Shims to level a washing machine?
December 1, 2010 10:05 AM   Subscribe

What should we use as shims to go under our new washing machine? Apparently Samsung does not manufacture legs long enough to level their machines on our basement floor, so we need to put something under it. What do you suggest for a stackable material that won't compress too much over time and won't shift under the vibration?
posted by kavasa to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Simple solution, squares of thin plywood stacked and glued together to the right height. If the top or bottom surfaces are still too prone to sliding, glue or tack a piece of inner tube to one or both.
posted by Ahab at 10:09 AM on December 1, 2010

I just moved my oven and found out that it sits on four small slabs of granite (like you would make a countertop out of). Definitely incompressible, and if you use some light adhesive it should stick to the floor without any problems.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:09 AM on December 1, 2010

Response by poster: My concern with plywood would be that it would compress over time, so in a year it would no longer be level. I wasn't thinking of any sort of tile adhesive though, if we can find something like that, that might do it.
posted by kavasa at 10:12 AM on December 1, 2010

How much shimming do you need? The adjustments on the machine should allow you at least a full inch or more of adjustment by adjusting the high spots to the very minimum and the low spots to the maximum.

If you still need more shimming you have to deal with the fact that the vibration of the machine will cause it to walk off of shims. To prevent that you could use wooden boards and then use a spade bit to drill an indentation to capture the foot of the adjuster. The wood won't compress to any significant amount.
posted by JackFlash at 10:17 AM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

How large are the legs (in surface area). Their size will tell you if they exert too much pressure for plywood. The smaller the legs, the more pressure they exert on whatever they're resting on.

If you can find something like granite (not marble) I'd go with that because then you don't need to worry about compression.
posted by dfriedman at 10:18 AM on December 1, 2010

Plywood doesn't compress that easily, but even if it does compress over time, you can then just add another layer to the shim. For very thin layers, you can use cardboard (but, obviously, not corrugated cardboard, you have to use the solid kind). Or, as Ahab points out, you can an inner tube to cut out pieces of rubber which will work very nicely. But then, you may not have an extra inner tube lying around. But there is always cardboard. Save your cereal boxes. I use cardboard for lots of things, and if you have the patience, you can make quite thick stacks. Of course, you should tape them together so that they don't fall apart, if you do that.
posted by grizzled at 10:22 AM on December 1, 2010

Very unlikely that plywood will compress enough to cause problems. In fact, if it's a concrete floor and at all damp, the moisture absorbed by the wood would cause it to expand. No matter; adjust the foot in question to roughly the middle of its adjustment range, shim level, and adjust later as necessary using the foot's built-in adjustment. JackFlash's suggestion to sink the foot into a recess in the shim is excellent.
posted by jon1270 at 10:24 AM on December 1, 2010

Consider the material used in horse and cow pens that are super grippy and designed to handle a lot of weight. Something like this.
posted by jadepearl at 10:27 AM on December 1, 2010

The smaller the legs, the more pressure they exert on whatever they're resting on.

Sorry, let me make that more clear: the smaller the surface area of the legs, the more pressure per square unit of surface area they exert.
posted by dfriedman at 10:27 AM on December 1, 2010

Home Depot or Lowes sell sheets of tile - they come in a 5 x 5 or 10 x 10 grid pattern, and each tile is usually 1~2" on each side. They're cheap! The sheet will only be a few bucks. They're about 1/4 thick and will stack nicely.
posted by chickencoop at 10:29 AM on December 1, 2010

I'm not sure why you don't just use actual shims? They're wood, they compress upon one another until they're tight, and they shouldn't be bothered by vibration. You can buy a bundled stack of them from just about any home improvement store.
posted by matty at 10:41 AM on December 1, 2010

If your washer is really vibrating that much make sure that the travel screws are out. When we first installed our front loading washer we had a similar problem. However, what we had not done was take out the screws that the manufacturer installs for shipping. They are designed to make it so the drum does not vibrate. However, when they are in, the washer will move quite severely during the rinse cycle. When we took those out, it leveled fine and did not vibrate at all.
posted by bove at 10:45 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Consider also that wood will absorb some vibration, while stone will happily conduct vibration to whatever is beneath it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:30 AM on December 1, 2010

Here's another thought. Are the legs basically bolts? If so, can you just remove them and get something much longer with a matched thread? Then glue a piece of rubber, ply or furniture felt to the head so you don't scratch your floor.
posted by Ahab at 11:44 AM on December 1, 2010

If it's a new high-efficiency machine, they seem to spin at WAY higher RMP than older machines.

We bought a new HE washer & a dryer last weekend, and I read a lot of places that they prefer you place the washer on a concrete slab (or a really solid wood floor if you're not in the basement) because of the extra vibration caused by all the spinning.

One model goes to like 1100 RPM and the cheaper ones to 800 RPM. That extra speed really whips the water out of the clothes, allowing your dryer to run for a shorter time, too. But I bet those things walk all over the place if they're not set up well. (We're letting the delivery guys do it.)
posted by wenestvedt at 11:46 AM on December 1, 2010

hockey puck
posted by alikins at 1:24 PM on December 1, 2010

Response by poster: Well thanks everyone! I'm having a hard time picking one thing as best answer, but I feel like we've got some good ideas and will decide on one path or another later tonight.

Sadly the real solution would be to pour a new, level concrete slab in the laundry room to put 'em on, but that's more of a pain (and expense) than we want to deal with at the moment.
posted by kavasa at 2:58 PM on December 1, 2010

I just came in to suggest the new, level concrete slab. However, an alternative would be to get one of those under-washer/under-dryer drawer units, from a manufacturer who makes one with long enough legs to be level in your basement.
posted by davejay at 5:24 PM on December 1, 2010

FYI, horse mats give a lot under pressure and do compress over time.
posted by galadriel at 5:54 PM on December 1, 2010

I bought a pack of shims at Home Depot (LGT Lowes because HD's site is down) and used them happily. They're wedges, so you can stack as needed.
posted by knile at 3:16 AM on December 2, 2010

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