With the popularity of 1st and 2nd floor laundry rooms comes a new problem. Because the upper floors are less rigid than lower floors there tend to be vibration problems when a washing machine is used. This vibration can be severe and because sleeping areas are normally upstairs they can be quite disconcerting. The popularity of front loading washers adds to the problem because they spin at twice the speed of the older top loaders. Also, the spin force is horizontal so the floor receives more of that force.
In new homes the problem could be addressed at the early planning states by reinforcing the laundry room floor. Because this adds to the construction costs, most builders and architects are reluctant to do this.
Higher end washers automatically stabilize to reduce vibration. The Bosch washing machine is well known for quiet, dependable models. Also, upper floors water leaks are especially tragic. Their aqua stop systems will stop water from flooding your home.
After the house is built if the bottom of the laundry room floor is accessible the space between the floor joists and directly below the washer can be shored using wood to make the area more rigid. If this is not possible a 4′x4′ cement board or thicker plywood can be placed under the washer to make it stable.
The easiest way for a consumer to address the issue is to make considerations when shopping for a new washing machine.
If the laundry room floor’s rigidity is suspect there are top loading washing machines that now use the same amount or slightly more water than the efficient front loaders. These new washers don’t have transmissions. They use direct drive motors that use magnetism to agitate and spin the tub.
This is not new technology. Domestic manufacturers have “adapted” the direct drive into their units from foreign appliance manufacturers. This is good news for the consumer. These washers have fewer than a dozen moving parts for few repairs. They are quieter because of the lack of a transmission or gearcase. This makes a world of difference for noise suppression.
Note: Many washers tend to have problems with odor. This has has spurred many entrepreneurs creating a large cottage industry of cleaners and other ways to keep odor away. We created Smelly Washer in 2006 to help with appliance repair. Tide has their washing machine cleaner and Whirlpool created Affresh to help with alleged design problems in their clothes washers.
Changing washing habits by reducing amount of detergent and softener used and doing a hot wash or soak and even an extra rinse as the last cycle on wash day has shown to drastically reduce odor problems in washers and laundry. Preventive maintenance before residue can accumulate is key to stopping odor transfer to towels and other laundry.