When the drum bearings have gone in a washing machine they make a rumbling sound. Many people are unsure if the noise their washing machine is making is really worn drum bearings or something else. Be warned though, even if you know what they should sound like, as this article explains, there are other faults that can sound exactly the same.
As an experienced engineer even I’ve misdiagnosed worn drum bearings once before (and never made that mistake again). In my defence I was with another engineer and you tend to be less thorough when responsibility is shared. We were called out to a very noisy washing machine. We expected it to be the drum bearings. I opened up the door, spun the drum by hand and heard what sounded exactly like worn drum bearings.
After quoting the customer, it later transpired that the noise was actually coming from the motor bearings. That taught me that the only true way to diagnose them is to take off the drive belt so that when you spin the drum you are only spinning the drum – and not the belt and the motor too.
I’ve also come across one instance when another engineer ordered up a complete new drum and bearing kit for a customer after he’d done the same thing. I was sent out to fit them. As soon as I took off the back panel I could see the drive belt was in a bad way and the rubber had started to melt. When I took off the belt and spun the drum – the drum bearings were fine, so was the motor. Believe it or not the rumbling noise was caused by the damaged drive belt. It just needed a new belt. This last case is very unusual, but don’t be too hasty to diagnose worn drum bearings.
What do noisy drum bearings sound like?
It is a big help to know what sound to listen out for. This video shows a washing machine drum being spun when the bearings are clearly worn –
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Is there play in the drum?
If the drum bearings are rumbling that’s one thing. But if when you pull the lip of the drum towards you it lifts up and down on the shaft then either the bearing at the front has collapsed, or the drum spider may have a crack in it or be corroded. In both scenarios it will complicate a repair and may need an entire new drum kit at great expense. It may well be beyond economic repair.
More on noisy washing machine and worn bearings
I have other articles giving advice about noisy washing machines and all the many possible explanations which also includes more information about the symptoms and how to diagnose worm drum bearings in the two links below.