Washing Machine Sounds Like Gravel? (here’s why & what to do)

If your washing machine sounds like it’s full of gravel when the drum is turning it can be worrying. You’re probably already thinking about buying a new appliance. But, in some cases, this issue has an easy to fix solution.

Keep reading as I explain all of the likely causes to your washing machine sounding like gravel as well as offering solutions to these issues.

What Could Cause The Washer To Sound Like Gravel?

There are several reasons why your washing machine might sound like gravel which include;

Probable CauseSolution
Transit Bolts Not RemovedRemove the transit bolts
Loose Objects In The DrumRemove any coins, screws, nails etc from the drum
Objects Caught Between The Drum And The TubContact a technician
Clogged Waste PipeRemove whatever is blocking the waste pipe
Blocked Lint FilterRemove the lint filter and clean to remove any blockage
Defective Drum BearingInspect and replace the drum bearing if necessary
Defective Drive BeltReplace the drive belt if necessary
Defective Shock AbsorbersInspect and replace the shock absorbers if necessary
Defective ClutchContact a technician

Let’s take a closer look at each of these issues;

Transit Bolts Not Removed

person looking at washing machine

All new washing machines are delivered with transit bolts in place. These prevent the drum from moving around and potentially damaging the tub or other components as the appliance is moved around.

If the transit bolts are not removed before using the appliance, it could sound like gravel but more importantly, it could severely damage the appliance.

It is vitally important that you remove the transit bolts as soon as your new washing machine has been delivered and definitely before it is used.

You will need to consult your user manual for the exact location of the transit bolts on your appliance and the correct way to remove them.

Loose Objects In The Drum

A pair of keys in a pocket of jeans

If you have left anything in the pockets of your clothes like;

  • Coins
  • Keys
  • Screws
  • Nails
  • Hair Clips
  • Or Anything Else

Those items could have fallen from the pockets of your laundry and found their way into the drum. As the drum rotates, those metallic items will bash against the metal drum and make a noise very reminiscent of gravel.

If you hear this sound, stop the machine immediately and remove any loose objects.

In future, always check each and every pocket before placing the item in the washing machine.

Objects Caught Between The Drum And The Tub

washing machine drum

As the drum spins at high speed during the spin cycle, any loose objects like those mentioned above could fly around the drum and eventually get caught between the drum and the tub.

The tub on a washing machine is constructed from plastic and could easily become damaged. If the tub does become damaged, the result could be disastrous. You will almost certainly have a flood on your hands.

If you hear the sound of something rattling around the drum, you should stop the cycle and remove the offending item before it makes its way between the drum and the tub.

Once it does find its way between the two, it will be an expensive job to get it removed. In fact, it often costs less to replace the washing machine than the cost of removing the object.

Clogged Waste Pipe

In some cases a clogged waste pipe can cause that loud gravel-like noise. 

Check the drain hose for any twists, kinks or clogs. Remove any twists or clogs and check whether the sound has gone. If not it’s time to contact a technician to investigate.

Blocked Lint Filter

The lint filter is typically located on the bottom front of your washing machine behind a flap. You should clean the lint filter at least once a month to ensure the washer runs smoothly.

If something is blocking the lint filter, it can cause that gravel-like sound. You will need to remove the lint filter and remove anything that’s clogging it. Run the filter under fast running water and ensure it is completely clean before replacing it.

Defective Drum Bearing

The drum bearings on a washing machine consists of round balls encased in a round casing. They spin as the drum rotates and keep the drum turning properly.

If the bearing breaks, it will release the metal balls which will bounce around and collide with the drum. This will make a gravel-like sound.

To check on the condition of the drum bearings simply open the washing machine door and turn the drum by hand. If it doesn’t turn as it should or you can hear a loud squeaking sound, it’s a sure sign that the bearings are defective.

You shouldn’t use the washer until the bearings have been replaced. However, drum bearings are quite expensive parts especially once you include the labour costs of a technician to fit them. It might work out financially better to replace the appliance altogether.

Defective Drive Belt

open washing machine door

The drive belt on a washing machine connects the motor to the drum. Over time the drive belt can become damaged or frayed, at which point it can sound like gravel.

You will need to locate and inspect the drive belt and replace it if you notice any signs of damage.

Defective Shock Absorbers

If the shock absorbers have become damaged, developed a fault or become loose, they could be responsible for that gravel-like noise. You will need to consult your user manual for the location of the shock absorbers on your appliance.

You will then need to inspect them and see if they have come loose or become damaged in any way. If so, they will need to be replaced which is a job best left to a technician to carry out.

Defective Clutch

The clutch on a washing machine is a series of friction pads and springs that clamp on and release themselves from the drum to control the power and speed that it rotates at. 

If the clutch develops a fault it can produce that gravel-like sound and will need to be replaced. We recommend contacting a technician to investigate and replace the clutch if necessary.

Is It Worth Repairing A Faulty Washing Machine?

Washing Machine

Once a washing machine starts to develop a few faults, you’re always left with the question of whether it’s worth repairing it or whether you should simply replace it with a new model. Unfortunately, there’s not a straightforward answer.

It all depends on the age of the machine and the cost of the repair. The average lifespan of a washing machine is around 10 years. So, if the repair will cost less than half the price of a new appliance and it’s less than 5 years old, it’s probably worth repairing.

However, you’re still left with a 5 year old appliance, and once one component develops a fault, it’s often not long before another one does too.

In my opinion, if the part is relatively cheap and you can do the repair yourself, it’s probably worth doing. If you need to involve a technician however, that could increase the repair cost considerably.

If you decide to buy a new washing machine, you should head over to our washing machine review pages. There you will find plenty of useful information on what to look for in a new washing machine.

SEE ALSO: Washing Machine Drum Banging? (here’s why & what to do)

What’s the US’s laundry capital?
Washington, DC! 🤣

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my washing machine sound like it has gravel in it?

If your washing machine sounds like it has gravel in it, it’s probably because of one of the following; you haven’t removed the transit bolts, there are loose items rattling around the drum, there is something trapped between the drum and the tub, the waste pipe is clogged, the drum bearing is defective, the drive belt is defective, the shock absorbers are defective or loose or the clutch is defective.

What does a broken washing machine drum bearing sound like?

A broken drum bearing on a washing machine sounds like there is gravel in the drum when it is spinning. This will need replacing before you can safely use the appliance again.

How long do washing machines last?

Washing machines typically last anywhere between 10 to 13 years depending on how well they are maintained. With regular maintenance a washing machine could last for around 15 years.

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