Why Your Washer is Making Banging Sounds

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Washing machines are notoriously noisy.  They fill and whir, they commonly hum and shake. It’s normal to close your washer into a closet or basement or garage to keep the noise out of the living space. Ignoring washer noises becomes a part of everyday life. But when your washer starts to bang and make clanging sounds, it’s time for inspection. Washing machines spin a metal drum full of water and wet clothing at high velocity. They are designed to contain their internal inertial forces, but clanging means that parts are touching that isn’t meant to touch.

Banging and clanging sound almost always mean that the washer drum is swinging out of its track and hitting the washer cabinet. This might also result in hitting the wall and impacting other internal components in the process of this swing. Something is wrong with the drum and causing it to swing  — off-kilter — at high velocity. The longer the banging persists and the more frequently it happens, the bigger a problem you have.

So let’s dive right into troubleshooting your washer and repairing the cause of that loud wobbling drum. 

Too Many Clothes in the Drum

Check how you are loading the washer drum.  The way you load will influence the way the clothes spin in the drum. The drum is intended to agitate clothing with water and soap to create suds and wash dirt out of the fibers. If you pack the drum too tightly, your clothes won’t be able to agitate and wash properly. A very packed washer might not even be able to spin properly because the balance inside the drum will be wrong and cannot be corrected by swirling water.

Reduce your laundry load size. For top-load washers, only load up to 80% of the drum. For front-load washers, load up to 60% of the drum, as front-load washers tend toward smaller loads and need more room to agitate properly against gravity. 

Unevenly Loaded Clothes in the Drum

Be careful how you balance a load of clothes as well. Front-load or top-load, your washer drum needs to spin in a balanced fashion. If something pushes harder on one side of the drum, then the drum can wobble and rock off-track of the intended spin. This is the single most common cause of washer banging sounds that can be quickly fixed by adjusting your laundry.

When you fill the washer. make sure to distribute clothing evenly into the drum. Sort light and heavy fabric items so that no items significantly outweigh others in a load. It’s often smart to wash towels and sturdy jeans separately, and bedding in its own load. 

Washer Feet are Not Level

Most of the time, washers make banging sounds because the drum is off-balance, but sometimes it’s the entire washer. If one of your washer feet is too short or on uneven ground, your washer may wobble during the spin cycle. This wobble can cause two different kinds of banging. First, it can throw off the drum and cause it to hit the inside of the cabinet. Second, it can cause the washer itself to wobble and knock into a nearby wall, counter, or the dryer next to it. This, too, can create a repeated clanging sound while not necessarily being caused by the drum.

To balance your washer, grab a bubble level, and test the bottom line. Twist the feet of your washer in or out to set the correct length. Adjust each foot until your washer is level in every direction. 

Drum Screws are Loose

At this point, we are moving beyond easy-to-fix solutions. If the problem isn’t how you’re loading the washer or the washer’s balance, then it’s an internal component relating to the drum. You will need to open up your washer cabinet while wearing work gloves to protect your hands from sharp metal panel edges. For top-loading washers, remove the top panel and/or the back panel. For front-loading washers, remove the top panel and the front panel to access the drum.

The first thing to check for inside your washer is the drum screws. The drums crews secure the drum to its basket and stabilization system. Look for loose screws and tighten any you find. Loose drum screws can allow the drum to wobble inside the cabinet even if carefully loaded and balanced. 

Broken Basket or Drum Spyder Arms

The dryer drum basket is a bracing system that holds the metal drum and keeps it connected to the spinning motor and bearing system. Your drum might be held in a basket or a piece called a drum spyder. A drum spyder is just a multi-armed ring that holds the washer drum while it spins. Check for cracks and broken pieces in your drum basket or spyder arms. One broken arm or a broken stabilizing plastic piece can cause the entire drum to shake during the spin cycle. 

Worn Out Tub Bearing

The tub bearing is the part of the assembly that allows the tub to spin smoothly. It may include ball bearings or similar mechanism to help keep the spin friction-free and on-track every single rotation. The tub bearing is essential to the function of your washer and it does wear out over time. If your tub bearing is at fault, you will need to uninstall the drum to access the bearing and replace it. 

Trouble with the Drive Pulley, or Belt

A washing machine’s drum is spun by a motor and belt system, often assisted by a sequence of pulleys. These allow the drum not only to spin in one direction but to agitate quickly back and forth when filled with water. The belt system relies on a good-quality belt, a working motor, and aligned pulleys. If anyone of these elements breaks down, the whole system fails. As breakage happens, your washer drum will stop spinning correctly and the drum may wobble to create a banging sound. 

Unstable or Broken Shock Absorbers

Lastly, don’t forget to check your shock absorbers. Front-loading washers have special springs attached to the sides that help the drum to spin even though it is horizontal. If your shock absorbers have disconnected or worn out, they will need to be replaced.

—Repairing your washing machine is something anyone can approach. The most important thing to remember is that you can call for appliance repair assistance at any time in the process. Investigate for yourself and call in for professional back-up when it comes time to take apart your washer. Or if you’re handy, investigate and call for a second opinion before making major changes.

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