How to Fix an Overloaded Washing Machine

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A washing machine that won't spin – or a washing machine that does spin, but shakes and makes a series of loud crashing noises – can be a sign that the washing machine is overloaded, or on the verge of overloading. This problem can be very expensive to fix if the wrong component becomes damaged. While an overload can be caused by any number of issues, it's most commonly the result of packing too many items into the washer during each load. Attending to overloading washing machine problems can be simple, but may require professional services in some situations.

How to Fix an Overloaded Washing Machine
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An Overload of Clothes

More often than not, a washer overload has been caused by putting too many items – or too many heavy items – into the washer before running it. This can unbalance the washer's barrel, causing loud crashing during the spin cycle. It can also cause drainage problems, particularly if an item of clothing gets caught inside the washer, causing the washer to fail when it attempts to begin the spin cycle. In either situation, the immediate solution is to reduce the amount of items placed into the washer during each cycle. If removing or rearranging some objects and restarting the washer doesn't solve the problem, you may need to reset your washer entirely. Before doing so, however, take a look at the legs holding up your washing machine: if they are loose or wobbly, they may be the cause of any violent spinning.

Initial Washer Reset

If reducing the size of the washer's loads, and ruling out any problem with the legs, don't solve the problem, the next step is to reset the washing machine. Sometimes, you can just unplug the machine, wait five minutes, then plug it back in. If this does not work, you may need to perform a master reset: machines with digital menus will often have a dedicated reset button to accomplish this, but other washers may need you to proceed through a specific reset sequence, which can be found in your owner's manual. This should fix the overload – though the machine may need some time to drain, depending on when the problems began.

Washing Machine Troubleshooting

If a master reset fails to fix your overloaded washing machine, you'll need to go through the process of washing machine troubleshooting. Because washers are complex machines, consult or hire a professional to handle this, and be sure to check the owner's manual for warranty details. If your machine is still under warranty, you'll want to call and get your machine examined. If it isn't, you will need to go through the process of testing the various components of your washer, starting with the lid switch. This process will depend on your washer's make and model – and again, hiring a professional may be necessary if the problem is particularly complex and requires the installation of a new part.


Blake Flournoy is a writer, reporter, and researcher based out of Baltimore, MD. As a handyman's apprentice operating out of the Atlanta suburbs, they made a name for themselves repairing appliances and installing home decor. They have never seen Seinfeld and are deathly scared of wasps.

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