How To: Eliminate washing machine vibration

February 29, 2012

Q. We have a front-load washer in the utility room on the main floor of an 1896 farmhouse with wooden floors. Even at the lowest spin-cycle setting, the vibration is extreme. The entire house shakes violently, and items fall off shelves in the adjoining bathroom. We were told after the fact that front-loading washers should be used only on concrete floors and that there is nothing we can do about this. Is there a solution? The floor is several inches above ground level with little support underneath, other than the original beams and joists.

Woodstock, Va.

A. Front-load washers cause more vibration than top-load machines. That’s partly because they spin faster, which helps save energy needed to dry the clothes, and because the direction of the spin adds vibration. Clothes spin to the top of the chamber but then usually drop straight down, over and over.

The ultimate solution might be to reinforce the floor from underneath, so that more joists share the job of supporting the weight of the washer. Options include adding cross-bracing between the floor joists, slipping in an additional joist (known as “sistering”) or nailing a 2-by-4 across the bottom of several joists (a “strongback”). However, before you resort to that, here are some other ideas.

First, make sure that the washer is level and that all four feet are firmly planted on the floor. (Try rocking the washer from a front corner to the one diagonally across in the back; if the washer moves, the feet aren’t right.)

Next, buy a couple of those plastic noodles that kids use as pool toys. They’re cheap, and in online chat sessions, some homeowners report that they’ve solved washing-machine vibration problems by stuffing the noodles between the washer and surfaces on either side.

You might also try what KitchenAid recommends: Move the washer aside, attach a three-quarter-inch-thick piece of plywood to the floor (with long screws directly over joists), then move the washer back.

From there, it gets more expensive. Several companies sell anti-vibration pads that slip under the washer feet. Consumer Reports magazine found that they did little good. However, a three-inch-deep platform under the entire washer, known as the Steadywash, did reduce vibrations into the floor, which is your issue. The Steadywash, now marketed as the ØVIB Washer Stand, is available for $200, and about $20 shipping, at www.0vib.com.

Before you fork over that much money, though, be aware of a couple of issues. Seicon Limited, the company that markets the pad, warns that you may still feel some vibration as the spin cycle ramps up or down, especially if your machine accelerates slowly. The company says this is most likely on machines built by Bosch or earlier LG machines. Also, even on the pad, a washer may still shake visibly from side to side. But the foam noodles might help dampen that.

If none of this works and you don’t want to invest in reinforcing the floor, you might try selling your machine to someone who can install it on concrete, perhaps in a garage or a basement. Then buy a new machine that doesn’t vibrate as much. Consumer Reports (www.consumer
reports.org
) includes vibration ratings in its washer reviews. You’ll need to subscribe to read them, though.

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

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