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Is Your Washing Machine Off Balance?

Updated: 4 days ago

Ever wonder why your washing machine keeps getting out of balance during the spin cycle?

It's not always due to you improperly loading your washing machine. Sometimes there are other factors at play.

Here are some reasons your washing machine might keep getting unbalanced.

Check out these 4 tips before calling a professional for a washing machine repair.

Make sure All Shipping Materials Were Removed

If your washer is new and the problem started immediately, it is likely caused by shipping materials accidentally left in place. On a top-loading washer, a shipping bolt is installed on the bottom center of the washer. Top-loading washers also typically have three shipping bolts, spacers, and metal clamps in the back of the washer. Some models may have even more shipping materials that need to be removed. Refer to the installation instructions for your washer and make sure all shipping materials have been removed before using the machine. Failure to remove these shipping materials causes problems with the spin cycle, and it can also damage the machine permanently.

Level the Machine

Check that the machine is level across the front, back, and sides. A machine that is not level will rock during the spin cycle and cause the machine to be off balance. All four legs should be in firm contact with a solid floor. A carpeted surface can throw this balance off. If your washer is located on a pedestal, the problem can be amplified. Top-loading washers automatically adjust to level. If something has shifted, you can relevel a top-loading washer by tipping the washer forward, then placing it back on the floor. Front-loading washers level by turning a leg to raise or lower it. You may need to open the front access panel to loosen the lock nuts that control the legs.

Check for Overloading

If you tend to fill the washer completely to the top, regardless of the weight or composition of the contents, you may be overloading your machine. An easy way to check this is to run a small load. If you have no problems with a small load, consider that overloading may be causing your spin cycle balance problem.

Look for Laundry Caught Below the Tub

Laundry caught below the tub or between the agitator and the inner tub can cause the washer to operate off balance with every load. The problem can be anything: a penny that worked its way out of a pocket, a button that fell off a shirt or a wayward sock, or another article of clothing. If you cannot see a problem, you may need to remove the front or top panel and the agitator. Remove the offending item and clean out any debris. Replace the agitator and panel before running the machine again.

An out-of-level washing machine can be caused by issues with the flooring as well, obstructions under the machine, or by improperly adjusted front legs.

Common causes include:

  • Rotted floor covering

  • Deficient subfloor and joists

  • Machine resting on a soft surface, like carpeting

  • Floor not level

  • Spins with improperly loaded or heavy items like bedcovers displacing machine

  • Machine feet changing height over time

  • Front-loading washer spun faster than the top-loading washer, causing misalignment

  • Plastic washing machine pan is out of alignment

  • Loose heavy-duty anti-vibration pads under washer feet

Level on top of washing machine
Balancing a Washing Machine

When to Balance a Washing Machine

Level a washing machine only when the drum is empty of water, and initiate the spin cycle to drain the drum. Otherwise, bail out water by hand with a kitchen measuring cup.


Many Android phones already have a built-in level—no need to download a separate app. Ask for "bubble level" on Google Assistant. Apple phones also have a pre-installed level app. Open Measure, then tap Level.

Safety Considerations

Fully disconnect the washing machine before working on it. Disconnect the drain hose, drain the water, and place the end in the drum. Disconnect the hot and cold water supply hoses and drape them in the drum, too. Unplug the power cord to avoid shock.

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