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How do I Balance a Washing Machine?

By Kendra Redman
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are a couple of different ways to balance a washing machine, but in most cases you’ll want to determine what’s causing the instability; fixing that will usually fix the problem. Balance issues with washers tend to be some of the easiest to solve, and most of the time they’re temporary. The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that you aren’t overloading the machine. Even if a lot of clothing and other articles will fit in the basin, they all need room to freely spin. You should also make sure that the machine is level, and check the fidelity and tightness of the drum bolts. It’s also usually a good idea to look at how the machine is placed on the floor. If the feet aren’t even or if the washer is on a flimsy or worn platform, you might need to provide a more stable foundation. In most cases you should be able to balance your washing machine yourself, but if the machine still rocks and thumps despite your best efforts, it may be time to call in a professional.

Understanding Balance Generally

The first thing most people notice about an unbalanced washing machine is that it rocks and shakes violently during the wash cycle. Ideally, machines should clean clothes and other materials rather quietly. Some noise and vibration is to be expected, of course, but in situations of true imbalance, the issue is usually very noticeable — and, if not corrected, it can lead to more serious issues. The longer a washing machine is left to bang and roll, the more likely it is that other internal components will wear down and malfunction. Checking and fixing balance is usually something you can do without help.

Important Safety Precautions

Before you begin, it’s important that you turn the machine off and unplug it. Shutting off power to the outlet at your home’s fuse box is another option. For safety’s sake it’s important that whatever machine you’re investigating be solidly disconnected from power before you start. Leaving it “live” can cause damage to either you or it.

Check the Load

Once the area is safe, you can begin to balance a washing machine by checking the load of wash to see if it is causing the problem. Heavy or unusually large loads are often to blame. If a load is in progress, open the washing machine lid or door and redistribute the items inside. If redistributing the contents and restarting the machine does not resolve the problem, take some clothes out, as smaller loads are less likely to become unbalanced.

Make Sure the Machine is Level

The problem also might be that the machine isn’t level. You can check this fairly easily by putting a carpenter’s level against the machine. If the reading shows tilt, check to see if the feet are adjustable, and look to see if they’re all at about the same height. Adjusting the feet until the machine is sitting level can be a good option. If you cannot adjust the feet, try placing a piece of foam or rubber under the foot that appears to have the problem.

Evaluate Drum Bolts

The compartment inside a washing machine where the clothes are placed is called the drum. Many machines have a weight attached to this drum that is designed to prevent too much vibration. Check to see if the bolts on the drum are loose, and if so, tighten them using a wrench. This is particularly important if your machine is brand new. Many new washers aren’t properly tightened in the factory, and you may also find packing materials or stabilizers in the drum that are supposed to be removed before use. A restraining bolt usually holds the drum in place during transport, for instance, and if this is not removed it can cause problems. Check the drum for a bolt or clips and make sure nothing is blocking movement.

Consider Floor Reinforcements

The best surface for a washing machine, particularly a front loader, is a concrete floor. Washing machines can become very heavy due to the weight of the water. If the machine is not on concrete, you may want to reinforce the floor joists, if possible, which may help balance a washing machine sitting on a floor that has sagged. If your machine is on a pedestal, you might need to think about replacing or repairing that, as well. You might want to consider calling a professional to take a look if you don’t seem to be able to fix the problem on your own. The problem might be more than just a balance issue, and in these cases it’s best to get someone with more experience to evaluate the situation.

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Discussion Comments
By anon309371 — On Dec 16, 2012

My washer started to make loud noises during the spin cycle. Then it started to make loud noises during the agitation cycle too. It sounded bad. I re-leveled the washer and now it's even quieter than before it ever started to make any noises. Balancing the washer worked great.

By Kat919 — On Jun 04, 2011

@robbie 21 - Good tip! A lot of washing machine problems (or problems with any appliance) can be avoided or solved by reading the directions!

If you can't have a concrete floor under your washing machine, ceramic tile is worth the expense, especially if it's just a small room or closet. My sister's washing machine totally tore up her laminate floor, and then she had to have it replaced--should have just had a hard floor in the first place! It also makes it easier to move the machine for maintenance.

By robbie21 — On Jun 03, 2011

If your washing machine is out of balance, some of the newer ones can sort of fix themselves. You just tilt it toward you and hold it for a second. (I think you can also tilt it away, but I'm not sure.) Check your manual. And if you're lost the manual, call the company--a lot of them either have the manual online or can send you another one for free.

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