Washing machines contain a drum that spins during the wash and rinse cycles. This drum is mounted inside the machine using various components including ball bearings, suspension springs, and drive belts.
Over time and heavy use, the mounting components in the drum can weaken or become damaged leading to a loose drum. When this happens, you’ll notice loud banging noises when the drum spins or find it shifts unevenly from side to side.
Without timely repair, a loose drum will only become looser until the machine fails.
The good news is a loose washing machine drum can often be repaired or adjusted before any serious damage occurs.
In this article, we’ll explore the step-by-step process for diagnosing and fixing a wobbly drum so you can get your washer spinning smoothly again.
How to Troubleshoot A Loose Washing Machine Drum?
Over time, a once stable drum assembly can work itself loose. How can you tell if your washer drum is becoming less snug?
Here are the key signs:
- Loud banging noises coming from inside during the spin cycle
- The entire body of the machine rocks and vibrates excessively
- The central tub audibly scrapes against the outer tub
- Laundry seems to become frequently unbalanced during the final spin
Inspecting Tub Mounts and Retention Parts
Confirming a loose drum often requires removing the back service panel or front control panel to visually inspect tub stabilization parts.
Be sure to disconnect electrical power before accessing internal components for safety.
Focus your troubleshooting inspection on these common failure points:
- Shock Absorbers – Leaking oil indicates worn-out shocks unable to dampen tub movement
- Suspension Springs – Look for detached or stretched springs that no longer support the centered position of the spinning drum
- Tub Bearings – Rotate the drum manually feeling for scrapping and uneven resistance indicating bearing wear
- Snubber Ring – Note if this tub base cushion is cracked, overly compressed, or missing
- Dampening Straps – Frayed or detached straps can’t limit side-to-side tub motion during spin
Replacing worn shocks, springs, and other drum retention parts often eliminates the loose and unstable feel of the tub rotation.
An unbalanced washing machine also mimics symptoms of a loose mount. Be sure to perform standard leveling procedures using an accurate spirit level placed on the machine body.
Additionally, prevent future imbalance by loading properly without overstuffing the drum capacity.
With some involved disassembly and replacement of worn parts, the noisy chaos of a washing machine unhinged tub will give way to smoothly spinning laundry loads once more.
Just take your time accessing components safely and methodically rule out each potential source of sloppy operation.
What Causes a Washing Machine Drum to Become Loose and How to Fix It
There are a few common reasons why your washing machine drum might become loose over time. In this section, we’ll look at the most common reasons and provide you with a detailed step-by-step guide to fix them.
1. Worn Out Drum Bearings
The drum bearings allow the inner wash tub to spin smoothly around the drive shaft. These bearings enable the drum to turn effortlessly during wash and rinse cycles.
However, after years of friction, these bearings gradually wear down. As they become rougher, the drive shaft connection loosens leading to drum wobble and vibration.
Replacing old bearings is usually required to stop washer tub sloppiness.
To replace worn-out drum bearings, follow the steps outlined below:
- Unplug the washing machine from the power source. Turn off water supply lines as well.
- Remove the washer back panel to access internal components. Refer to the owner’s manual if needed.
- Locate the large rear outer tub with a central drive shaft. This holds the perforated wash drum (inner tub) which contains the clothing.
- Check where the drive shaft enters the rear outer tub. Ball bearings or roller bearings allow the inner drum and shaft to rotate smoothly.
- Place a socket wrench on the bearing retainer nut. Turn counterclockwise to completely loosen the retainer.
- Use a rubber mallet and wood block to gently tap the bearing in the opposite direction of the shaft if still stuck in place. Avoid damage to surfaces.
- Remove old worn bearings and clean shaft and tub surfaces with emery cloth to remove rust and debris.
- Press carefully but firmly to insert new replacement bearings into the opening. Make sure the lip snaps fully into place.
- Reinstall retainer nuts using a socket wrench and tighten them per specifications. Do not over tighten.
- Reconnect all parts removed for access. Verify no loose debris remains inside the machine cavity before replacing panels.
- Restore electrical power and water supply. Test spin a load without clothing as an initial recheck before regular usage.
2. Damaged or Unhooked Suspension Springs
Top-load and some front-load washing machines rely on heavy-duty metal springs to stabilize the outer tub. These suspension springs absorb shock and impact as the wash drum spins rapidly.
However vigorous machine use can over-stretch or even unhook these essential parts.
When suspension springs become loose, detached, or broken, the drum loses needed support. This imbalance produces a very shaky tub and loud banging noises.
To fix damaged or unhooked suspension rings, do the following:
- Gain back panel access then inspect tub springs mounting to frame and outer tub.
- Note any stretched, fatigued, or disconnected springs that no longer support tub control.
- Use locking pliers to detach spring hooks from slots or holes at the bracket or tub. Save components being re-used.
- Examine and obtain matching replacement suspension spring assembly parts from an appliance dealer.
- Attach the new top hook of the spring to the tub. Use pliers to compress the coil of the spring and carefully guide the lower hook into the frame mount slot without releasing it until seated firmly.
- Repeat the previous step for all of the suspension springs. Be sure to install the springs evenly around the entire circumference of the tub assembly.
- Tightly reconnect any other brackets or fasteners released to access parts. Verify no gaps or misalignment.
- Replace panels and visually confirm drum remains centered without rubbing against anything before reconnecting power and supply hookups.
3. Overloading the Drum
It can be tempting to cram as much dirty laundry as possible into a single load. However, overstuffing the wash drum stresses key components including shocks, springs, and bearings. The extra weight also throws off the delicate balance needed for smooth spinning.
Over time, overloading causes more pronounced machine rocking and tub vibration. This strains mountings like suspension rods and hardware until something gives way resulting in a loose, uneven drum rotation.
Here are some tips you should follow to avoid overloading the drum:
- Refer to the owner’s manual for the maximum dry clothes capacity of your washing machine model. This is the total combined weight the drum can handle per load.
- Weigh clothes on a bathroom scale before loading if uncertain. Do full loads but avoid exceeding the recommended weight.
- Mix lightweight and heavy items in the wash basket instead of washing predominantly heavy fabrics like jeans. Distribute loads evenly around the drum.
- Set washer to lower spin speed like Delicates or Hand Wash cycles if necessary to reduce imbalance with larger loads.
- Allow extra rinse cycles to reduce strains on internal components when managing very soiled clothing.
- Upgrade to a larger capacity washer if your lifestyle frequently requires overloaded size batches. This reduces long-term equipment wear.
4. Loose Bolts or Nuts
Vibration is the mortal enemy of any nut or bolt. Constant machine shaking works fasteners loose over months and years of use. Soon, essential hardware like tub mounts, bearing housings, and suspension rod brackets wiggle free.
Missing or loose hardware introduces too much play around the drum. What’s worse, detached bolts and nuts tend to clang loudly around inside the machine’s body!
To tighten loose bolts and nuts, do the following:
- Unplug the machine and shut off water feeds before accessing the back panel per standard procedure.
- Based on schematics, carefully inspect bolts/nuts securing the control panel, balance ring, suspension rods, and shock mounts using a flashlight and tools.
- Tighten any visually loosened hardware first using a proper-sized wrench or ratchet and socket. Take care not to strip threads by over-tightening.
- Operate a brief empty spin cycle while observing the movement of internal assemblies through the opening. Mark spots of increased play.
- Stop the spin cycle and firmly tighten any hardware that you identified as loose in the previous step. Be slow and methodical and check for any changes in movement as you tighten the hardware.
- Before reattaching the panels, verify that all of the bolts and nuts that you inspected are now snug. If you find any loose parts that you were not able to tighten, attach a label to them so that you can remove them later.
5. Cracked Inner Drum Support
Some top-load designs include a reinforced hub at the rear of the wash basket. This inner support spider mounts to the outer tub and drive system.
However, manufacturer defects, rust corrosion, and persistent imbalance can crack this vital component. Once the support spider network fractures, the drum loses a key balancing structure. Subsequently, the basket becomes less stable, especially at higher RPMs.
To fix a cracked inner drum support, do the following:
- Unplug the power cord and water lines as usual before accessing the back panel.
- Locate the central perforated wash basket and examine where it joins the outer tub shell.
- A molded reinforced support disc or multi-arm spider brace should be visibly connected to the tub and basket.
- Check closely for cracks or breaks in this rear brace using a flashlight. Confirm this is the source of increased drum looseness.
- With the basket securely held by a partner, detach the mounting hardware to remove the basket and defective support piece from the outer tub. This may require a socket wrench or other tools.
- Purchase a matching replacement spider brace or support disc for your model and connect the new part properly before reinstalling the wash basket.
- Before replacing the access panels, make sure that all of the rear drum stabilization components are aligned firmly. There should be no space gaps between the components.
6. Unlevel Washer
Washing machines need to sit perfectly flat and stable to balance the spin cycle forces. However uneven floors or improper installation can tilt the body over time.
When that happens, one side may tend to sink lower which stresses important shock absorbers, tub mounts, and suspension springs unevenly. One compromised side component then overstretches or fails, resulting in tub wobble and eventual looseness.
You can level your washer by following these tips:
- Confirm if your machine is on an even floor. You can shim with plywood if the surface varies significantly side-to-side or front-to-back.
- Place a spirit-level tool on top of the machine. Check if the bubble centers between lines. Mark the high side if it is uneven.
- Loosen lock nuts using a wrench and extend the legs on the lower side while shortening the opposite leg a little.
- Continue adjusting the legs in small increments while frequently rechecking the level indicator until the washtub sits perfectly even.
- Once the machine is level, tighten the lock nuts on all of the legs. Be careful not to overtighten the lock nuts, as this could damage the legs.
- Run the machine on an empty spin cycle to make sure that it is not wobbling or shaking. If the machine is still wobbling or shaking, you may need to make further adjustments to the legs.
Related Article: Washing Machine Unbalanced
7. Worn Out or Damaged Tub Bearing
Separate from the central drum bearings, some washers have a tub bearing further supporting the suspended basket. Excessive side-to-side motion places extraordinary wear on this bearing behind the outer tub.
Once worn or defective, the additional play introduced leads to a loose, unstable spinning drum.
Follow these steps to replace a worn-out or damaged tub bearing:
- Disconnect all power and water and access the back of the washer according to your model’s instructions.
- Locate the large outer stainless tub and find the bearing where it joins the central agitator or drum spine.
- Inspect the bearing brackets for any signs of damage, such as dents, cracks, or rust. You should also check for any movement play in the bearing. To do this, try wiggling the outer tub back and forth.
- Supporting the heavy outer tub, detach brackets or retainers to fully expose the bearing assembly. This may require an assistant. Use care not to bend laundry vanes.
- Once the bearing assembly is exposed, you can use a wood block and mallet to tap the old bearing out of the tub opening. Be careful not to damage the tub opening.
- After the old bearing has been removed, you should scrape away any residual rust or caulking materials from the tub opening.
- Firmly seat replacement bearing into the prepared opening cavity according to orientation guides, so flanges fit into slots.
- Once the replacement bearing is in place, secure it with the brackets, retainers, and hardware that you removed earlier. Tighten per specifications without stripping.
- Before you reattach the back panels of the washing machine, you should test spin the empty tub to check for any noise or wobble. If there is any noise or wobble, you may need to adjust the bearing.
- Once you are sure that the bearing is secure and that the tub is spinning properly, you can reattach all of the back panels of the washing machine.
8. Faulty Suspension Rods
Suspension rods mount the upper tub to the cabinet on some front-load designs. Like springs, these rods cushion movement and g-forces.
Bent or broken mounting rods reduce stability by limiting tub motion control. Subsequently, the unsupported side loses dampening ability leading to drum imbalance.
Are you dealing with faulty suspension rods? Follow these steps to fix them:
- Evaluate accessibility to suspension rod hardware before disconnecting electrical power and hoses. Have helpers available if needed to complete full rod detachment safely.
- Release rod attaching hardware at the cabinet mount point using proper tools. Carefully shift the tub and unload the rod bracket from the slot.
- Inspect rod ends and shaft for cracks or excessive bending. Check brackets and slots for damage.
- Obtain a new replacement suspension rod assembly matching your model from an appliance parts supplier if repair is impossible.
- Stand prepared to support tub weight as assistants guide refreshed suspension mounting hardware through slots simultaneously.
- Confirm visually that all rods align the tub centered before completing all safety reconnections for testing. Listen closely for any noises suggesting corrections are still needed.
9. Damaged Shock Absorber
Front-loading machines rely on heavy-duty hydraulic shock absorbers at the tub base. When worn out or leaking, these crucial dampeners cannot mitigate the intense, rapid shifts inside the washer. This leads to uncontrolled tub motion, excessive vibration, and eventual drum looseness.
To replace a damaged shock absorber, follow these steps:
- Unplug the washer and turn off water supply lines before accessing internal components.
- Carefully tip the washing machine back to access the base. Front-load models have 2 shock absorbers here.
- Evaluate if shocks are leaking thick oil. Check if the piston rod moves freely without resistance. Stiff operation or bending indicates a defective part.
- Use a wrench to completely detach damaged shocks from the tub and cabinet mounts. Dispose properly.
- Secure replacement shock absorber assemblies designed for your make and model. Ensure piston rods face the correct direction before tightening all hardware firmly.
- Restore the washing machine to its upright position. Wipe up any spilled oil completely and test spin performance before regular operation.
10. Faulty Dampening Straps
Top-load washers often have flexible straps running along the cabinet walls to limit side-to-side tub motion.
Excessive years of use can stiffen or even snap these rubber vibration-absorbing straps. The resulting harsh motion places more stress on suspension rods and bolts contributing to an increasingly loose drum rotation.
To replace damaged or faulty dampening straps on your washer, follow these steps:
- Gain entry to interior tub components using back or front panel access according to directions.
- Locate flexible rubber straps linking upper tub edges to cabinet side walls on top-load designs.
- Inspect straps closely for cracking, advanced wearing, brittleness, and other degradation. Note any that fail to stretch freely when manipulated by hand.
- Use locking pliers to detach bad straps from hardware mount points along the upper tub rim. Avoid component damage.
- Obtain full replacement strap kits matching your model with the correct shape and length. Carefully compress strap ends simultaneously to insert hardware links into tub slots until both ends snap fully into place.
- Tug firmly on straps by hand ensuring both ends remain tightly anchored. Replace cabinet access panels before testing spin cycle performance.
As you can see, worn bearings, broken springs, overload strain, and basic hardware failure are common ways your washing machine tub ends up with too much wiggle room. Thankfully, most of these issues can be corrected with a few upgrades and replacements from your appliance parts distributor.
Dealing with a shaky, loud washing machine doesn’t have to mean it’s the end of the road for your faithful cleaner. In most cases, a loose tub or drum is repairable with some targeted troubleshooting and affordable replacement parts.
By methodically accessing key internal stabilization points, you can diagnose issues with shocks, springs, bearings, and basic hardware that introduce wobble over years of wash cycles.
Don’t ignore loud banging noises and excessive vibration – a loose mount will only deteriorate further.
With some perseverance and our guide, the satisfyingly smooth spin of a balanced tightly mounted drum will be restored. No more walking, shaking and clattering means happier laundering and longevity for your washing machine.
Invest a little sweat equity and parts cash to renew this workhorse before untreated sloppiness takes out the motor prematurely.