Damping vibrations from a washing machine's spin cycle
November 4, 2005 5:56 AM   Subscribe

My washing machine's spin and dry cycles shake the whole house. The neighbours have now complained. Does anyone have any good ideas or experience of damping vibration, particularly in the case of a washing machine? I was thinking of putting a blanket under the machine but I'm not sure how effective that will be. Suggestions welcome!

I should add I have a small flat and no garden, so I really need to use the machine's drying capabilities. I'd rather not have to replace the machine.
posted by nthdegx to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
Balance the load of clothes when you put it in. If it's thumping during the spin cycle, stop it, open it up, move some clothes from the fuller side to the less full side, and see if that helps.

Replace the springs inside the machine which suspend the washing drum (open it up, take a look, it won't bite). Perhaps they're all saggy and this is permitting excessive vibration.

Put something under the machine to stop it from transmitting the vibrations to the floor of the house. A old sock folded several times and placed under each of the four feet may help. Rubber or foam (piece of an old yoga mat?) will also work.
posted by jellicle at 6:06 AM on November 4, 2005

Also, make certain the machine is level from front to back and side to side.
posted by Dick Paris at 6:07 AM on November 4, 2005

There are some specialized products available. Try giving these people a call.
posted by springload at 6:23 AM on November 4, 2005

Most washing machines have a large weight attached to the drum, usually a concrete block. It's supposed to prevent too much vibration. Check that one or more of the bolts holding it on haven't come loose.
posted by veedubya at 6:24 AM on November 4, 2005

Making sure it's level isn't quite enough. There's usually some other trick to it too, for instance, mine (a stackable unit) needs to lean a little forward because it's so tall.

But yeah, play with balancing the load AND balancing the machine. There's a point where the basin should NOT get off balance, and the spinning should counterbalance itself. In the meantime, putting smaller loads in and making sure that they balance inside the machine will help.

Unfortunately, I can sympathize with your neighbors. It may not be serious to you, but my neighbors downstairs that still haven't figured out how to balance their machine... well, I've had pictures fall off my walls.
posted by SpecialK at 6:25 AM on November 4, 2005

Mine used to do that, and the washer was brand new. I went low tech and jammed a tennis ball between the wall and the washer. No problems since.
posted by tetsuo at 6:27 AM on November 4, 2005

Our washing machine (a front-loader) had that problem until we figured out that the people installing it hadn't removed the restraining bolts that were locking down the shock absorbers. Oops!

When we fixed that, things got a lot better. We still need to be careful about putting too much in the machine. With very full loads it shakes a lot more and makes much more noise. Smaller loads cause much less of a ruckus.

One other thing: some front loaders by spec are only supposed to installed on concrete slabs. You can ignore that (we do), but if you have a front-loader like that, you are going to have some vibration no matter what you do.
posted by alms at 6:33 AM on November 4, 2005

alms is right, our new washer walked across the kitchen floor daily until we discovered we had not removed the drum restraining clips.
posted by magpie68 at 6:42 AM on November 4, 2005

Sit on it. Seriously, it worked for me and you can read a book while doing so, just about.
posted by punilux at 6:43 AM on November 4, 2005

From a Physicist:

First you need to reduce the actual vibration of the washing machine. There are some great ideas above.

Second you need to reduce the transmission of the vibrations.

If you place your washing machine on top of two objects between which the frictional force is very small (e.g. two planes of glass) then when the top object moves, the bottom one will not (much). If the bottom object is not vibrating then the floor is not vibrating. If the floor is not vibrating ... etc.

It's-Crazy-But-It-Might-Just-Work-Idea: You could hang your machine from the ceiling. There may still be some transmission so this'd work best if you live on the top floor.
posted by alby at 6:53 AM on November 4, 2005

Our washing machine (a front-loader) had that problem until we figured out that the people installing it hadn't removed the restraining bolts that were locking down the shock absorbers. Oops!

I second this advice. I used to live in a townhouse with a recently installed washer/dryer combo (brand new) and whoever installed it did not remove a long bar that ran across the bottom (my guess is that it prevents the basin from shifting during transport). I tried everything from levelling, dampening, and just plain sitting on it and nothing worked.

When I was moving out I happened to be rummaging around and I noticed a little yellow tag sticking out from underneath the washer that said "Remove me after installation". So, I yanked the bar out, ran a few loads of clothing, and the issue was completely gone.
posted by purephase at 7:00 AM on November 4, 2005

We got some little rubber feet from Lakeland in the UK which are brilliant. Our washing machine used to vibrate all round the room and now it doesn't move.
posted by jontyjago at 7:07 AM on November 4, 2005

punilux wins for making a suggestion which sounds nice and innocent... ;-)

I'm glad you asked this, though - when I get home from work tonight, I'm going to have to check whether our machine has some kind of restraining bolt thing causing the same problem...
posted by Chunder at 7:56 AM on November 4, 2005

Damping the vibration transmission without solving the root problem may save your relationship with your neighbors, but it's going to cut the life of your washing machine in half.

If the leveling doesn't work (Use an actual bubble level, don't try to eyeball it.), and you're mechanically handy, Cheap and Easy Washer Repair will help you with figuring out if it's worth repairing, or if you should be looking at a new machine.
posted by Orb2069 at 9:10 AM on November 4, 2005

In my condo I used a 1/2" thick rubber mat that appeared to have been made from chipped waste rubber, and a 1" thick slab of MDF, positioned so as to not touch the walls.

It worked well enough that my downstairs neighbours swore up and down that it was all good, even though I thought it was pretty loud. I guess the sound wasn't transmitting down into their unit.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:22 AM on November 4, 2005

what's the floor construction? at one point we had a washing machine on floorboards that weren't supported both ends (a bit like a diving board). it wasn't a very good idea...
posted by andrew cooke at 9:58 AM on November 4, 2005

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