A shaking washing machine can sometimes look and sound quite alarming.
Since they’re large appliances, and very heavy once fully loaded with clothes, a vibrating machine can really make it sound as though the whole building is shaking.
A little vibration is pretty normal for most cycles, but if it gets to loud thumps and bangs that can be something to take notice of.
Not only can this be quite concerning sometimes, it can be very annoying and distracting for anyone in the house, or if you live in a block of flats, it can be annoying for people above or below you!
Moreover, if it’s really violent shaking, this can actually cause damage to your machine.
But what causes a washing machine to do this?
The most common causes of a washing machine violently shaking are improper loading or uneven feet. Luckily, these causes can be easily fixed. There are some more complex causes that sometimes need a professional to sort, such as replacing shock absorbers.
If your machine has started to vibrate or shake a lot more than normal, then this guide will show you how to go about troubleshooting, as well as how to solve some of the simpler issues.
What Causes a Washing Machine to Shake?
There are few different reasons why your machine might start to shake. It’s more common for front load washing machines to shake than for top load ones, due to the faster spin cycles.
Improper loading: If the washing machine becomes unbalanced, this can cause it to rock back and forth, which will turn into violent shaking when it’s in the middle of a fast spin cycle.
A common cause of imbalance is due to the loading. It’s important to try and keep the load distributed evenly when putting a set of laundry on to wash.
Something like a large blanket, once wet, can hug or stick to the side of the drum during washing, which will throw the machine off balance.
When washing large items such as this, washing them in pairs is a good idea, to keep the balance of the machine level.
Leveling: Washing machines will have adjustable feet which are either automatically adjusted during cycles or can be manually adjusted.
These are usually there to account for uneven or slanted flooring so that the machine stays level at all times.
If, when setting up the machine for the first time, these aren’t completely level, this will allow the machine to rock back and forth and lead to shaking when it is running.
Stacking kit: Some washers and dryers are able to be stacked on top of one another with an accompanying stacking kit.
This kit is designed to keep the whole arrangement stable and together.
However, this set up is quite prone to shaking due to the off balance in the washer.
If the kit is fitted poorly or if it is missing altogether then there will definitely be some shaking (probably from both the washer AND the dryer).
Pump filter: If the pump filter becomes clogged by something solid (a hard item left in pockets for example) this can lead to vibration.
The filter is designed to catch these kind of items (buttons, coins etc.) so that they don’t enter the drain hose and cause serious problems down the line.
Blockages here cause vibration which can become strong shaking during a wash cycle.
Installation: If your machine is shaking even on your first use, make sure you’ve taken all the installation materials off.
There will be protective polystyrene and some transportation bolts attached to the washing machine.
The bolts are fixed to the back at the machine and hold the drum in place to stop it being damaged during transportation.
If these are still in, the whole appliance will shake as the drum will cause the entire machine to wobble.
The protective polystyrene strip will usually be located on the bottom of the machine, which can cause an imbalance, which will lead to shaking.
Shock absorbers: Front load washing machines have these shock absorbers to reduce and dampen drum movement during the cycle.
These can weaken over time and even become damaged. If this does happen, there will be shaking and movement of other components in the washing machine.
Weakened shock absorbers will exacerbate any issues caused by improper loading as the drum will be able to move more freely and cause more shaking.
This can also lead to damage to other components in the washing machine as the movement is no longer dampened.
These are the most common causes of shaking during a spin cycle and now you know what to look for, so let’s look at how to solve some of these issues.
How to Stop Your Washing Machine from Shaking
Now that you’re confident in troubleshooting the cause of the shaking, you probably want to know if and how you can fix it.
This depends on what the issue is. For the most part, it’s possible to fix yourself, but sometimes a professional will be needed.
Correct loading: I’ve written a piece on the best way to load your washing machine, so if you saw that then you already know how important it is to properly load your machine.
Essentially, it’s best to try and evenly distribute the weight of your washing load. If you’re washing one large item like a sheet, then try and have another in there to balance it out.
If you notice thumping and shaking you can even pause the cycle and see if a larger item has become bundled and started to hug one side of the drum.
Installation: As mentioned above, making sure that the machine is installed correctly will help prevent some of the shaking issues.
Removing the transportation bolts from the back will stop some of the shaking.
The polystyrene strip at the bottom will cause an uneven surface so removing this is key. You can find it on the bottom of the machine attached with some tape that is easy to remove.
It is also important to make sure the feet are level here as well.
If your machine is fitted with manually adjusted feet then you can turn these to adjust them. Using a spirit level will help you gauge whether or not your machine is level.
Self-adjusting feet may require you to slightly lift the machine to allow the feet to adjust themselves to the correct height.
Shock absorbers: Unfortunately, if you suspect that it is these that are causing the issues, then this is very difficult to fix at home.
Fixing this involves going into the inner workings of the machine, which is not recommended for a DIY job, so a professional is best in this instance.
And there you have it. If your machine is shaking violently, there’s a good chance you can fix it yourself relatively easily (saving you money and future damage to your washing machine).
In very select cases, a professional will need to be called to carry out repairs or replacements, but this isn’t that likely.
Once you’ve fixed it you can rest easy that your machine is behaving as it should and you can be happy that it’s quiet again!
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