How to properly Balance a Top Load Washer5 min read

If you put a load of laundry in your washing machine and it starts to shake, you might have balance issues. Although it might not seem significant at first, instability can lead to severe problems if not dealt with quickly. 

Twist the leveling feet at the bottom of the top load washer to level it. The unit’s feet typically have a locking nut that must be loosened and tightened with a wrench. The rear feet are probably self-leveling. Top load washers are prone to becoming unbalanced so be careful with load distribution and weight.

Whilst adjusting top-loading washing machine feet is straightforward, it’s important to ensure you’re actually addressing the root cause of the problem too. Within this article, I’ll walk you through how to balance your top-loader washing machine as well as examine why exactly it’s becoming unbalanced in the first place. 

4 common reasons Why your Top Load Washer becomes Unbalanced 

Top-load washing machines are more practical and wash clothes faster, but they do have the tendency to become unbalanced more often than front-loading machines. This is due to their center of gravity being higher, the lid being unlatched leading to an imbalance, and the fact that front-load washing machines distribute the load easier. 

Top Loader Washing Machine

My top-load washing machine needs rebalancing once or twice a year, even with good maintenance. However, I’d encourage you to read this section to familiarise yourself with why top-loading washing machines become imbalanced so that you can reduce the number of times you need to balance the legs. 

A failure to correctly balance your washing machine can eventually lead to many problems including a loose washing machine drum and leaks.

When the legs of your washing machine are not level, this leads to the machine being out of balance. The main things you’ll notice during the operation are noise and excessive vibrations.

You may also notice error messages relating to the machine being out of balance: 

But why would your legs become uneven in the first place? 

1. New washing machine? It could be holding screws

If you have a brand-new top-loading washing machine and have installed it correctly, you may have forgotten to remove the screws keeping the drum in place during delivery. These are otherwise known as transit bolts.

Even if your legs are balanced, double check they are removed! 

2. overloading

Heavy loads are one of the most common causes of an unbalanced washing machine. If you put too many clothes inside the unit, they can become packed together, causing the weight to shift and the machine to become unstable. Here are a few tips you can keep in mind:

  • When placing items inside the washer, ensure the clothes are evenly distributed around the agitator/impellor at the center of the drum.
  • Placing too few items in your washing machine can also cause an unbalanced load. Also, make sure to combine small and large items in the load.
  • Items with strings or laces can easily get tangled in the agitator. You can use a washing machine-safe bag to resolve this issue.

3. the load is uneven

Alongside overloading, uneven loads are another common culprit behind unbalanced washing machines.

Uneven loads occur when heavy items, like towels or sheets, are loaded on one side of the drum. This causes the weight to shift and the machine to become unstable.

4. you’re messing up the detergent!

Excessive detergent can also lead to balance issues. Using too much detergent can create excessive suds, which can affect the performance of the washer, including the spin cycle. This can make it difficult for the washer to drain, too. 

For a top-loading washer, I’d recommend choosing High-Efficiency (HE) detergent specifically designed for top-load washers like this one (on Amazon). HE detergents are designed to produce fewer suds and could prevent balance issues.  

How To Balance A Top Load Washer: easy steps

Washing machines have leveling legs that are easily adjustable and allow the machine to sit level. There are a few different styles but most have a screw to adjust the height of the leg, and a locking nut to hold it in place. They also have rubber feet to absorb vibrations. I’ll take you through the easiest way to balance top-load washers.

Step 1: Figure Out If Your Legs Are Self-Leveling

Many newer top-load washing machines have self-adjusting legs in the back. They basically use a spring mechanism allowing them to adjust their height based on the weight and angle of the washer. Check your manual to see if yours does. 

If you do have self-leveling rear legs, you’ll only need to balance the front legs. 

Step 2: Determine How Uneven Your Washing Machine Is

You’ll need to empty the drum of your top-loader washing machine and ensure the machine is in an area that you can easily access. You may need to check out how to move a stacked washer/dryer if it’s in a cupboard. 

Then rock the machine back and forth and side to side to see if it’s level. This should give you a good gauge of which legs need to be shortened or lengthened. 

Step 3: Adjust The Washing Machine Legs 

Next, you’ll need to tilt your washing machine diagonally onto its rear legs so that you can access the front feet. Check for any damage to the legs and in particular to the rubber feet, which are used to absorb shocks. 

Damaged legs will need replacing but in most cases, they can be sold separately. If the rubber feet are damaged you can either replace the leg or consider aftermarket vibration pads like these (on Amazon).  

Then raise or lower the legs by spinning the spool clockwise or anti-clockwise. The machine’s feet typically have a locking or jam nut that must be loosened with a wrench. Locking nuts can become stuck due to rust, and you may need a bit of force to dislodge them. Double check the legs are level by trial and error, then rock the machine corner to corner.

Diagram of top load washer adjustable legs

Turning the leveling leg counter-clockwise on most machines will raise that corner of the appliance. Rotating it clockwise will bring the washer closer to the floor. After you adjust the feet, use your wrench to tighten the locking nuts.

Then lock the nut tight against the cabinet so that it doesn’t move again. You might need to use a tool like a crescent wrench. 

Note: if you have self-adjusting legs at the rear, this process should now be complete. But you should double check they have automatically adjusted, otherwise, you’ll need to adjust the rear legs too.

You’ve Balanced Your Legs, And The Top-Load Washer Still Shakes? Common Causes

If you’ve leveled the feet of the washing machine and it’s still shaking, the easiest way to troubleshoot this before you do anything else is to run an empty cycle. Does it still wobble and vibrate? If so, there’s a problem with your washing machine and within this section, I’ll detail the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.

Note: Top-loading washing machines don’t have shock absorbers! So don’t waste your time looking for them. 

Worn or Damaged Suspension 

Washing machines have suspension springs designed to secure the drum and prevent it from moving around during the spin cycle. The springs can become worn out or damaged over time, leading to instability. 

The best way to check for damaged suspension rods is to push down the tub. You should get one smooth, snappy bounce back upwards. If the tub bangs around when you push it, the suspension rods are likely bad and you might need to repair a loose washing machine drum

  • Check the suspension springs: The suspension springs secure the drum in place, preventing it from bouncing around during the spin cycle. The springs can become damaged over time, causing instability. 

Leveling Issues

Washing machines must sit on a level surface to work correctly. Washers on uneven ground can have several problems, like error codes, instability, and a failure to dry clothes. Uneven floors and improper installation typically cause these issues.

You must adjust your machine if it rests on an uneven surface. You may need to place a strip of the carpet underneath it to balance it. Other solutions include rubber vibration absorbers to reduce shaking.

Broken Dampening Straps

A few top-load machines include rubber straps that secure the tub to the four corners of the unit. Dampening straps can become loose or break down over time and must be replaced to resolve balance issues. Unfortunately, all the straps need to be replaced together rather than just replacing one.

If all else fails and you’re washing machine is STILL noisy and vibrating, I actually ended up once squeezing pool noodles between the edges of my machine and the laundry closet walls that did the trick. Good luck!