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House shaking - who to call

Posted by jennifw (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 20, 11 at 15:08

I have a 1936 cottage. At some point, the previous owners built a 2nd story in the attic space. They built it on top of the 2x6 ceiling joists instead of putting in the right 2x10 or 2x12 supports.

Last summer/fall, we remodeled the upstairs after the toilet leaked. We replaced 90% of the ceiling joists with 2x12s but left the utility room alone. (why? I don't really know). All was fine until we got a new washing machine. It is a front load, super sonic thing and it spins ultra fast.

Everytime the washer goes into the spin cycle, the whole house shakes. Doors downstairs rattle, pictures on the wall vibrate, etc. I am afraid we are going to shake something lose, but I dont know who to call. My previous contractor is too busy/not interested/etc. (side note - never use a neighbor as your GC)

So, what kind of person do I call?

Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: House shaking - who to call

Call your local appliance dealer and see what kind of trade in they will give you for a top load washer. That or move your washer down stairs.


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RE: House shaking - who to call

It sounds like you need to move the washing machine to the bottom floor and then have an engineer examine the structural layout of your house.
Upgrading the floor joists won't get the job done unless those joists are properly supported.


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RE: House shaking - who to call

I would call people you got washer from & tell them you think your machine is not balanced & ask them to balance it. Other thing I can think of is if you are overloading it. Did you read the booklet that came with it. Most washers have "feet" that screw up or down to get it balanced. So I would start there. (My dad used to be appliance repairman)
Good Luck! it may look OK or you could try to rock it or move it or get flashlight & get down on floor & see if you can put a piece of paper under 1 of the feet. If you can that is 1 needing adjusting. You can try to do it yourself but if that doesn't work call them back out. If it isn't the machine then it could be other things mentioned. This is when the problem started so best place to start.


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RE: House shaking - who to call

Here's a link with suggestions to reduce vibration:

http://washervibrationfix.blogspot.com/

Not sure your house could support it but a heavy base might help - I'm thinking a 2" think concrete slab slightly larger than the base of your washer. You'd need a circular saw to cut plywood for the mold, a screw gun to screw it together and a trowel to smooth the concrete and something to mix the concrete mix in. Google how to make concrete countertops for info and remember, this won't be a countertop and therefore doesn't need to look great.
A couple of bags of Quickrete 5000 will cost $10 and another 10 for the wood, $5 for rebar.


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RE: House shaking - who to call

A 2 inch slab of concrete in a house that shakes when the washer runs?? I would run away from that idea.


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RE: House shaking - who to call

You can buy dampers for the legs. If that doesn't work, move the machine to the basement.
I doubt the issue is "balancing"


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RE: House shaking - who to call

The front loader roattes about a horizintal axis. Forces act in a vertical directrion. Not surprising it excites an elevated floor in the vertical (the most susceptible and noticeable direction). A conventional top loading machine roattes about a vertical axis and the resulting forces are primarily horizontal where the floor is much stiffer.

Either move the machine to a slab on grade or get a top loading machine.


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RE: House shaking - who to call

Sounds like you have a lot of vibration. We do too, same kind of washer, but the smaller volume Euro version, not full size. Our first such washer was an AEG and there was little vibration. We got a new Bosch last year and I notice it vibrates more - not sue if it spins faster, or is just balanced differently. Love the machine other than this! But I find if I turn the spin speed down from 1000 to 900 it vibrates less.

Our house is 1905, and is built with 2x3 studs and 2x6 joists, not kidding. I don't notice any nails popping or drywall cracking.

You don't actually say what floor the washer is on, but ours is on the main floor, with basement below and attic above.

I would concentrate on the machine, as there is nothing wrong with your house. Go and talk to the store where you bought it or another store where they specialize in such things, or isn't there an appliance forum here?

KarinL


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RE: House shaking - who to call

No, Bill's idea of adding mass can work, and it does work in "typical" construction. Now the question is if it'll work in this house since it is somewhat structurally compromised.

Bill's 2" thick slab at about 30" square will equate to about 1 cubic foot of concrete for a total weight of 150lbs. That's only 25 lbs/sqft load.

The other thing I've done is made a sandwich out of cement board and mass loaded vinyl. A square of MLV on the floor, a square of cement board on top of that, another layer of cement board, more MLV, more cement board, etc. Stack it to about 2" to 2-1/2" high.

Others have used scrap carpet instead of MLV.

Adding mass usually works when the washer is reverberating through the house's framing, it's more common with engineered I-joists due to their uniform nature. It may or may not work in your house. The mass might be enough to settle things, it could make some improvement, or it could have no effect at all.

A crapshoot, but it's a fairly inexpensive crapshoot.


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RE: House shaking - who to call

The mass might be enough to settle things, it could make some improvement, or it could have no effect at all.

Or it could come crashing through the ceiling (:


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RE: House shaking - who to call

If a 150lb person can stand in the room with their feet together without falling through the laundry floor, that's 150 lbs/sqft. If they stand on one foot, that's 300 lbs/sqft. If they hold a trained circus seal in their arms and have their pet dog thrown over their shoulder that's 410 lbs/sqft.

But they should do all that on an empty stomach. A stomach full of bacon and eggs can throw everything off.

The slab Bill proposed is 25 lbs/sqft.


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RE: House shaking - who to call

Well, I for one, will not argue that logic!


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RE: House shaking - who to call

By demonstrating that there's not much additional load you're also demonstrating that theres not much additional mass. So any damping would be minimal.

Also the vibration isn't necessarily due to floor response (adding mass would change the natural frquency of the floor) but rather to the forcing function of the spinning washer drum itself.


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RE: House shaking - who to call

This product got 4.5 stars on Amazon after 53 reviews:

http://www.amazon.com/Anti-walk-Silent-Feet-Anti-vibration-Machines/dp/B001LKUFEO

Some more ideas here :
http://ask.metafilter.com/26626/Damping-vibrations-from-a-washing-machines-spin-cycle

A few obvious things to check:
- The bolts to lock down the shock absorbers during shipping were removwed during installation.
- The feet are adjusted so they're all in firm contact with the floor.
- All anit-vibration mechanisms are in good order - for example, the ballast weight inside the machine, usually concrete, (mine is in a Kenmore He4t), has all attachments in place. (No missing bolts.)

This second one is tricky - I was having a little too much vibration too; it took a couple of attempts to adjust the feet before I got it solidly supported. Also, my attempts to shim the feet to accomodate an uneven concrete floor were unsuccessful. I ended up patching the concrete for a smooth surface before I got good solid support.

- The thread I linked to above includes a suggestion to add ballast to the top of the machine - they used jugs of water. (Doesn't make total sense to me but they claim it worked.)

BTW, digging into a washer isn't a beginner's job so if you're not handy, call a repair guy, hopefully a good one. Getting the "boot" back on tighly can be a challenge. My boot had a tear so I called a repair guy to replace it but soon it came off. Three subsequent repair visits resulted in the same outcome. I finally fixed it myself and it wasn't easy; don't know why the Sears repair guys couldn't get it strapped on tightly enough.

Re: the concrete base, isn't Handymac a PE, (professional engineer)? I'd love to see some calculations.

OK, enough with the walking washer. I've got stuff to do.

Bill


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RE: House shaking - who to call

Here's a quote from bill_g_web's second link.
Did you check that it was installed properly?

"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."


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RE: House shaking - who to call

[quote]"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." [/quote]

Interesting about it being specs for concrete only. Ours is on the 2nd floor and we don't have a concrete slab at all, except in the garage. (Pier & beam foundation)

Load amount doesn't seem to matter so I dont' think I am overloading it, but will test. I will also check the stabilization bolts. The (big box store) guys just delivered it, hooked it up and then fought with me that they scratched my stairs taking the old one out. Grumpy guys who probably didn't do the extra step of setting it correctly.

And for whoever suggested basement - no can do. No basements here in Dallas.


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RE: House shaking - who to call

jennifw
You' re missing the fundamental point that a front loaded machine spins about a horizontal axis. The unbalanced load (clothes inside the machine) will cause forces in the vertical direction, as opposed to a top load machine where the drum rotates about a vertical axis and causes forces in a horizontal direction. If you jump up and down (vertical) on the floor you will typically cause a lot more vibration than if you stand on the floor and shift your weight side to side (horizontally). The vertical vibrations will be reacted at the supporting walls and carry throughout the house. So would the horizontal reactions but it's generally not as noticeable.

The reference to a "concrete slab" assumes that the slab is at grade (directly on ground as in the bottom floor of the house) and not necessarily that the surface needs to be concrete. To use my example again, if you go to the bottom floor of the house and jump up and down, you likely won't feel/genreate vibrations at all, but if you do the same thing upstairs (especially in the middle of the room) you'll shake the whole house.

In your original post you say that "all was fine until we got a new washing machine".

Was the old one upstairs too without any issues?
Was it a top loader?

I believe that your problem is using a front loading machine on an elevated floor. Hopefully you can find a vibration damping solution that works but I agree completely with the following statement from the linked site:
"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." With "that" referring to the installation of the machine on an upper floor.

I hope that helps.


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RE: House shaking - who to call

If the house is shaking from any washer type, I think there's bigger issues at stake than balancing a washer!


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RE: House shaking - who to call

"If the house is shaking from any washer type, I think there's bigger issues at stake than balancing a washer!"

Not necessarily. Haven't you ever been in a house where if you walk across the room you'll hear noises from the china cabinet? Back in the day, I couldn't use my record turntable on an elevated floor without it skipping. (high-end turntable with a low stylus pressure). It doesn't mean the house has problems just that the stiffness of the floors is not suited for vibrations sources.

Heck, our dishwasher makes the countertop vibrate a little.

Washers/dryers and other machines generate niose and vibrations. It's a fact. That's why they are frequently located in the basement, garage, or other out of the way place. Many times structural design considers static loads only and does not consider dynamics.

Lastly, "house shaking" is a relative terms. To some the aforementioned rattling in the china closet is percieved as "shaking the whole house" or an "earthquake".


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RE: House shaking - who to call

"Everytime the washer goes into the spin cycle, the whole house shakes. Doors downstairs rattle, pictures on the wall vibrate, etc. I am afraid we are going to shake something lose, but I dont know who to call".

I took this as extreme, but you make a good point. Out here in seismic country, certain aspects of the framing have give required by code. Not enough to really feel due to a washer though, pretty much geared for seismic ground movement. Only the op knows how severe the situation is and if major, should have a consultation from a stuctural engineer.


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