How to Level a Washer That Vibrates and Walks

Man in a Kitchen Repairing a Washing Machine
Alex Wilson / Getty Images

We'd all like our washing machine to be more fun; but we don't want it to dance or take a walk. Not only is it incredibly noisy, excessive vibrations can damage the washer's mechanisms and lead to costly repairs. Learn how to fix the problem and how to level a vibrating washing machine easily.

How to Level a Shaking, Rattling and Rolling Washer

If your washing machine is not perfectly level with all four legs touching the floor it can bang and rock back and forth.

This isn't good for the machine and may damage walls and floors and anything else near the machine. Severe vibrations are a leading cause of future leaks and mechanical problems.

Start by finding out if your washer is level. You can determine this with a level tool or your smart phone may have an app. It is quite possible that the floor of your laundry area is not level. Fortunately, you can correct the problem without having to do construction on the floor of your home.

Washing machines have adjustable, front leveling legs with a lock nut. You should adjust each leg to the proper height and then tighten the lock nut up against the body of the machine to keep the leg from rotating. After adjusting each leg, lean against the machine and make sure that you feel no movement. Some machines have the same type of legs in the rear that should be adjusted. Keep the machine as close to the floor as possible - the lower it is, the less likely it is to vibrate.

Most machines, however, have "self-adjusting" rear legs. These legs are set by tilting the entire machine forward onto its front legs with the rear legs three to four inches off the floor and then setting the machine back down. The legs should adjust automatically. If they don't, you may need to tilt the machine forward again and rap on the rear legs with the handle of a hammer to loosen.

Keep checking the level several times as you make adjustments. It only takes a small change to bring everything into balance. Make sure that you check the level of the washer both side to side and front to back. All should be level.

If your washer is older and doesn't have adjustable feet, use wood shims or heavy cardboard to create a level machine. You may also find that anti-vibration pads for the washer like Wash Pucks will help with leveling, vibration and excessive noise.

Take Time for a Check Up

All of our homes settle a bit through the years and even shift depending on the season and amount of rainfall. If you begin to notice vibrations, movement or new noises, you may need to level or earth your washer even if it has been in the same location for years. If you loaded your washer incorrectly and that caused excessive vibration, take time to check and adjust the level again.

New front loading washers use significantly higher spin speeds than a standard washer to remove excess moisture. This can cause a washer to become off-balance easily and they should be checked every few months. Front load washers with improperly installed storage bases and improperly stacked washer dryer pairs should also be checked often.

Everything is Level and It Still Vibrates. Now What?

If the washer continues to vibrate and you've made sure it is level, double check these additional causes:

  • Check the laundry room floor. If you have had problems with leaks, the flooring and subflooring may have developed rot and need to be replaced. You should check the floor bracing as well. This is especially important for second floor laundry room installations. Braces are fairly simple to add or replace. If braces are impossible to add, create a more stable floor with a 5/8th inch sheet of plywood under both the washer and dryer.
  • Double check that all of the screws are tight on the stacking kit or storage bases. They may have wriggled loose over time and are allowing the machines to vibrate.
  • Always load the washer correctly. If you are washing a large comforter, add some towels to balance the load. If you are washing pillows, always wash in pairs to provide balance.
  • When purchasing a washer, choose one with anti-vibration features. This is especially important if the washer will be located near a sleeping or family area. Noise reduction is a plus.

Additional Tip for the Laundry Room

While you are adjusting your washer, take a few minutes and check the level on your dryer. A dryer that is out of level puts more strain on the supports that hold the drum in place. This can result in uneven wear and eventual gaps where clothes can get caught. Use the same steps as those suggested for a washer to level the dryer.