Washing Machine Bouncing or Vibrating
We often get calls about washers and washer dryers bouncing all over the place especially in newer properties.
There really is little mystery in this bar the fact that customers virtually always assume that the problem is caused by the appliance itself when it is generally not that appliance that is at fault at all. Again much of the reasons for an appliance bouncing or producing excessive vibration comes down to the cost of the appliance with regard to its construction and, on occasion, the installation itself.
If the appliance is vibrating abnormally directly upon installation then first of all check that any transit straps or bolts have been properly and completely removed, failure to do this correctly upon installation can cause untold damage to the machine and, in extreme, cases may render it unrepairable. Bear in mind that if you have not followed the installation instructions properly then the manufacturer's warranty may well not cover this damage and they could charge you for the service call as well as any spares required.
That is almost the only thing that can in fact cause vibration problems on a new appliance upon installation that is related to the machine itself. That said there are some things that can produce the same effect and is a design failure, for example Smeg have had issues with some of their appliances where they have been installed on a wooden floor and there is a modification kit in an attempt to resolve the issue and LG have a dampening kit specifically designed to tackle wooden flooring problems.
Washing Machines On Wooden Floors
You'll note there that I make heavy mention of "“wooden flooring". This is simply because this is the problem to a large extent in the UK which is made worse on many newer houses where they use sheets of wood instead of proper floorboards and lighter joists both of which serve only to amplify and carry any excess vibration across the room.
What has happened is that with the reduction in the price of the appliance the quality and weight of the components that make them up has been reduced also, instead of proper shock absorbers fitted to dampen excess vibration, we have "damper pads" and lighter springs as well as poor quality plastic shocks that rely solely on friction to dampen the vibrations. This, in conjunction with the issues presented by the appliance being sited on a wooden floor, only serve to worsen the issue of vibration and the obvious problems that it can cause.
And on top of that we have a seemingly insatiable desire to get the machines to spin faster and faster as time goes on. That will quite logically lead to even more problems.
When the machines are tested at factory they are generally tested on a concrete floor and spun up to full speed with a rope as a load test to satisfy EU requirements, to my knowledge this has not changed in over twenty years. However a bit of rope, like mooring line for a boat so it is heavy, distributes easily, quickly and presents the appliance with an absolutely ideal condition to test, your load of washing will present an entirely different test. Clothes, towels and sheets will generally never distribute as evenly and will present a more imbalanced load and, when you start to spin that around at over 1000rpm, the imbalance creates a "wobble" which transits and is supposed to be absorbed by the dampening system. The problem is that if the dampers are set to dampen this vibration on a concrete floor which is totally solid then on a wooden floor the dampers react slower due to the extra movement in the environment and vibration is transmitted into the floor itself. As the spin builds so does the excess vibration and the machine starts to appear to "bounce", often "walking" out of situ and in some cases across the floor.
It is not at all uncommon to hear customers complain about a machine being stopped from moving any further by the hoses holding it in place, or the pans on the cooker at the other side of the kitchen rattling on the stovetop.
But if you think about it, there's little chance that the machine (especially a new one running smoothly) could create the kind of vibration that could cause such a massive problem, so you have to look elsewhere for the problem. In 99.99% of cases it's in the flooring.
It is worthwhile to note that whilst the flooring takes the blame for this that the quality of the appliance will determine how it performs in many ways. Simply as a test, one manufacturer used to ask us to show the customer the appliance working on a doorstep or patio etc. to prove the appliance was working to the customer, funnily enough the problem vanished when the machine was on concrete. Once again it comes down to cost, the cost of the appliance to build and the quality of that build. We virtually never hear of vibration problems on mid to high spec German machines or the older Swedish built Asko Asea appliances, it just didn't happen. Why? Dead simple, they have four shock absorbers that are gas filled and sealed in them whereas most cheaper appliances have only two shockers and they rely on friction in addition to proper weights to counterbalance the effects of vibration.
Cheaper Washing Machines But More Problems
In addition the cheaper appliances tend to be light (relative to the better machines) and that also allows more movement, especially on an unstable floor. They tend to rely heavily on the springs at the top to "pull" the tub back up whilst the friction dampers at the bottom attempt to soak up any vibration. Often there is a mere two springs at the top and two dampers at the bottom. On more premium machines there is often more than this and much better suspension on the washing machine, not silly plasrtic dampers that are used on the cheap machines.
For many years Hotpoint relied on the two shockers soaking up all the vibration totally with the top springs there merely to steady the tub. Fine, until the suspension leg finally punches through the cabinet through excessive vibration or the cabinet corrodes, the shocker often embedding itself in the floor. I believe that under the new owners (Merloni) that this has been changed.
So, now you know why your machine could be bouncing you mad, but can you do anything about it?
Well yes and no. A simple cure to some extent is to fix a bit of worktop or decent weight of chipboard below the machine to try to give it a more solid base. This obviously has to be well fixed to the existing floor.
Screwing brackets onto the appliance cabinet itself then fixing it to the units (yes, I've seen it done many, many times) only serves to transmit the vibration into the kitchen units as well, often making the problem even worse!
Contact the manufacturer's service or local service agent and ask if there is any advice they can offer as most will give specific advice to that appliance, often being able to advise you of exactly what has to be removed in terms of transit brackets. If there is an issue with vibration problems, whilst they may not admit it to you, they may well arrange a visit and fit a "kit" of some sort to help alleviate the problem.
Bear in mind that if you do insist on a service visit and no fault is found with the appliance then you may be liable for any charges for that call.
If there is a "kit" to be fitted there's also no point in seeking an exchange as the next one to come will, almost certainly, have exactly the same issue.
I hope this was of use to you and helps you stop your kitchen from bouncing and rattling.
But the best tip I can possibly give to you here is that when you go to buy an appliance, speak to a specialist that knows about them! They will guide and advise you better on what you require and will generally ask all about where the machine is to be installed and the use it will be put to. They are almost never out to get more money out of the customer, they want you to come back to them safe in the knowledge that they advised you properly and sold you what you asked for.
The Bottom Line
The upshot of all this is, you can lessen the vibration and noise by using the likes of the anti-vibration feet that you can find in our online spare part store but, it is unlikely that you will completely cure it without tackling the fundemental reason.
Anti-vibration feet will help, no doubt about that but, they are not a magic bullet.