Washing Machine Shaking? Here’s What to Do

Movement is key to the washer’s ability to clean clothes, as is spinning to dry them. However, if your washer is shaking excessively, it indicates that a part has failed, and it will need to be replaced. Although, in some cases, simply adjusting the leveling legs will solve the issue.

If the washer is excessively shaking during one particular load, the most common reason is that the clothes in the washer are not balanced. This often happens when washing large items, such as blankets or beach towels. If this happens, pause the washer and balance the load.

This guide lists all the most common reasons why your washer may be shaking.

Washing Machine Is Not Level

For a washer to do its job properly, it needs to be level. If the washer is not level, it can excessively shake and rock back and forth, and the vibrations can travel through the floor to affect other areas of the laundry room or house. Severe vibrations can also lead to leaks and mechanical issues.

If your washer is shaking too much, the first step is to use a leveling tool to check that the washing machine is level. The washer can also be rocked back and forth to check that it is stable and a leg is not damaged.

If the washing machine is not level, the washer has adjustable legs to ensure that the washer can sit level on any type of floor. Washer legs and their rubber feet absorb a lot of movement during their lifespans, which often causes them to wear out or become damaged.

To check and adjust washer legs and feet:

  1. Tilt the washing machine back or use a flashlight to inspect the leveling legs. If the rubber feet or legs are damaged, replace the part.
  2. Use a wrench to adjust the legs.

Some washers come with self-adjusting rear legs. The legs can be adjusted by tilting the machine forward, allowing the rear legs to drop down, and then by making sure they adjust to the level of the floor.

Shock Absorber

Front-loader washers have shock absorbers that compress and expand to lessen the movement of the tub during washing cycles. Depending on the brand, there will be three or four shock absorbers that support the tub. The shock absorbers are located at the bottom of the washer, attached to the tub and the base.

The shock absorbers can be visually checked to see if they are broken or leaking oil. If you do not see any physical damage, you may need to take the shock absorber out to see if it has failed.

To check the shock absorbers:

  1. Disconnect the power to the washer.
  2. Access the shock absorbers by removing the bottom access panel or by removing the washer’s front panel.
  3. Inspect the shock absorbers for signs of damage or oil leakage.
  4. Remove the shock absorber from the washer.
  5. Compress the shock absorber by hand; then pull it out. You should feel some resistance, and as you pull it out, it should become more difficult. If there is little resistance and/or the two halves separate, it will need to be replaced. If there is oil leakage, it should also be replaced.

Suspension Rods and Dampening Straps

Most top-loader washers have suspension rods and dampening straps that control the vibration and movement of the tub. Suspension rods are similar to shock absorbers, except the tub hangs on them rather than being supported by them. Suspension rods can be located by looking for a long, thin rod with a spring at one end, reaching from the bottom of the outer tub to the upper cabinet frame.

Top-loader washers with dampening straps assist the suspension rods in reducing the movement of the washer. Dampening straps can be located at the top of the tub, going from the upper cabinet to the tub cover.

If the washer moves excessively during a spin cycle, with the tub becoming off-balance, the suspension rods or dampening straps are likely faulty.

To check the suspension rods, push down on the tub and see if it gives you a single, smooth bounce. If it does not, it indicates that the rods will need to be replaced. If the upper ball and socket on a rod are damaged, it will need to be replaced. If the dampening straps appear damaged, they should also be replaced.

Less Common Causes

Spider Support Arm

Front-loader washers have a spider support arm that holds the inner tub in place. It usually has three support arms attached to the inner tub, with a shaft connected to the motor or drive pulley. Over time, the support arms may become damaged, causing the washer to shake. If you spin the tub by hand and hear a clicking or rumbling sound, it indicates the spider support arm may need to be replaced. If you notice that the tub is wobbling, it also indicates that the support arm is damaged.

Suspension Pads

Suspension pads help the washer move freely during a cycle. There are different types of suspension pads; some are small and plastic that support the washer frame, while another type is a large ring found at the base of the machine. If the pads appear damaged, they should be replaced.

Springs

Various springs are used on both top-loader and front-loader washers. If any of the springs appear stretched out or broken, they should be replaced.

Tub Bearings

Tub bearings allow the driveshaft to rotate during a washing cycle. A washer that is shaking and making a squealing noise indicates that a bearing may be defective. On front-loaders, the bearings are located at the rear of the outer tub. On top-loaders, they can be found at the bottom of the tub, behind the motor. The tub can be manually turned to check if there is a squealing noise. As bearings fail, the shaking and noise will typically get worse.

Balance Ring

Some washers have a balance ring, which contains liquid that counterbalances the tub as it spins. The balance ring can be found at the top of the tub on a front-loader washer, while top-loaders may have two of them around the top of the tub. If a balance ring is damaged, it can cause the washer to shake. Balance rings can be checked on top-loaders by removing the tub cover. On front-loaders, the outer tub will need to be disassembled to access the rings.

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