When you use a washing machine, the drum you put your clothes into is rotated with the aid of a bearing, which eases friction on the machine as your clothes spin. As such, bearings are a vital part of the machine. But because they are constantly getting soaked, they may break down more quickly than the rest of the appliance. If your washing machine is making a loud, grinding or rumbling noise when it’s in use, the bearings are likely to blame. Learn to diagnose a bearing problem, so you can do your laundry without the risk of damaging your machine or your eardrums.
Remember, before you undertake any repair, first disconnect the power to the washing machine by pulling the plug and shutting off the breaker for the appliance.
Know the Symptoms
Whether you have a front-loading or top-loading washer, the machine turns due to bearings on the axis that will eventually need to be replaced, usually due to water seeping through the seal and rusting the bearing. This will usually happen about 10 years into the life span of your washer. The classic symptom of a rusted bearing is a noisy washer, but other things can cause washing machine noise too. Noise could also indicate a problem with the pump and pump motor, the drive belt or shock absorbers. Note that a bearing problem will occur during the spin cycle of the machine. You should be able to replicate this noise by giving the machine a hard spin yourself, by hand. And you may be able to see signs of a leak near the seal location.
Know Where the Bearings Are Located
Both front-loading and top-loading washers usually have two bearings. In a top-loading washer, one bearing is where the shaft attaches to the inner tub, and one is near the input of the transmission. In a front-loading washer, the bearings are usually at the rear of the outer tub.
Replacing the Bearings and the Tub Seal
On most washing machine models, you should be able to remove the outer tub and access the bearings using standard hand tools. A rusted bearing needs replacement. You can buy bearings through your appliance manufacturer, an appliance supply store or hardware store. While you are replacing your bearing, it's a good idea to replace the tub seal as well. Even if you cannot see the source of the leak, this inexpensive fix will give your washer a new lease on life.