Squealing from washing machine
A high pitched squealing or harsh noise on spin can be motor bearings. This can be caused if all the grease has worn away or been flushed by water from a leak (all relatively rare). It’s easy to check for by taking the belt off and running the motor alone. If the noise is still there it’s clearly the motor (make sure the pump isn’t making the noise though as that also runs at the same time). Motors usually can’t be repaired these days and only come complete – Buy washing machine motor
Knocking noise on spin
A knocking noise can be a loose drum (tub) weight. The knocking noise is caused when the drum shakes about on spin. Without laundry inside, the drum hardly moves, so the noise isn't normally present. Towels or sheets usually make the noise the loudest. Another symptom of a loose drum weight can be a lot of grey concrete dust under the washing machine if the weight is crumbling..
Check for a loose drum (tub) weight. There are usually at least two. One on the top of the tub (outer drum) and another around the front of the outer drum near the door seal or at the bottom of the drum underneath. Check by disconnecting the washing machine from the mains and bouncing the drum around by hand to see if it makes a knocking noise that can be located to the drum weight.
Warning: Most washing machines have plastic outer drums. So over tightening a drum weight bolt can easily shear the bracket resulting in a new tub being required. Once a drum weight has come loose the plastic tub is often damaged anyway, especially if it isn't caught early enough. But if caught early you might get away with tightening it back up.
Commonly though, the force of the drum weight swinging around often breaks the fixing away from the drum. If this has happened it can’t be repaired without fitting a new drum. The drum weight is fixed on using bolts with locking nuts. If yours have come loose you can try tightening them, but listen out for them coming loose again in the future. If so, try to buy some new locking nuts or use loctite. Don’t over-tighten.
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Worn Drum Pulley
Another source of strange knocking noises can be a worn drum pulley. Especially if it’s made of a cheap plastic. Take off the drive belt and see if you can move the drum pulley on the shaft. If it’s loose it should be obvious. The noises made by a loose drum pulley are deceptively strange and not what you would expect.
Tapping noise on spin
A constant tapping noise on spin can be caused by the drum hitting something, especially if it is worse with heavier loads. It might even be absent with very light loads. It could be caused by something trapped in the drum, or if the heating element is not located properly inside its bracket the drum can hit it.
If the heating element has recently been removed and replaced then if it is not located inside its bracket properly the drum could hit it on spin. This is dependent on exactly how the heating element’s tub bracket is designed. These days many of them are very difficult to get wrong. The old Hoover washing machines with a metal outer tub used to have a very badly designed bracket and the heating element could easily be fitted without locating it in place.
These metal brackets also used to rust and drop-off in old machines. It used to be very common. But these days most outer drums (tubs) are made of plastic and many of them have a heating element bracket designed into it and part of the mold, which is essentially just a shelf that the heating element fits underneath making it virtually impossible to not fit the heating element properly.
The drum could be hitting the heating element, especially with heavy loads in, if one of the drum spider arms has broken. Check washing machine noisy – part one under the section “damaged drum or drum spider.
Other tapping noises could be caused by a faulty foot at the base, or something loose in the chassis. Try holding the washing machine firmly whilst it is happening to see if the tapping stops. Make sure the washing machine is properly level. If the tapping noises caused by this type of problem though the noise should not be allowed or alarming. A loud, alarming sound is much more likely to be caused by problems mentioned in the last paragraphs.
A small clicking sound or tapping sound may be able to be recreated by actually moving the washing around to simulate it moving during spin. This would help you locate it. Other than that you’d just need to try and locate where the sound is coming from. Many of the modern washing machines with very high spin speeds can shake about quite violently and things inside such as hoses can move around and vibrate quite a lot potentially catching on the casing.
This type of problem should be observable with the lid off. It is highly likely to be present without any laundry inside because there is virtually no movement until laundry is inside the drum and then things shake about quite violently.
Scraping noise when the drum turns
A light metallic scraping noise each time the drum revolves, which usually also happens when you turn the drum by hand is often caused by an underwire from a bra getting trapped between the outer drum and inner drum – check how to remove something stuck in washing machine
Noisy Drive belt
Sometimes a badly worn drive belt can cause a surprising amount of noise. I've even come across some where I was convinced the drum bearings were gone until I took off the belt and spun the drum by hand to find the noise had gone. The noise was caused by the rubber degrading, and the individual tracks (only on some belts) getting covered in melted rubber. This caused a distinct rumbling sound very similar to drum bearing failure.
Crackling or grating noise when drum turns
A crackling or grating noise when the motor turns can be caused by sparking carbon brushes in the motor. When the drum is turned by hand the noise is not present but when the motor runs on its own, sparking and crackling noises can be heard. The motor may well not be running smoothly, and could be faltering or stuttering too. How to spot worn carbon brushes
Don’t get carried away
Over the years, even experienced appliance repairmen have been seriously injured or killed.
More on noisy washing machines
This article contains just a few of the possible causes of a noisy washing machine. For more causes of a noisy washing machine see part 1: Washing Machine is Noisy