There are so many potential sources of a noise on a washing machine that it can be difficult to find the cause. This one is about when the drum is turning on wash and it makes a strange tapping noise. Then when spinning it turns to a grinding, knocking, rattling noise.
AEG washer dryer
My examples of this particular fault are on an AEG washer dryer, but the same noise could occur on any other AEG washing machine and on most other brands too. Most washing machines have the exact same part that causes this noise (the drum pulley where the belt fits).
To make sure this is the right article for troubleshooting your noise have a listen to the video below..
Metallic rattle or tapping on spin
This video below shows the same washing machine but making a different noise during a faster spin. This one is more of a grinding noise..
What is causing these noises?
Both of the noises in the videos are caused by a worn drum pulley. The drum pulley is at the back of the drum behind the back panel. The drive belt goes around this pulley and around a much smaller pulley on the motor. When the motor runs it turns the drive belt and then the drum pulley, which in turn makes the drum revolve.
Where is it worn?
The drum pulley slots onto the drum shaft. The part of the drum pulley that slots onto the drum shaft becomes worn. It rarely used to happen, but these days parts aren’t made that well.
In this particular case the entire drum pulley is made out of plastic with a metal insert pressed inside in the centre. This metal is simply not very durable. Once the metal on the drum pulley has worn sufficiently it allows the drum pulley to move left and right. See the video below..
The drum pulley is usually still tightly secured to the drum shaft with the bolt. But there is excessive play when you move the drum pulley left and right. If this is what is causing your noise it should be very obvious indeed.
Article continues below..
Drum pulley is worn
The video below shows the exact nature of this fault after the drum pulley has been removed. You can see how the metal insert in the centre of the drum pulley has just worn and is no longer making a tight fit. This is the source of this particular noise.
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How do I fit a new drum pulley?
Fitting a new drum pulley should be quite easy. One possible complication though is if the bolt holding it on is a right-hand thread. I would expect most of them to be a normal left hand thread and undo by turning anticlockwise. But if it doesn’t seem to be coming off just bear in mind a possibility of a right-hand thread.
Also bear in mind that it is normal for it to be initially difficult to undo this bolt because it should be fitted with some sort of locking system in place to stop this bolt from coming loose. So there could be tab that has to be bent back to allow the bolt to be undone. Or there could be a locking spacer fitted underneath to discourage it from coming loose.
More common though these days is the use of loctite. Many drum pulley bolts have Loctite on the thread (usually blue) to stop it from coming undone. If so, it will be initially quite secure, but once the nut has moved slightly it should start to come undone.
It is important to consider the following points –
If fitted with a hexagonal head, you need to use the correct spanner for the size of the bolt. Preferably a long one for leverage. If you use one that’s slightly too large, or worse still use mole grips or pipe pliers you’re very likely to damage the bolt head.
If you over tighten the bolt, or use too much force when trying to undo it (if you are accidentally attempting to do it the wrong way) then the bolt can shear off. If this happens it could be extremely expensive, or even result in you scrapping the washing machine. The only way to remove a sheared off bolt is to drill it out and then restore the thread using a proper tap and die set.
You must ensure that the bolt is properly tight after fitting – but do not over tighten as mentioned above. Whatever method the washing machine is using to prevent the bolt from coming loose must still be present and working. If the bolt had Loctite on the shaft then you must refit the bolt with some new Loctite otherwise the bolt will come loose.
Finally: Some drum pulley bolts don’t have a proper hexagon shaped head that can be undone with a normal spanner. Instead they have those star-shaped indents that require a special tool (Torx). Here is an example of one Drum pulley bolt. In my experience these are very easy to damage even when being extra careful. You would need the correct tool to remove and refit one of these. A normal Torx bit will not be enough because you would not be able to get enough leverage. You would need a Torx socket piece.