Tip & How-To about Washing Machines

Front Loader Excessive Vibration

When the manufacturers first introduced the front load washers, they did not take into consideration the possible problems created by the centrifugal force of the washer's spinning action. Most of these washers spin in excess of 1200 rpms! A spinning action that fast, coupled with the washers heavy weight and a floor that flexes (even a little) will cause a resonant vibration. In simple terms, it will cause the washer to bounce or walk.

Some of the early manufactured shock absorbers, weren't up to par and were uable to maintain the washer suspension over continuous use. The manufacturer's improved the shock absorbers to make them more stiff and minimize vibration. Replacing the shocks with heavier duty shocks does help, but if the flooring is not substantial enough the washer will continue to have problems.

If the washer is mounted on a pedestal, this can make the problem worse. Early model pedestals had an open back which caused it to "tin can" when the washer spun. "Tin-canning" is the phenomenon of the sides of the pedestal casing waffling in and out as the weight of the washer rides on top of it. This would also cause excessive vibration. The solution: The manufacturers redesigned the pedestals with an enclosed back that would prevent this from happening. If your washer is a later model, you should have an enclosed back on the pedestal. If there is no back panel, a stiffiner kit can be purchased and installed by any Do-It-Yourselfer. All you need is a drill and a screwdriver. Instructions are included. The part number is 134682000. I found it listed at searspartsdirect.com.

Check the leveling of the washer. You need to adjust the feet of the washer ensure it is level front-to-back and side-to-side. The feet are adjusted using a wrench to turn the legs up or down. Use a level to check your work. Once completed, you should be able to place your hands diagonally across opposite corners of the washer top and see if the washer moves at all. If unlevel (just the slightest) the washer will vibrate during the spin cycle. If the washer is mounted on a pedestal, you level the feet of the pedestal, NOT the washer. Make sure the washer is firmly mounted to the pedstal fisrt. Then, level the feet of the pedestal using the same procedures outlined before.

Another cheap method to get rid of vibration is to use foam padding to sandwich between the sides of the washer, the dryer and the wall. Swimming pool noodle foam works real well and is very inexpensive. About $3 or $4.

Overloading the washer with heavy items can cause excessive vibration due to an unbalanced load. If you load items so full that you can barely close the door, the load will have a hard time distributing evenly around the perimeter of the wash tub. Once wet, and the tub begins to tumble, the load becomes entangled and will pack on one side of the tub. This will cause the washer to jump and walk across the floor on the spin cycle. This can also cause premature wear to the door bellow, damage to the door latch and damage to the shock supports and counter-weights. Always follow the manufacturer's wash load recommendations as outlined in your owner's manual.

Now...when you've checked every other possibility, its simply not the washer. Most consumers don't like to hear this (especially owner's of newer homes). The worst places you can put a front loading washing machine is in a mobile home, or an upstairs laundry room. The floors in these areas are usually not as reinforced. Even homes with a laundry room over a crawl space or basement can sometimes have problems if the floor flexes. Most home builders don't take added reinforcement into consideration for the installation of a front loading washer.

An inexpensive way to reinforce a laundry room floor is to install a 4 x 8 sheet of heavy plywood under the washer. The plywood has to be a minimum of 3/4 inches thick and needs to be secured (screwed down) to the existing floor. This distributes the weight of the washer better. You can also safely fit BOTH the washer and dryer on top of it. A lot of people don't like this idea, because they feel it wrecks the look of the existing floor. I have seen homeowners, install a reinforcement this way and add paint, trim molding, and even tile to give it that "supposed to be there" look.

You may get mixed reviews about this, but I have seen it work for homeowners. Plus, its a less expensive option than hiring a contractor to firm up your sub-flooring or joists.

I hope you find this information informative and helpful. If you have questions, please let me know.

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