If your washing machine sounds more like an airport runway than an appliance that belongs in your laundry room, it could be a sign of broken drum bearings. It’s a common problem with a lot of aging washers, that can shatter both your eardrums and appliance.
But what are bearings exactly? It’s a major component of your washing machine in the shape of metal rings that support the rotation of the drum. These are usually found at the back of your washer (below the outer tub). Keep reading to find out what you can do if your washing machine’s bearings go bust.
What causes bearings to go in washing machine?
Simple wear and tear. All washers, whether we’re talking about front or top loaders, have two bearings that will degrade with use. Water will eventually begin to seep through seals around the metal bearings, causing them to rust over time.
These are the two main tell-tale signs of defective bearings:
- if your appliance starts sounding like heavy machinery during its spin cycle
- if the inner drum seems to moves more than a millimetre or two, comparative to the fixed outer drum
The best way to know for sure is to inspect your appliance. You can do that by removing the back panel of your washer and checking for signs of rust in and around the motor. That’s a dead giveaway of faulty bearings!
Is it better to repair the bearings or replace my washing machine?
There are two situations when it may be more economical to repair the faulty bearings on your washer yourself. The first would be if you’re going for a DYI installation, only outlaying for parts. The second is if your machine is still under a full or partial manufacturer’s warranty to cover some or all the repair costs (including parts).
But more often than not, fixing your washing machine can end up costing you more money than simply upgrading to a newer model. Your best course of action is to contact your manufacturer and suss out how much the parts you need will cost you. Make sure to provide the right appliance model and make to get an accurate quote.
Another cost you’ll need to factor in is professional installation. Most technicians will charge an hourly fee, plus transport costs. Ultimately, you will have to analyse repair costs versus replacement costs. A recent survey by Canstar Blue revealed that Aussies usually spend $817 on average on their front load washer (or $698 for top loaders). This is a good starting price point for comparison.
If you decide you need a new washing machine, there’s a wide range of affordable, high-quality, water and energy efficient models loaded with great features, available on the market.
How much does it cost to replace bearings in a washing machine?
Again, this will depend on the make and model of your appliance, but replacing bearings on a washing machine could set you back anywhere between $100 and $600, or more. This is inclusive of the net price of parts, including the actual bearings and oil seals and professional installation. Generally speaking, top loaders cost more to fix because they contain more parts than front loaders.
If your appliance is still covered by a warranty, the manufacturer should incur any repair or replacement costs under a consumer guarantee provision. The average warranty period for washing machines is 24 months.
Can I still use my washing machine if the bearings have gone?
Yes, but not for long. Faulty bearings won’t affect the competence of your washer, but they can damage other parts of your appliance like the basket, shaft, outer drum, and some electrical components. Over time, bad bearings can cause the demise of your washing machine. That’s why it’s more economical and practicable to fix bad bearings as soon as possible. It will avoid further damage to your machine and perhaps a heftier repair bill down the track.
Six tips to replace washing machine drum bearings
If you decide to go down the DYI route, here are some easy steps you can follow.
Turn your washer completely off
First, you’ll need to ensure your machine is totally disconnected from power and water. Disconnecting the sump hose from the drain pump will likely cause a water spill, so don’t forget to lay some old towels on the floor to soak it up and avoid any slips. Make sure the machine and hoses are drained of water completely.
Have your parts ready
Preparation goes a long way when undertaking repairs to your washer. Gather the parts and tools you’ll need to dissemble and fix your machine. This will give you a visual roadmap of the repair steps, so you don’t forget anything.
Know what’s under the hood
Do you know how to locate the bearings in your machine? This will depend on the model and make of your washer. So, before you begin dissembling anything, brush up on the design and structure of your appliance or better yet, contact the manufacturer for advice. Have a plan in mind and do not go in blind.
Strip your machine down step by step
With a bit of elbow grease, you should be able to remove the front cover and back panel of your washer fairly easily (with the help of a screw driver). Once you’ve popped the hood, you’ll need to pull out the detergent dispenser, control panel and the drum from the housing of the washing machine. Also, don’t forget to remove the pipe leading to the inlet valve and make sure to disconnect wires from parts carefully.
Replace the faulty bearings
Remove the faulty bearings with a spanner or a heavy-duty tool and replace them with new ones. Make sure you screw them back on properly to prevent another failure later on. Don’t forget you’ll also need to replace the broken bearing seals which are usually the source of the problem.
Reassemble your machine carefully
Once you’ve replaced the faulty parts, you’ll have to reassemble your washer and reconnect it to power and water with extreme care, so as to ensure it works for the longer term.
A word of caution. Replacing bearings is a tedious and complex job. It’s not one you should attempt unless you’re 100% confident of your ability to dissemble your washing machine to replace the faulty parts and then re-build it correctly. Some high-end models also require special tools to strip down which make them harder to repair. When in doubt, leave it to the professionals.
How long should a washing machine last?
A recent survey by Canstar Blue revealed that Aussies keep their washing machines for an average of eight years before changing models. In most cases, you can keep your laundry appliance for longer with a little TLC and providing you follow all maintenance instructions. Keep in mind this will also be conditional on other factors like frequency of use, cost, age, brand quality and so on. But, if you’ve had your washer for a while now and the bearings are starting to go bad, it may be time to think about upgrading your appliance.
You can usually nab bargains on washers during EOFY or Black Friday sales, or when retailers reduce prices to clear older models ahead of new releases. Our survey found that 48% of Aussies bought their washing machines during a sales period, while 28% buy theirs online.
Which washing machine brands last the longest?
Miele was rated best for overall customer satisfaction in Canstar Blue’s latest front load washing machines review. Consumer feedback suggests Miele washing machines can last up to 10 years.
This high-end German manufacturer has a wide range of feature-rich washers with an expected life expectancy of about 10 years. Bosch scored a four-rating for overall customer in our latest product review.
Samsung washing machines last up to a decade or more, depending on the model. Samsung ranked third best for overall customer satisfaction in our latest front-loading washers review.
Fisher & Paykel
Washing machines from Fisher & Paykel can keep spinning for up to 10 years with a little TLC. Fisher & Paykel received a four-star rating for overall satisfaction in Canstar Blue’s latest product review on front loaders.
LG may be best known as a specialist in consumer electronics, but the brand took out a four-star rating for overall customer satisfaction in our latest washing machines review. LG’s washers can last between five and 10 years.
Electrolux features a comprehensive range of innovative laundry appliances, including its washing machines which can last between five and eight years with proper care. The Swedish brand received three stars for overall customer satisfaction Canstar Blue’s latest product review.
Picture credits: New Africa / Shutterstock.com, Prophotoo / Shutterstock.com, Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock.com, Money Business Images / Shutterstock.com.