How to Stop Your Washer from Shaking & Vibrating Loudly

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When your washing machine shakes, there is no mistaking that distinct and surprisingly disruptive sound. We’re all familiar with the distant whir of a properly functioning washing machine and the dangerous clunking that means a top-loader needs to be rebalanced.  But what about constant shaking, rattling, and vibrating when your washer is performing its daily clothes-spinning duties?

A noisy washing machine not only interrupts your peace of mind and the soundscape of your home, but it could also be doing damage to your washer by thrashing it around and shortening its lifespan. If you’re tired of your washing machine making so much noise, skittering across the floor, or doing damage to itself, then it’s time to do some repairs. In many cases, this is a problem that can be solved with a few home adjustments but you may need to call for repairs if an internal stabilizing part is a problem. 

Why Washers Shake and Vibrate

When a washer starts to shake violently on a regular basis or vibrate loudly, the cause is either internal or external. If it is external, then the washer is not braced correctly to account for its own internal movements. If the problem is internal, then the drum movements inside are unbalanced and this will need to be remedied. 

Wobbling on Washer Feet

The single leading cause for a noisy washer that won’t stop wobbling is uneven appliance feet. Your washer needs to sit level, meaning that the top of the washer is completely flat, even if the floor underneath the washer is uneven. 

  • Is This Your Problem?
    • Test this theory by grabbing and pushing on your washer. If you can get your washer to wobble, with one foot apparently higher or lower than the others, then the feet are your problem.
  • Why This Problem
    • This can happen for three reasons. Your laundry room floor might be uneven, you might have rugs under the washer making it uneven, or the feet themselves might be different heights. All these problems are solved the same way: by adjusting the feet until the washer is level.
  • How to Repair
    • Place a bubble level on top of the washer. This will tell you whether the washer is even, and confirm the washer is even once you get the feet secured.
    • Use a wrench to adjust the feet. Turn them clockwise (right turn) for shorter feet and counter-clockwise (left turn) for longer feet.
    • Check the level until the feet are even and the washer no longer wobbles at all when pushed.

Unbalanced Load

In top-loading washers, in particular, the balance of your washer load matters a great deal. And with heavy enough items, you can even unbalance an HE front-loading washer. If the load is unbalanced, the washer will have a hard time absorbing the uneven spinning velocity and you may hear some shaking or clattering.

  • Is This Your Problem?
    • Test this theory by running the washer empty. If the noise goes away, there’s a good chance that load balance was your problem.
    • If the shaking sound is uneven, with one ‘half’ of the noise-cycle louder or more scraping than the other half, this is a balance issue.
    • More common in top-load washers
    • However, if this problem happens often (even with carefully balanced loads) it may be the shock absorbers instead.
  • Why This Problem
    • Washers can absorb some of the wobbles from the spinning drum, but washers are designed to deal with loads of laundry that spin evenly as the clothes are tumbled or thrown to the outside of the drum. If the wet fabric inside the washer wads up, catches other heavy wet clothes like a net or falls only to one side of the drum, the drum can be unbalanced.
  • How to Repair
    • Load your washer carefully. Separate loads by size and fabric weight. For top-loading washers, load in a circle making sure that clothing is evenly distributed all the way around the central post.
    • Do not wash anything else with fitted sheets or other items that tend to catch the contents of a washer and clump them up.

Shock Absorber Troubles

If it’s not the feet and it’s not the load balance, then your problem is most likely the shock absorbers that hold the washer drum in place. For both front-loading and top-loading washers, you may notice an increased amount of shaking, vibrating, and clunking washer noise when the shock absorbers aren’t performing up to par. The shock absorbers are meant to gently hold the drum in place, but they can become detached, start leaking lubricant, or break over time and with heavy use.

This may be the time to call a repair service. But if you’re comfortable opening up your washer, you can safely diagnose the issue. Follow the instructions for your model of washer to remove the front panel. You should be able to identify one of three problems by looking at the shock absorbers connected to the outside of the drum.

Detached Shock Absorber

  • Is This Your Problem?
    • If you can see that one end of a shock absorber has come loose, then your problem is a detached shock absorber and this may be a quick fix.
  • Why This Problem
    • When a washer shakes and spins during the wash cycle, it’s possible for the shock absorber connection to come unhooked which makes the washer vulnerable to more shaking in the future.
    • Possibly the result of uneven feet throwing off the shock absorber’s tension contact.
  • How to Repair
    • Simply reach in and reattach the shock absorber if you understand where it goes and how it attaches.
    • If the connection is broken, order a replacement part or call a repair service.

Leaking Shock Absorber

  • Is This Your Problem?
    • If you can see the outside of a shock absorber covered in oil or leaking a puddle of oil, then the shock absorber has lost its ability to function.
  • Why This Problem
    • Shock absorbers rely on a lubricant fluid to absorb the shocks of your washing machine spin cycles. If the fluid springs a leak, the shock absorber can no longer transfer force into the fluid.
  • How to Repair
    • You will need to replace the broken shock absorber. If you are confident with washer repairs, you can order a new part and DIY. If not, call a repair service.

Broken Shock Absorber

  • Is This Your Problem?
    • If you can see that a shock absorber is visibly broken or missing pieces that the other absorbers have, then this is your problem.
  • Why This Problem
    • Shock absorbers can break for a number of reasons including age, uneven feet, and impacts with the washer.
  • How to Repair
    • Again, you will need to replace the broken shock absorber. Order a replacement part and install it yourself or call a repair service to take care of it professionally.

Repairing Your Shaking and Vibrating Washer

If your problem is with the feet or the load balance, then it’s easy to fix your vibrating washer at home without assistance. However, if the problem is deeper, decide on your own comfort level with self-repairs. If you’re handy or trained in appliance repair, then replace your shock absorbers with confidence. Or if you’d rather make sure it’s done right by a professional, call a repair service before your laundry starts to pile up.

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