How to properly Balance a Top Load Washer6 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. This article has been reviewed by professional appliance repairman Andy Funchek (who has 10+ years of experience) to ensure accuracy and professional expert tips!

An agitator in a top load washer tends to act like a stick on a spinning top. Remove the stick from the top and that center of gravity changes and tends to become unbalanced.

Andy Fulenchek, Professional Appliance Repairman and Owner of Grace Appliance.

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.

Rubber feet help in homes without a slab foundation where the floor may not be 100% stable or level. However, the rubber feet may also just be trying to mask an underlying issue.

Andy Fulenchek

I’ll take you through the easiest way to balance top-load washers…

P.S. It’s worth saving this article for the future. I’ve noticed my Samsung top-loading washing machine becomes unbalanced way more often than my previous front-loader.

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

Many newer top-load washing machines have self-adjusting legs in the back (all of my washing machines for the past 10 years have had self-leveling legs). 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 by doing the following:

  • Consult the Manual: Check the user manual of the washing machine. I’m always losing my appliance manuals, but have been using manualsonline.com for years, which has most appliance manuals in digital form.
  • Visual Inspection: Look at the legs. Self-leveling legs have a spring mechanism attached to them. If you can’t see them, I normally just feel the back of the legs for the spring mechanism.
  • Tilt Test: Gently tilt the washing machine forward or backward and then release it. If the legs are self-leveling, the machine should automatically adjust itself to sit flat on the ground.

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.

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. 

If, like mine, your washing machine is kept in a cupboard, I wrote this article on how to move a stacked washer/dryer which might help!

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 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. I normally use a tool like a crescent wrench to ensure a tight fit.

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.

Balance a top-load washer: Why is it out of balance?  

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 every few months, 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: 

  • Whirlpool washing machines may display a uL error code.
  • Samsung washing machines may display a UE error code.
  • LG washing machines may display a UE error code.
  • Maytag washing machines may display an OFb or ofb error code.
  • If you notice a code like uB, your washing machine may be trying to self-balance itself. It would show this error whilst trying to self-correct. After a number of times of trying to balance itself, it will stop the load and provide a different code such as ‘UB’.

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.

Shipping bolts are only applicable to front loading washing machines. if the machine has been professionaly moved by movers, many times they will install air up bags on the inside of the machine which can cause imbalance.

Andy Fulenchek

Even if your legs are balanced, double check they are removed! Running a front load washer with the shipping bolts still installed can destroy the machine.

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/impeller 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.

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. Instead, they use a long rod with a spring at the bottom – a suspension rod, which acts as a shock absorber.

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. If you find that after pushing down sharply once on the inner tub and then removing your hand. If the tub continues to bounce several times, this is a failed suspension rod. It should rebound once and stop. Slight side-to-side movement is acceptable and normal.

If the suspension rods are bad 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.

A worn Snubber Ring

A snubber ring in a washing machine is a cushioning part that reduces vibration and noise by allowing the tub to move slightly while preventing it from making direct contact with the machine’s base. When your snubber ring becomes worn out, it will not hold the tub centered any longer and the inner tub will hit the side of the washer.

A worn snubber ring is easily diagnosed because once you tip the washer rearward, you’ll find a very fine powder that looks like snow/flour all over the floor and surrounding area.

Andy Fulenchek

Luckily the part is cheap to repair (around $10) but it can be a nuisance to repair if you are not familiar. I found this video on how to replace the snubber ring:

If all else fails and your washing machine is STILL noisy and vibrating, I actually ended up squeezing pool noodles between the edges of my machine and the laundry closet walls which did the trick. Good luck, and please leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

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Hi, I'm Ed, and I run BuildFanatic! I enjoy providing the best possible information on a range of home improvement topics.

Andy Fulenchek
Owner at Grace Appliance | Website | + posts

Andy is a professional appliance repairman and business owner with years of hands-on experience. He co-authors and reviews appliance articles, ensuring accuracy and top-notch information for readers.

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