7 Reasons Why Your Washing Machine Is Making Grinding Noises

Sadly, it’s pretty common for washing machines to break down over time and to start making strange clunking or grinding noises. So what exactly is wrong with your washer? Is there anything that can be done about it?

Washing machines can make grinding noises for a number of reasons: worn agitators, bad tub bearings, failed U-joint, or an object stuck in the washer’s drum or seal. The best way to get to the bottom of your washing machine’s noise problem is to identify where the sound emanates from.

In the rest of this article, I’ll go over the most common reasons for a washing machine to make grinding noises and how you can go about fixing each of these problems. So stick around for this in-depth guide for diagnosing and repairing your washing machine’s grinding sound.

1. A Foreign Object Is Stuck in the Washers Seal, Drum, or Heater

One of the most common reasons washing machines start to make a grinding sound when running, is due to an object being stuck somewhere in the filter, drum, or seal. In addition, small objects such as coins, small toys, rocks, or buttons can cause a horrible grinding sound while your washer is going.

How to Remove Objects Stuck in a Washing Machines Seal

First, you’ll want to check that no clothing or other objects have wedged themselves in between your washing machine’s drum and door seal. Clothing and other small objects tend to get stuck here and cause problems such as grinding noises.

To find and fix this problem, you’ll want to:

  1. Pry back the door seal to look for lost items. You can use a screwdriver to prop it open while using a flashlight to peer inside.
  2. Check for clothing items caught between the drum and door seal. Use a wire coat hanger to maneuver in the small space and fish out any clothing.
  3. Use a vacuum or shop vac to suck out any solid objects. Some objects will be more tricky to fish out with a hanger, so a vacuum should do the trick.

Be sure to readjust the door seal to prevent any unwanted leaks when starting your washing machine back up.

How to Remove Objects Stuck in a Washing Machines Drum

The fix for this problem is relatively simple and can be done quite quickly. Since this is a prevalent issue for washing machines and also the easiest to fix, this is the best step to start with when trying to diagnose your washer’s sound problem.

How to locate and remove foreign objects from a washing machine drum:

  1. Unplug the washing machine. As with any appliance, you will want to make sure the washer is disconnected from its power supply in order to prevent possible electrocution.
  2. Check the drum’s inner lining for possible objects. Braw wires and other slender items tend to get stuck into the tiny holes in the interior and can cause a loud scraping sound.
  3. Remove drum paddles. By unscrewing a drum paddle, you will better be able to see into the washing machine’s drum to retrieve lost articles of clothing. Be sure to replace the drum once done securely.
  4. If the washer still makes a bad sound, you can remove the sub house. Unscrew the fastenings closing the sub hose to get a better view inside the drum. Simply look through the opening for any stuck objects.

Be sure to replace any hardware you have removed with care before using your washing machine again.

How to Remove Objects Stuck in the Washing Machines Heater

Next, I’ll discuss how to retrieve items that have gotten stuck much deeper into the washing machine, such as the back where the heater is located.

How to locate and retrieve lost objects from the washers heater:

  1. Make sure that the washing machine is unplugged. As previously stated, your machine should be removed from its power source so that you don’t get electrocuted.
  2. Unscrew the panel from the back of the washing machine. Carefully remove this panel to expose the heating unit of the washer. Be sure not to lose any of the screws.
  3. Unplug any wiring along the bottom of the heating unit. This will help when you remove the heating mechanism and give you a window into the washer for fishing out any lost items.
  4. Unscrew the heating mechanism and remove. Where the heater was once plugged in, there will be a hole you can look into and pull out any stuck items.
  5. Replace all hardware. Carefully replace all hardware before attempting to use your washing machine again.

2. The Agitator Dogs Are Worn

Another reason your washing machine might be making a loud grinding sound when running is that the agitator dogs are worn out. Agitator dogs are the mechanisms that control which direction your washer agitator moves.

You can tell if your agitator dogs are bad if your agitator is free to swing both ways without resistance.

How to Replace Worn Agitator Dogs

If you suspect this may be the case, you can replace them by following the steps below:

  1. Unplug your washer from its power source.
  2. Remove the washer’s dust cap.
  3. Use a socket wrench to remove the agitator.
  4. Pull the two sections of the agitator apart.
  5. Turn the top section upside down and wait for the cam to fall out.
  6. Remove the agitator dogs from the cam.
  7. Replace with new ones.
  8. Carefully replace all hardware.

Once replaced, you’d notice the loud grinding sound has stopped; if not, there may be something else wrong with your machine.

3. The Tub Bearings Have Gone Out

Another common reason for a loud grinding noise in your washer is bad tub bearings. But how do you know if your tub bearings have gone out?

Often tub bearings go bad due to a build-up of rust from water finding its way to them over time. Sadly, the build-up of rust begins to break the bearing and can cause your washer to make loud sounds when running.

Removing tub bearings can be quite complex, and it’s recommended that you have this done by a professional if you suspect that your bearings have rusted. Also, depending on whether your washing machine is a front loader, the steps for replacing these bearings will be different.

4. The U-Joint Has Failed

Your washing machine might be making a horrible grinding noise because its U-joint needs replacing. Luckily replacing a U-joint isn’t too tricky.

You’ll need:

  • A spanner wrench. If you don’t already own one, I recommend Aquashines Spanner Wrench. This wrench is made to fit Whirlpool or Kenmore washing machines perfectly and is made of alloy steel.
  • A U joint kit.

Make sure to purchase a kit specifically for your washer type so that installation goes as smoothly as possible. Next, you’ll want to follow your washing machine manual and U joint replacement guide exactly. The guide will walk you through how to quickly and easily replace the joint.

5. The Washer Needs a New Drive Belt

Washing machine drive belts have been known to go out from time to time and can certainly be the cause of your washer’s sudden grinding noise.

In addition, clothing getting stuck in the drum can cause your drive belts to strain if the clothing catches on something, resulting in a burned or broken belt over time.

How to Replace a Drive Belt

Your machine might be making a strange grinding sound due to a broken drive belt. Your drive belt is in charge of helping your drum spin the laundry, and when it goes out, it’s no longer able to fulfill that job.

Replacing a drive belt is very simple, especially if your washer has a back panel. However, the steps are pretty easy to accomplish if you follow them closely.

How to replace your washing machines belt:

  1. Unplug your washer from its power source. You’ll want to do this to avoid electrocution while working.
  2. Remove the washing machine’s back cover by unscrewing it. If there’s no back cover, you’ll have to replace the belt by going in through the top of the machine.
  3. Once the rear cover has been removed, you’ll see where the belt is stretched around the drum and motor spindle. If the belt has snapped, it will likely be somewhere in the bottom of the washer’s back.
  4. Place the new belt onto the motor’s spindle and then place it onto the drum poly. The new belt will likely be very tight (it has to be in order to operate correctly), so be patient as you work to get it in place.
  5. Replace the washing machine’s back panel. Be sure to get all the screws back into place and to remove the old belt from the bottom of the washer’s back before starting it up again.

Once replaced, your washing machine should be ready to run as good as new. However, remember to be careful not to overfill your washing machine loads and always check for clothing that has migrated into parts of the drum it shouldn’t have. These sorts of things can lead to your drive belt breaking prematurely.

If your washing machine starts to make a loud grinding noise again, it’s essential to check your machine belt immediately as this is a very likely cause for strange sounds and your washer not working.

6. The Tub Seal Needs to Be Replaced

It’s possible that you’re hearing a strange grinding sound coming from your washing machine because the tub seal needs replacement. Tub seals tend to last about 10 years before needing to be replaced.

The reason for this is because there’s a lot of wear put on these seals as they are regularly subjected to high spinning speeds of the washing machine.

Replacing a tub seal on a washer can be complex and is often better left to professionals, though you can certainly attempt to replace yours if you feel qualified.

How to Replace Tub Seals

So let’s take a quick look at how you can replace your tub seal on your front loader washing machine.

How to remove your old washing machine’s tub seal:

  1. Unplug the washer from the wall outlet.
  2. Unscrew the top of the washing machine by removing the bottom Philips screw holding it in place along the back.
  3. Once loose, remove the top of the washing machine.
  4. Carefully remove the metal ring from the seal around the mouth of the washer drum.
  5. Pinch the clamps on the two rubber hoses going into the top of the washer and then remove them.
  6. Remove the electrical connection point next to the two hoses as well.
  7. Pull the rubber liner from around the drum off.

For the installation portion, I recommend that you check out the following video on replacing a front loading washing machine’s tub seal. It does a great job of walking you through all of the steps.

7. The Washing Machine Is Naturally Noisy

Last but not least, your washing machine might just be noisy. Some machines are built a little cheaper, and therefore not a lot of thought goes into making them run as quietly as possible. Therefore it’s entirely possible that your unit is just loud.

If you want to let go of your old washer and get a new quieter one, make sure to check our list of the best quiet washing machines currently on the market.

Final Thoughts

When a washing machine makes a loud grinding sound while on, it can be due to a number of reasons, such as an object falling down into the drum or seal of the washer. When dealing with a noisy washer, the best way to get to the root of the problem is by process of elimination.

Common causes for a noise:

  • Bad agitator dogs.
  • Broken tub bearings.
  • Failed U joint.
  • Broken drive belt.

If you don’t feel like tackling these problems alone, a repairman is an excellent alternative since they’re generally knowledgeable in these kinds of repairs.


1 thought on “7 Reasons Why Your Washing Machine Is Making Grinding Noises”

  1. I have a Kapas mini washer. It was working fine until It was moved. I moved and when I hooked it up it started making a grinding noise. Would not being level cause that?

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