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How To Fix a Washer That Shakes

A washing machine may wiggle, rattle or move across the floor. It is often accompanied by excessive noise. There can be several causes and the problem is worse with some machines more than others.

Caution: Please read our safety information before attempting any testing or repairs.

Before working on the washer, unplug the appliance or shut off the power at the fuse box or breaker panel to avoid an electrical shock hazard.

The most common cause is an unbalanced wash load. Open the lid and when it comes to a stop, redistribute the clothing to balance the weight. Heavy loads, especially things like comforters, are more likely to become unbalanced than small loads. If you do a lot of heavy loads, you should consider a heavy duty/large capacity washer when it comes time to replace your current unit.

A washer must be level both from side to side as well as from front to back. Washing machines have adjustable feet to enable you to level them. See our article on how to level your washing machine.

The outer tub is supported by springs, pistons or counterweights to keep it balanced. The weight of all that water in a wash load requires a powerful balancing mechanism. If the balancing system becomes detached from one or more points, it will not be able to balance the load properly. Furthermore, even if everything appears to be in place, as the appliance ages, the springs or pistons may begin to wear out and not support as much weigh as needed.

Unplug the washer and open the cabinet. Because of the variety of balancing mechanisms, you will have to inspect your machine to determine how it is balanced. Once you discover the mechanism, then inspect it for integrity. In the case of old parts that appear to be in working order, you may not be able to tell if they need to be replaced. They may be weak but appear to be in good condition. If no other solution resolves the problem, then replacing the balancing springs or other moving support parts may be called for.

Another common cause for excessive movement is the floor on which the washer rests. The washer is heavy and even more so when filled with water. Any floor, other than a concrete slab, will tend to pick up and amplify the vibrations from the machine.

There are a couple things you can try. If you have access to the joists under the floor, you may be able to beef up the support. Another thing to try is placing a large sheet of plywood under the washer. It should be 3/4" or even 1" thick and as large as possible to distribute the weight. Use a sheet big enough for both the washer and dryer to sit on. If possible fasten the plywood to the existing floor.

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