockwise direction. Withdraw the filter and examine it for foreign objects wedged inside. You may find something like a baby sock or the filter may be blocked with lint.

Clean out the pump filter and reinsert it. Plug the power cord back in, select the spin cycle and press “Start” to see if the washer drains properly and that the door opens after completing the cycle. If this clears the fault, reinstall the lower front panel.

Ensure that the machine does not contain any water and tilt it to a 45-degree angle to the left with the help of a friend. Reach up through the bottom opening and open the door latch manually by sliding the catch on the front of the assembly toward the door. Try closing and reopening the door from the front. If it fails to operate properly, replace the door latch and door switch assembly.

Items you will need

  • Tape measure
  • Torque-head screwdriver


  • Always unplug the appliance power cord before removing any panels or working on the inside of the machine.

About the Author

After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand and qualifying as an aircraft engineer, Ian Kelly joined a Kitchen remodeling company and qualified as a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD). Kelly then established an organization specializing in home improvement, including repair and maintenance of household appliances, garden equipment and lawn mowers.

Photo Credits

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