Moving can be overwhelming. So much goes into planning and implementing a move that it's tempting at times to cut corners, to ignore advice, and to forgo using enough of the packing materials you hoarded for months. You just want it to be over. But rushing through things and being careless can bring disastrous results, especially with expensive home appliances. Knowing whether or how you should lay a washing machine on its side while moving it can save you lots of money and loads of frustration.
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It's All About the Suspension
You load your washables into the washer's drum — the big basket you see that's made of stainless steel, plastic, or enameled steel. That drum sits within a larger tub whose suspension system facilitates safe and free movement of the drum during various cycles. You risk damage to this system if you don't take proper precautions when moving the appliance.
Tipping a washing machine onto its side can stress the suspension system and its springs or cause the drum and tub to bump into each other, resulting in damage that prevents the drum from spinning properly during cycles. This is why manufacturers recommend keeping the machine upright during a move if at all possible. If it becomes absolutely necessary to lay the washer on its side, this should be done with extreme care — if at all — and only after other stabilizing precautions have been taken. Additionally, as important as it is to avoid needing to lay the washer on its side, it's an absolute no-no to lower it onto its back or front.
Stabilizing the Drum
The stabilizing precaution you need to take to prevent serious damage to your machine involves securing the drum to hold it in place during the move so the suspension doesn't break, and the method you use to stabilize the drum in your machine depends on the type of washer you have: front-loading or top-loading. It's a good idea to consult your product manual for special instructions.
If you have a top-loading washer, its original packing materials should have included a foam packing ring that can be placed inside the washer to stabilize the drum. If you don't have a packing ring, you can create stabilization and reduce vibration by wedging pieces of cardboard or thick foam board around the drum, ensuring that you create a snug fit.
Front-loading washing machines require the reinsertion of four shipping bolts, also called transit bolts, that come with the machine. The bolts run through the back of the machine and into the drum, holding it in place. They must be removed once the machine is installed, but it's imperative that they go back into the machine before moving it. If you didn't keep the originals, contact the manufacturer for replacements or check with a local appliance retailer to see whether it has stock bolts that will fit your machine. Just don't skip taking this precaution.
Additional Measures To Take
In addition to securing your washer drum, you can make sure your washer is moved safely and that any need to lay it on its side is minimized by loading it onto a dolly, by making sure you have a helper or two on hand (washers are heavy), and by ensuring that the vehicle with which you transport it allows the machine to be loaded in an upright position.