How to replace washing machine bearings

When your washing machine starts to make a grinding noise during a cycle, it’s a clear indicator that the drum bearings may need to be replaced. These bearings enable the inner drum to rotate smoothly and maintain its correct track, essential for efficient operation. Failing to address these signs promptly can result in significant damage to both the drum and the outer tub, escalating repair costs.

Understanding Washing Machine Bearings

Drum bearings are pivotal in allowing the washing machine’s inner drum unit to function correctly. They are typically located at the rear of the drum and are crucial for ensuring that the drum moves smoothly. Over time, bearings can wear out due to the heavy load and constant use, which often manifests as a loud noise during the spin cycle. Knowing when and how to replace these bearings can save you from the inconvenience of a malfunctioning appliance.

Tools and Materials Needed

Before you begin the replacement process, ensure you have the right tools and materials. You will need:

  • A socket wrench with a long extension
  • Woodblocks for support
  • Penetrating oil to loosen the parts
  • A flat-head screwdriver
  • Brass or stiff-bristle nylon brush (avoid steel wire brushes as they can damage the finish)
  • Dishwashing liquid for lubrication
  • Replacement drum bearings and bearing seal
  • Rubber mallet and brass punch or wooden dowel for installation

Initial Steps Before Bearing Removal

Ensure that your washing machine is disconnected from the power source to avoid any electrical hazards. Move the machine to a spacious area to work comfortably. Begin by removing the back panel of the machine, which generally involves unscrewing bolts with a socket wrench. This will give you access to the drum and its components.


Removing the Old Bearings

Start by using your socket wrench to remove the bolts that secure the top part of the housing to the bottom half. Carefully separate the two sections and remove the old rubber seal from the groove on the flange.

Flip the inner housing over and place it on woodblocks at the outer edge. Apply penetrating oil around the inner lip of the bearing near the driveshaft, and allow it to soak for about 15 minutes. This helps in loosening the bearing from its seating.

Extracting the Driveshaft and Spider

Place a wood plank over the driveshaft and use it to gently tap out the driveshaft and inner tub. Remove the inner half to reveal the driveshaft and its three-armed aluminum bracket, known as a spider. If the spider is damaged or shattered, it will need to be replaced along with the driveshaft.

Cleaning and Preparing the Housing

With the inner tub removed, clean the housing thoroughly. Remove all rust from the bearing cavity using a brass brush. Again, apply penetrating oil around the bearing’s outer edge and allow it to soak. This preparation is crucial for the smooth installation of the new bearings.

Installing the New Bearings

Smear a film of dishwashing liquid on the outer face of the new bearings to act as a lubricant. Place the outer bearing into the cavity and gently tap it into place using a rubber mallet. Ensure that the bearing is perfectly flat with the surrounding surface. Repeat this process for the inner bearing.

Reassembling the Drum and Housing

Once the new bearings are installed, align the inner drum with the bearing seal hole and carefully lower the drum until the driveshaft’s end fits into the new bearings. Press down until the assembly is secure, then spin the drum to ensure it is correctly installed.

Replace the rubber drum housing seal and reattach the outer housing. Make sure all bolt holes are lined properly. Tighten all bolts and nuts evenly with the socket wrench.

Testing and Final Adjustments

After reassembling, connect the washing machine to power and run a short test cycle to ensure everything is operating as it should. Listen for any abnormal noise and check that the drum is spinning as expected. If any adjustments are needed, repeat the relevant steps to correct the issue.

By following these detailed steps, you can effectively replace the drum bearings in your washing machine, ensuring it runs efficiently for years to come.

Can you replace washing machine bearings yourself?

Yes, you can replace washing machine bearings yourself if you have the necessary tools and follow detailed instructions carefully. This DIY task requires a socket wrench, new bearings, and patience to ensure correct disassembly and reassembly.

How do I know if my washing machine bearings have gone?

Signs that your washing machine bearings need replacement include a loud rumbling noise during the spin cycle, the drum spinning unevenly or excessively vibrating, and any leakage around the machine due to a failing seal.

How much does it cost to replace a bearing in a washing machine?

The cost to replace a bearing in a washing machine can vary, typically ranging from $150 to $400, depending on whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, and the model of your washing machine.

Is it safe to use a washing machine when bearings have gone?

It is not safe to use a washing machine with failed bearings, as it can cause further damage to the machine and potentially lead to motor failure or leaks, which might result in more costly repairs or the need for a replacement.

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