What do noisy drum bearings sound like?

Drum bearings

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.

This article gives advice on how to detect worn drum bearings, and gives two great examples of how easily you could misdiagnose them.

So be warned, 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 once totally misdiagnosed worn drum bearings (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 we both 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, which is quite rare.

That taught me that the only true way to diagnose them is to take off the drive belt. Then, when you spin the drum, you are only spinning the drum – and not hearing noise from 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. This belt sounded just the same as rumbling 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 –

Is there play in the drum?

If the drum bearings are rumbling, that’s one thing. But if you pull the lip of the drum towards you, can you lift it up and down on the shaft? If so, then either the drum 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 economical 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 further help on how to diagnose worn drum bearings in the links below.

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21 thoughts on “What do noisy drum bearings sound like?”

  1. Have a 4 month old whirlpool that seems to grind a bit and sometimes Very loud when it pumps out the water during rinsing . Warranty by mechanic replaced the pump but there is still weird sounding grinding going on when the machine starts to remove water from the tub. Any advice. P.s. loudest washer we ever had.


  2. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Jeff. If it only makes a noise when it is emptying water it can only be the pump, or something stuck inside the pump like a button, or coin, or some other falling object. If it makes the grinding noise as soon the pump starts up but only lasts a second or so then it may just be that the pump they use is noisy. Some pump impellers rattle as they start up. But if the noise lasts for longer, and especially if it comes and goes there is possibly something stuck inside there that is being sucked in and tossed around. If this is the case, and especially if it is a plastic object they can be difficult to get out.

    This is because if you lay the washing machine over to work on it the object can float back up inside the sump hose, or even inside the drain hose. In such a case once most of the water has been pumped away it is best to just disconnect the washing machine from the mains, and with the back panel off take off the sump hose and drain hose and then carefully inspect both hoses and inside the pump.

  3. Neil Gutteridge

    It sounds like my bearings on the drum are gone on my washing machine , how much would you charge to fix it please

  4. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Neil. You can usually get a free quote from one of my repairers Appliance repairs. It is usually a very expensive job but some of my repairers have schemes in place for paying monthly and even covering the whole of the washing machine for future repairs over the next 12 months so it might be worth investigating.

  5. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Thomas. Have you listened to the video? That makes what could be described as a roaring sound and that’s just being spun by hand. If you disconnect the drive belt and then spin the drum by hand is shown in the video if it makes a rumbling sound than the drum bearings have failed. If it is totally silent then the noise is obviously something else in the next thing to check is running the motor on spin without the belt connected to see if the noise is coming from there. The third potential suspect is the pump. However, if it is the pump then the noise is going to be there even before the drum has gone into a spin.

  6. My 2013 Hotpoint WMUD962G shakes and makes a clunking clacking sound when on spin. There doesn’t appear to be any play in the drum suggesting bearing is ok. I had the machine at an angle and checked the front weight as best I could and seemed secure as was the top weight. I changed the shock absorbers but no change. Any advice or further checks I could do would be appreciated.

  7. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Garry. Unfortunately noises on a washing machine can be caused by dozens of different things and it’s extremely difficult to diagnose from descriptions as opposed to hearing a noise. A clanking or clunking sound is usually caused by loose drum weight or a broken drum spider. The best thing I can recommend is to put aside some time to carefully read both of my comprehensive articles on troubleshooting noisy washing machines that are linked to at the end of this article. I have covered everything I could possibly think of in there including how to check for a broken or cracked drum spider.

  8. if a washer is >10 years old and starts to make loud banging noise in spin if the repair is done i.e at disassemby
    1.should both the bearings and spider arm be replaced at same time or
    2. just the bearings / seals be fixed? or
    3. fix only the spider and hope the bearings/ seals can carry on

    if its 1 or 3 the washer is a write off as the bosch. doesnt sell the spider only i.e you need to buy whole drum which is more then i paid for this crap

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