Why is my washing machine making a rumbling noise?

If your washing machine does start to make a rumbling noise, the first thing you must do is not to ignore it.  The longer this particular problem is left, the more expensive it becomes to fix.

This rumbling indicates that the bearings in the machine are wearing, and need to be replaced.  This is far more difficult than it sounds, and it sounds difficult to start with.Unless you are extremely capable with machinery it is best to leave this particular operation to a qualified service engineer.  You could, at the very least, call in an engineer to give you an opinion of whether it is possible to actually replace the bearings, and how much it will cost.


Accessing washing machine bearings

Basically there are three options which manufacturers when building their machines.  These will vary depending on the price level of your machine.  Generally, the cheaper the machine, the more expensive the repair (see Option 3)

  • Split Outer tanks – bearings will be located in the rear section of the tank
  • Bearing spiders – you can remove the spider to replace the bearings
  • Sealed tanks – these are not serviceable at all, and impossible to replace the bearings

Most modern machines will fall into Options 1 and 3 above, more especially on the lower price machines. Option 2 will be found on older machines, or those at the more expensive end of the market.

Option 3 – Sealed Outer Tanks

The cost of replacing the bearings in this type of machine will cost more than a brand new machine, as you have to take the whole machine to pieces to get to the bearings, and will then have to replace the complete inner drum and outer tank assembly.  

This is definitely a case of built-in obsolescence, requiring you to completely replace your washing machine.  It is worth considering whether it is economic to buy a cheap machine that can’t be repaired, or spend more in the first place and have a better machine that can be repaired, and therefore, have its working life extended.

Option 1 – Split Outer Tank

This is probably the most common type of drum configuration in modern washing machines, and can be repaired.  It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that this is a big job and unless you’re very competent, it is the type of job that generally should only be tackled by a professional service engineer.  You can always start by asking for a quotation for the job before making your decision.

The outer tank splits in two which allows you to remove the inner drum and replace the bearings.  The biggest issue here though is that the entire assembly has to be removed from the outer casing to get the whole assembly out before you can start working.

Unfortunately, there is no option to this, in order to be able to split the outer casing, you have to have the whole assembly out of the machine.  This means that all electrics, hoses and suspension has to be taken before you can remove the assembly.  This is definitely not a job for the faint-hearted, and you must really be aware of what steps you are taking to ensure it all goes back in correctly, or you may well have to start again.

Once you have removed the screws and/or clips which hold the two halves of the outer tank together, you will see a seal, which should also be replaced before fitting the outer tank back  together.

Since there is a larger bearing and a water seal to prevent water getting back in, the inner drum must also be removed – there is no other way for this job to be done.

Option 2 – Removable Bearing Spiders

This is definitely the most easy method of replacing bearings, and will make you appreciate the better quality washing machine.  

It is probably worth checking which makes and models use this particular option when researching a future replacement washing machine.These spiders are made from cast iron and are therefore very durable.  They will certainly stand much harder knocks than their cheaper plastic counterparts.  In most cases, with some knowledge and ability, this is a job that can be done without the need to call on the services on an engineer.

You must, of course, proceed with caution and always, always make sure that the power is completely disconnected before starting any kind of maintenance work on your washing machine.  Concerns for your safety must be paramount.








Disclaimer: The information provided has been prepared as a guide only and the steps taken are likely to vary for different appliance models. We strongly recommend using a qualified engineer to undertake major repairs and fault finding.


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