How to Fix an Unbalanced Washer (in 3 Steps)

February 2, 2022
Washer Repair

For washing machines to work properly they need to be balanced. If the washer is unbalanced, you will likely find that it does not wash or spin as well as it should. An unbalanced washer will also often trigger an error code that will disrupt the washing cycle and potentially render the washer unusable until rebalanced. Drainage and leaking issues are also more likely to occur when the washer is unbalanced.

Fortunately, it is usually relatively easy to balance a washer.

Step 1: Adjust the washing load

When placing washing inside the washer, it is important to make sure the clothes are evenly balanced in the drum. If you have a top-load washer, clothes should be evenly balanced around the agitator. If the washer becomes unbalanced during a cycle, most washing machines will allow you to pause the cycle and rebalance the load.

Tips to balance the load:

  • Most people are aware that you should not overfill the washer and that if you do, the washer may become unbalanced. However, it can also work the other way where too few items unbalance the washing load.
  • If the washer becomes unbalanced, simply adding or removing an item or two can often fix the issue.
  • If you are washing items with strings or laces that can easily get caught or tangled up in the wash, consider using a washing machine-safe bag.
  • Make sure to select the correct cycle or mode for the type of washing load you are doing. If you are washing a large load of towels, having the washer set to a “normal” cycle can cause the washer to become unbalanced.

Step 2: Check the surface

Washing machines should sit on an even surface to work properly. A washer that sits on an uneven surface will likely have a lot of issues, such as error codes or a failure to properly spin-dry the clothes. If the washer sits on an uneven surface, its feet will need to be adjusted, or something like a strip of carpet will need to be put under the washer to balance it.

Another option is to put rubber vibration absorbers under the washer to balance and reduce shaking when the washer is operating.

Step 3: Adjust the washer’s feet

A bubble level should be used to make sure the washer is level. Once you have placed the level on the washer, you will be able to see if the washer’s feet need to be adjusted.

After checking that the washer is level from left to right, you should also check that the washer is balanced from front to back.

If you determine that the washer is unbalanced, the washer’s feet can be adjusted to balance the washer. Depending on the type of washer, it may have feet at the back that self-adjust when the front feet are adjusted.

The washer’s feet will also likely have a locking nut (also called a “jam nut”) that needs to be loosened with a wrench before your fingers can be used to adjust the feet. If a locking nut seems stuck, it is likely because of rust. Hitting the locking nut with a wrench will usually dislodge the rust.

With most washers, turning the leveling leg counter-clockwise will extend the leg and raise that corner of the washer. While rotating it clockwise will reduce the leg to bring the washer closer to the floor.

Once you have adjusted the feet to level the washer, use the wrench to tighten the locking nuts which hold the feet in place.

It is often helpful to have someone with you to move the washer and assist with adjusting the legs until the washer is level.

Other causes of an unbalanced washer

Shock Absorbers

Front-load washers typically have shock absorbers to reduce the movement of the tub when the washer is operating. If a shock absorber wears out, it can cause the washer to be unbalanced. Shock absorbers are usually located between the outer tub and base frame of the washer. If you notice a shock absorber is not connected at both ends or that it is leaking fluid, it most likely needs to be replaced or repositioned.

Driver Bearings

Front-load washers also usually have driver ball bearings between the tub spindle and the motor shaft, which help to balance the washer. Over time, the driver bearings can wear and may need to be replaced. Replacing ball bearings can be difficult and will likely require the assistance of a trained professional.

Suspension Springs

Suspension springs are used in both top-load and front-load washers to reduce vibrations and ensure the washer works correctly. If the suspension springs become loose or wear out, the washer can become unbalanced. Suspension springs can be located either beneath the tub or above the tub, where they hold the tub above the base. If a spring is loose, you may be able to reposition it, but it will most likely need to be replaced.

Snubber Ring

Top-load washers usually have a snubber ring that provides a cushion for the tub. A worn-out snubber ring will cause the tub to make contact with the base of the washer, which will likely cause the washer to be unbalanced. Dust on a plastic snubber or clumps on a felt snubber are signs of wear and that the snubber needs to be replaced.

Dampening Straps

Some top-loaders also feature four rubber straps that hold the tub to the four corners of the washer. If a dampening strap is loose or broken, the washer will become unbalanced, and the strap will need to be replaced.


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