How to Balance a Washing Machine (5 Quick Tips)

April 9, 2024
Washer Repair

An unbalanced washing machine can lead to excessive noise and vibrations, which can reverberate around your home, causing disturbance. However, this is not an annoyance that you have to live with, nor do you need to pay for a professional to fix it. Most of the time, you can balance your washing machine yourself with some simple steps.

Follow the tips below to learn how to balance your washing machine.

Tip #1: Ensure the Surface is Level and Stable

It’s much easier to achieve a balanced and stable washing machine when it is positioned on a hard, level surface. Inspect the floor where your washer is situated, moving the appliance if needed.

Is the floor uneven and unstable? For example, is the washer sitting on bumpy tiling, jagged concrete, soft carpet, or old wobbly floorboards? If so, this will likely cause your machine to be unbalanced.

Instead, you want a flat, solid surface that can support the washer’s weight and remain stable while it’s running. Consider reinforcing or resurfacing the floor if you need to.

Tip #2: Ensure the Unit is Level and Stable

Now that you know your washing machine is sitting on a solid foundation, the next thing to check is that the unit itself is level. You can do this by placing a spirit level on top of the appliance. Does the bubble sit in the middle of the spirit level? If so, this means it’s level; if not, it’s unlevel.

Check both front-to-back and side-to-side on top using the spirit level. If it is unlevel, use the leveling feet on the bottom of the washing machine to adjust each corner until it is level. Turning the leveling feet clockwise will raise the washing machine whereas counterclockwise will lower it. You will likely need to use a wrench to turn them.

Next, give the washing machine a gentle nudge from different angles to see if it rocks back and forth. If it does, one or more of the leveling feet are not making full contact with the floor and will need adjusting. You want all four leveling feet to be in contact with the ground, so the unit is stable and doesn’t rock when you nudge it.

When you are sure the washing machine is stable and level, use a wrench to tighten the lock nuts on the leveling legs so the appliance stays in this optimal position.

Tip #3: Ensure the Load is Evenly Distributed

If a load is not evenly distributed in the drum, it can cause the drum to be out of balance, leading to excessive noise and rumbling, and in some cases, it may even trigger an error code on your washer. 

If you are mid-way through a cycle, you can lift the lid or hit “Pause” to temporarily stop the washer. Look inside the drum to see how the laundry is distributed. Here are some key things to look out for:

  • Are most items bunched up on one side of the drum?
  • Are you washing a large bulky item, such as a blanket or comforter?
  • Do you have an unequal amount of small and large items?
  • Are clothes wrapped around the agitator?

If a large portion of the load is bunched up in one area of the washer, this puts more weight there, leading to an unbalanced drum. You can fix this by pulling apart the bunch and redistributing it evenly around the drum before resuming the cycle.

Large bulky items can have a similar effect, causing more weight to be concentrated in one area of the drum. You can usually resolve this by not washing these large items on their own, and instead adding additional smaller items to help balance the load. 

In a normal load, you want a fairly equal amount of large (heavy) and small (lightweight) items on each side of the drum. So if you have 4 pairs of heavy jeans and 6 T-shirts to wash in total, distribute 2 pairs of jeans and 3 T-shirts in one half of the drum and the same on the other.

Finally, if your washing machine has an agitator, and clothes are wrapped around it, you’ll want to unwrap them and re-distribute them in the drum.

Tip #4: Ensure the Load Size is Suitable

A load that is either too big or too small can lead to an unbalanced washing machine. That’s because:

  • Small loads: When the load is too small, the weight cannot be evenly distributed throughout the drum, causing an imbalance. 
  • Oversized loads: Washing machines are not designed to handle being packed full of items. There needs to be some room in the drum for it to function optimally. 

A simple way to avoid over or underfilling your washing machine is to check the load size recommendations for your washing machine model and adhere to them. You can find this information in your user manual.

For optimal performance on most front-load washing machines, it’s usually recommended you fill them 2/3 full. Whereas for top-load washing machines, somewhere between 1/3 and 3/4 full is okay.

Tip #5: Ensure the Drum is Not Loose

For older and heavily used washing machines, the drum bearings or the shock absorbers can eventually wear out, resulting in a loose drum that is out of balance.

To check this, inspect if the drum is sitting in the middle of the washer or leaning more to one side. Then, manually spin the drum to see if you hear a grinding or clattering noise.

If the drum is uncentered and makes unusual noises, it could indicate the above components are worn out and need to be replaced. Another telltale sign is that the washer makes a very loud clanging or banging sound while it is running.

If you suspect a loose drum, your best bet is to call in a professional to inspect your machine and replace any damaged components. However, if you are very confident in your DIY skills, you may be able to replace the bearings or shock absorbers yourself by following tutorials for your specific washing machine model.


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