Washing machines that vibrate, rock, walk, leak, or refuse to spin can often trace their problems back to just one cause: an out-of-level machine. Leveling the washing machine is critical to the proper functioning of the machine and can ward off worse problems, like water supply hoses tearing loose and flooding water. In most cases, leveling a washing machine takes only a few minutes.
How Washing Machines Become Out of Level
An out-of-level washing machine can be caused by issues with the flooring, obstructions under the machine, or by improperly adjusted front legs. Common causes include:
- Rotted floor covering
- Deficient subfloor and joists
- Machine resting on 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 spinning faster than top-loading washer, causing misalignment
- Plastic washing machine pan out of alignment
- Loose heavy-duty anti-vibration pads under washer feet
When to Level a Washing Machine
Level a washing machine only when the drum is empty of water. If safe, initiate the spin cycle to drain the drum. Otherwise, bail out water by hand with a kitchen measuring cup.
Level a washing machine immediately. There is no safe operating slope for washing machines outside of the manufacturer's recommended maximum slope,
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.
Equipment / Tools
- Bubble level or phone level app
- Adjustable pliers
- Two-by-four block
Pull out Washer
To check the flooring under the washing machine, first fully disconnect the machine. Slide the washer forward until the entire area below the washer is visible. If the machine is set in a plastic tray, slide the entire tray and washer forward.
Check for Loose Foot Pads
Rubber anti-vibration pads, similar to furniture pads, placed under the washing machine feet may have come loose. The machine will need all four pads in place—or no pads—in order to remain level.
Check Flooring Condition
The flooring should be solid flooring, such as tile, vinyl, laminate, or wood. Washing machines should not be on top of carpeting. With the level, check that the flooring is level. The floor must be solid and in good condition. The floor should not be rotted, cracked, waterlogged, or moldy.
If needed, repair the flooring. For heavily rotted flooring, it's best to remove the floor covering, then remove and replace the poor subfloor, and then reinstall the floor covering. In some cases, the floor joists might be in poor condition.
Alternatively, some washing machine manufacturers recommend installing 3/4-inch exterior- or marine-grade plywood on top of the finish flooring. Cut the plywood to 34 inches deep and 34 inches wide to fully span three floor joists from end to end. Screw the plywood to the floor joists with 2-inch screws.
Check Washer Level
With the washer back in place, check the level of the washer side to side and front to back. If the washer has a rounded top, choose straight areas such as along the side seams or along the top of the control panel
With the lid down, rock the washer forward to back and side to side to assess whether all four legs are in contact with the floor.
If the back feet are uneven, the problem lies with the floor, since the back feet are fixed in place. If the front feet are uneven, adjust them in the following steps.
Prop up Front of Washer
Have an assistant tip the washer backward to raise the front by a few inches. Insert the two-by-four block under the front at the center of the washer.
Adjust Washer Feet
With the pliers or by hand, turn the front leveling feet counterclockwise to lower the washer feet or clockwise to raise the washer feet. The feet may need to be at different levels to adapt to the floor. Make sure that each foot remains securely attached to the base of the washer.
When to Call a Professional
Call a general contractor to make substantial repairs to the finish flooring, subfloor, or joists under the machine.