Consumer Reports To Develop Front Loader Vibration Test

svcmgrApril 8, 2007

I just received my 2007 Spring edition of Consumer Reports Newsletter "Inside Consumer Reports."

According to the newsletter, Consumer Reports is currently developing a test that will determine "Vibration Performance" in Front Loaders.

The article states, "While Consumer Reports gives high marks to front-loaders in terms of washing ability and energy efficiency, the magazine and web site ( have received letters from consumers complaining about noise and vibration."

The newsletter article features a Bosch NEXXT Front Load Washer pictured under the article title, "A WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN' GOIN' ON."

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I sent a note about four weeks ago when first researching to the following members of the new york based appliance research team:

Appliances, Home Improvement
Director Mark Connelly
Program Leaders Tara Casaregola,
Bernard Deitrick, Robert Karpel, Ed Miller
CR HQ101 Truman Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10703-1057

Vibration across most models and leaks in some specific ones are huge issues with so much second floor use touted.

not too difficult to create three or so wood frame floor simulators and see which machines ones are no good, and which seem to perform the best, especially with some brands/models claiming to have solved the problem on "second floor installation" as one can currently hear embedded in the musac/advertising while shopping at lowes.

will it be somewhat subjective? yes just the the majority of CR tests.

the use of the term "solid" floor and then the refusal to define it (call the makers, no straight answer) in my mind is a serious problem.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 7:03PM
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In addition to your note, it appears that Consumer Reports has been hearing from many complaining consumers. In the Inside Consumer Reports Newsletter article, I noted many of the familiar complaints I heard as a Bosch service manager. For Bosch NEXXT washers, second floor installations were the majority of the vibration problem, with some customers promising to buy a different brand if we would just take back their Bosch NEXXT. Hopefully, Consumer Reports Vibration Test will help to better define "solid floor" and which brands/models perform best when installed on the second floor.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 8:15PM
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In my opinion this is long overdue. It's going to be interesting to see if there truly is a performance difference between different brands of front loaders.

I also hope that CR tests top loaders as well. Lots of people have had trouble with base mount top loaders in second floor installations as well. In fact, I would expect to see a larger difference amongst different brands of top loaders than with front loaders.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 10:20PM
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top loaders are not so much of an issue with second floors because the g forces go sideways (lateral to the floor) and are not therefore amplified (made worse) by the floor. a second floor installation of a top loader is not any more likely to walk. Frontloaders create g forces up and down when not perfectly balanced. this will be amplified by the floor.

nowhere in the installation or selling or sales training does there appear to be the sensible question for second floor installs, which is placement close to the bearing wall to stop the floor from "giving" and bouncing back therefore amplifying the up and down vibration.

less give in joists due to inherent sturdiness, proximity to wall and/or sistering, less subfloor vertical movement due to proper securing of subfloor to joists, and on this tpic the great unknown variable of engineering of particular machine (which consumer reports needs to test) are the variables.

I have come to believe a lot of problems are with the floors but the makers or the machines don't wish to bring this up or use what must be a pretty good collection of data because of the growing market segment of second floor laundry rooms.

But hte mahcines could be engineered to comepnsate and but it is consumer reports which is the proper body to test this very important issue.

It is not just a quality of lie issue from noise. building damage (mostly cosmetic but nonetheless potentially costly) and washer damage and premature aging of the machine, itself are probable outcomes. Even the probability of leaks due to vibration are not only more likely on the second floor, but seriously more costly.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 8:42PM
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re: "nowhere in the installation or selling or sales training does there appear to be the sensible question for second floor installs, which is placement close to the bearing wall...

FWIW - The Miele W4840 installation manual does give some guidelines for placement on wooden joist floors, although they don't specifically mention 2nd floor as a seperate case."

From the Miele manual..

"If the installation must be on a wooden joist floor:

 the corner of a room where the stability of the floor is at its greatest is the best place to install the washer.

 the machine must be leveled and securely positioned.

 to avoid vibration while spinning, the machine should not be installed on soft floor coverings.

^ Install the unit on a 1 1/4" (32 mm) thick, 28 x 31 inch (71x78 cm) wide plywood base. Ideally the base should be large enough to span several joists and should be anchored to the joists and not just the floor boards."

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 11:17AM
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wow. at least one maker has good advice. after calls to many makers and looking at a lot of manuals I saw nothing. it is great miele is giving good advice

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 2:06PM
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It's typical of Miele to give good advice, as part of their standard of customer service. Their FLs may be likely to experience fewer problems since they have hydraulic suspension. Bosch's advice to me after repeated vibration issues on our FL situated on a first floor alcove over a crawlspace: "Use double-sided tape between the legs and the floor." But our own solution, thankfully independent of Bosch's brainpower, was to purchase Kellett anti-vibration pads, which have greatly reduced the problem.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 6:48PM
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Miele washers are HEAVY and I am not sure I would even think about putting one on a second floor especially if you are dealing with new housing construction in the U.S.A.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 2:24AM
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Weight is the problem with all Front Loaders. This is because Front Loaders stabilize their wash tubs during the spin cycle by using large heavy pieces of concrete. The problem with doing it this way is the resulting heavy washer becomes unsuited for installation on any kind of flexible floor.

This is easier to understand if you imagine a weight suspended on the end of a rubber band. If you bounce the rubber band up and down you can find a bouncing frequency that causes the weight to swing about wildly.

In a front load washer this "critical" frequency corresponds to the spin speed of the wash tub. The weight on the end of the rubber band coresponds to the weight of the washer, and the rubber band corresponds to the floor that the washer is installed on.

In a washer the spin speed is fixed, as is the washer weight. The floor however, varies with each installation, and if your washer happens to be on a floor that causes the bouncing of the washer to be excited, you are going to have vibration problems, and there's not much you can do about it.

The kicker here is the fact that Front Loaders have the spin axis of their wash tubs aligned paralell to the floor, so any amount of imbalance in the wash load is going to drive vibration directly into the floor, just like bouncing the weight on the end of the rubber band causes the weight to bounce wildly.

The only practical way to fix this problem is to not weigh the washer down with concrete, and flip the spin axis up so that it's perpendicular to the floor instead of paralell, but then you'd have a Top Loader.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 7:32AM
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jerrod, You have it backwards.
Front loaders which are heavy relative to capacity are BETTER, not worse, on a second floor installs.

Dynamic forces are the issue, and they would be generally higher in front loaders that have less gross unloaded weight!

The ratio of drum diameter to gross weight -- especially gross weight increases deriving from heavier counterweights -- would decrease forces and problems on second floor installs.

Do you do realize the average GE, Whirlpool, Maytag and Kenmore top loader weighs twice as much filled as the average front load Meile? (45 gallons of water weighs 360 lbs.) Are you saying top loaders are the worst in second floor installs?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 8:41AM
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It's true that top loaders weight more during the wash portion of their cycles because they are filled with water, but all this water is drained before the washer goes into spin. During the spin cycle a top loader is lighter than an equivalent front loader because front loaders are weighed down with concrete, and it's during the spin cycle where all the vibration & shaking problems occur.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 9:28AM
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tl45 said...

"Front loaders which are heavy relative to capacity are BETTER, not worse, on a second floor installs."

That must explain the engineering behind the big capacity Miele 48XX machines. Miele said it weighs about 290 lbs which is far more than any other consumer FLer out there. As a comparison, the very high-end LG Steam washer weighs in almost 100 lbs less at 192 lbs with Bosch Nexxt machines at 221 lbs.

I agree with you that it's absolutely the dynamic loading which is at issue rather than any reasonable static load. If your really worried about things around 300 lbs on your second floor, absolutely DO NOT embrace your spouse while on your second floor, or make sure your standing in the corner of the room with your feet spanning atleast two joists underneath :-)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 12:18PM
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washerman my point goes to the statement about meile, which was backwards.

I have lived in Europe (ten years) and had the chance to own and do some minor repairs on two front loaders. I can assure you the added weight is not from the casing, or the pump. it is the drum and counterweight(s).

Gross weight is nearly meaningless. one sees bathtubs, aquariums, hot water heaters and as Gordon mentioned, people all wieghing grossly more and placing more weight per square foot on second and third floor applications. (my mom's 60 gallon heater is on a second floor and has a smaller footprint than a washer.)

The gross weight of the meile derives FROM its stabilizing mechanisms. Both the per se presence of the added mass AND its particular use in stabilizing mean the washer is MORE appropriate than a lighter front loader of equal or more capacity!

The problem with US front loaders is there drums are up to double the diameter of typical euro models. You do realize the basic physics? this can result in a n exponential higher g force, and an increased chance of the floor amplifying the imbalances.

Not only is the drum bigger here it seems to be relatively lighter and have less counterwieght. This is probably about delivery parameters! To me a heavy drum, an heavy counterweight are probably more efficacious than the shock absorber and other dampening mechanisms.

My point remains the same. To state the meile is wrong for second floor installs because of its weight is false logic. The extra weight is exactly what reduces heavy dynamic forces delivered to the floor and total structure.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 2:16PM
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tl45, you are absolutely right about the extra weight reducing the heavy dynamic forces delivered to floor. That's the primary reason that washer manufacturers use counterweights in their front load machines. Without counterweights front load machines would be unrunnable.

The problem is all this weight, while reducing the dynamic forces, exacerbates resonance issues that come from putting washers on weak second storey floors.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 7:59PM
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After reading the above, in-depth, follow-up postings regarding Front Loader Suspensions, along with Structural Flooring Requirements, I now find it amusing that Bosch has been advising their customers, service managers and technicians that Double-Sided Adhesive Tape applied between the leveling feet and floor is the cure for noisy/vibrating spin performance on the Bosch NEXXT Front Load Washer. Additionally, Bosch advised their technicians that raising the front leveling feet 1/4" higher than the rear legs would assist in preventing vibration and walking of the washer during the spin cycle.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 10:34PM
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"nowhere in the installation or selling or sales training does there appear to be the sensible question for second floor installs, which is placement close to the bearing wall..

Actually almost all manufacturers have a statement regarding positioning the washer in a corner and possibly adding a sheet of plywood to the floor to increase rigidity.
Frigidaire, GE, Bosch, LG, Maytag, and Whirlpool all make similar statements like the Miele but Whirlpool probably does the best job of explaining the "how and why".
I've also seen toploaders have the same problems with vibration on second floor installs so it's not unique to just frontload machines.

As to adding double stick tape. I have seen floors where the concrete or tile was very slick and no matter how well a machine was leveled the unit would scoot. I have actually started carrying tread tape in my truck which looks like heavy coarse sandpaper with a sticky back. I cut 2 in squares and stick it to the floor where the feet sit to give the feet something to grip.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 1:37AM
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Been reading all the posts re 2nd floor laundry installation. Does anyone have any info on the extreme vibration causing the front load door to come open. I am still dealing with clean up and my insurance...but almost $10,000 in water damage.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 3:27PM
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The door on a front load washer should never come open when the washer is running, regardless of vibration. This is because the doors on these washers have electric interlocks that automatically lock the door when the washer cycle is started. If the door won't lock, then the washer can't start.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 7:46PM
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I understand and agree. The washer is only a year old and service people said everything checks out. However my daughters and I personally witnessed the door come open pouring water and clothes onto the floor. Can you think of anything that could cause this to happen?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 9:21AM
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No, I can't. Which washer was it? Was there any obvious damage done to the door mechanism?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 6:19PM
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svmagr- Actually, I don't find Bosch's response to be amusing at all, and neither does our local repair guy, who is sick of having to visit the same houses to repeatedly address the same problems caused by poor design. And yes, he previously had tilted the washer, which helped a bit. I actually have to say that although the Kellett pads did significantly reduce the vibrations, the machine danced like there was no tomorrow within 2 weeks, rather than than 1 year that it's taken in the past. Regardless, I'm going with Miele next time. I would choose superior design and far better customer service over Bosch's excuses for either one.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 8:38PM
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Have you tried the Holding Brackets?

"Secure the feet of the washing machine with holding brackets (set) from Bosch Customer Service (WMZ 2200)."

Retail price is $24.90 per Bosch's Spare Parts homepage.

HTH, Alex

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 10:37PM
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Neither was I actually amused by Bosch's response to customer vibration and noise complaints on the Bosch NEXXT Front Loader. As a Bosch service manager, I was directed to advise our servicers and technicians of the so-called vibration fixes. Somehow, I knew the fixes would not work based on the limited suspension utilized on the Bosch NEXXT washers.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 8:58PM
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The washer is a Frigidaire FTF530FS. The service guy said he was able to open the door manually before the end of a cycle which the machine should not allow. I am still working with the dealer and manufacturer to have the machine replaced. I will never use it again!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2007 at 6:23PM
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I agree! That thing should go straight back to the dealer. It sounds like a safety hazard, and that's on top of the flood risk.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2007 at 11:11PM
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