Can Washing Machine Vibrations Damage a Manufactured Home?

Whether your washing machine is new or old, it will always produce a significant level of vibration, sometimes profound enough to be felt from different parts of your manufactured home.

A normal washing machine generates vibrations in the region of 400 RPM. In extreme cases, however, a washer can let out vibrations as high as 800 RPM or even more.

It can be vibrations alone or vibrations accompanied by creaking noises which can be annoying. Vibrations are caused by many factors both from inside the machine and the area it is installed.

But, Can Washing Machine Vibrations Damage A Manufactured Home?

The straight answer is “yes” but it depends on the severity among other factors. Prolonged extreme vibrations can damage parts of the floor where the machine is installed. If the home is old enough, even moderate vibration can weaken the joists and parts of the wall to a point of requiring an extensive and expensive repair job.

Note that even low-frequency vibrations can still affect builds negatively if they are allowed to occur for an extended period.

The Floor & Joists

A normal vibrating washing machine (470 RPMs) produces vibrations with the same frequency as those vibrations your kids make when playing with pets or dancing.

This frequency can be in the range of 1.0 – 3.0 Hz (1/s) and is normally below the usual resonance frequencies recommended for floors.

Determining the effect of these vibrations on the floor over a given time can be difficult because the flooring can be made from a diverse range of materials.

And since vibrations don’t travel the same way in all materials, flooring and floors made from wood may be affected differently with the same frequency of vibrations in a year compared to another material, say, plastic or PVC.

For joists, the effect of vibration can depend on length – frequencies are inversely proportional to the length of the joist I.e. the longer the joist the less the frequency.

Typical resonant frequencies for wood joists are:

  • Joist span 3 meters – 12 Hz
  • Joist span 6 meters – 9 Hz
  • Joist span 9 meters – 7 Hz
  • Joist span 12 meters – 6 Hz
  • Joist span 18 meters – 5 Hz

So, what would be the effects of running a vibration-prone washing machine on a floor with wooden flooring and wooden joists (which are default joists in virtually all manufactured homes)?

As aforementioned, it is going to depend on the severity of the vibrations and even the age of your floor.

If you use your washing machine frequently while vibrating at about 470 RPM, the floor and joists will remain largely unaffected unless it was installed poorly, in which case it will start producing noises when you walk on it.

In extreme cases, however, say the vibration is approaching 500 or even more, your joists may deteriorate quite rapidly.

Also, the screws and nails holding the parts of your floor are likely to loosen faster and end up requiring more frequent repair and maintenance work.

If you revisit the typical resonant frequencies for wood joists listed above, you will note that the frequency is much lower with a longer joist span.

So, the trick to cutting the effects of your washing machine vibrations on your floor would be to install it away from any joists.

If you must install it on a joist, do so on its extreme end where it is joined with the wall.

Because the joists run across the floor, the vibration will weaken with the increasing length to a point of being near harmless when it hits on the other extreme end.

Front loading washing machines – 1000 RPM!

Front loading washing machines deserve a special mention because they are the noisiest and most vibration prone washing machines you could ever lay your hands on.

Yes, front-loading washing machines can produce vibrations as high as 1000 RPM – that’s insane, isn’t it? The reason why front-loading washing machines vibrate so much has something to do with the fact that the load is normally unbalanced.

That one, and the fact that they spin at a neck-breaking speed makes them shaky during operation. This is the worst type of washing machine you can ever install in a manufactured home.

With such vibrations, it is near impossible to even read or do any other harmonious task in your home. If you didn’t know, 1000 RPMs are enough to move small lightweight items such as a doll lying on a table.

Anything between 800 and 1000 RPMs can be tolerated by humans quite easily but only for a short period. That’s why some homes still use this type of washing machine, probably because their advantages over other types of washers may be too remarkable to switch to other options.

But because the floor of the manufactured home is built differently compared to the kind of floor you would find in site-built homes, don’t think you can tolerate this type of washers without devastating repercussions.

Prolonged use of a front-loading washer in a manufactured, at top speed, can separate any two parts of the home held together by even the strongest adhesive your contractor could find.

This means a bigger part of your insulation installations will be affected because they are normally held in attics and walls with special glues.

The joists too may be affected. The screws and nails that hold parts of your walls and the floor and even the roof may be loosened as well with prolonged exposure.

3 Ways To Reduce Manufactured Home Washer-induced Vibrations

Washers are a must-have, so you don’t get rid of them. Rather, you can apply one of the proven remedies and cut the level of vibrations and the harm they inflict on your home.

1. Remove Shipping Bolts and Install Your Machine as Instructed by The Manufacturer

The common cause of vibrations in non-front-loading washers are errors with the installation process – if you don’t install your washer properly, you might be compelled to reinstall it afresh in the future due to out-of-hand noises and vibrations.

Even for the front-loading washer, you need to remember to remove the shipping bolts first before using or less you’ll have to contend with vibrations.

While installing your washer, ensure it level before wrapping up the installation process.

To check whether it’s level, grab the sides, and see if it rocks; you know things are level and firm if it remains sturdy and upright.

Be sure to install the washer on a solid surface made of concrete or a material that can absorb vibrations.

2. Don’t Underload Your Washer

Sometimes a washer may vibrate more if it is loaded with just a half or less its capacity.

Most washers are designed to work smoothly when filled to at least 2/3 the capacity.

So, your dirty jeans must wait until you have a significant amount of other dirty linens so that they can fill the machine.

3. Buy A Washer with Anti-Vibration Technology

Virtually all washer brands have one or two technologies on their products that help them cut on vibrations. Choose a washer one such technology.

For example, most washers from Samsung feature the VRT® Technology (or Vibration Reduction Technology) that reduces the RPMs produced by their product.

With VRT® technology, when the washing machine spin cycle hits about 400 RPM, it stops to pause and vibrates for just a few moments.

During this whole time, vibrates and pauses, a bit while checking the load balance in the compartment. VRT® technology will identify the point where the bundle of clothes is unbalanced.

If the washing machine “notices” the load is well balanced, the spinning cycle continues and escalates to the maximum RPM possible with minimal vibration.

As we mentioned earlier, the brief pause and vibration recorded when the washing machine spin cycle reaches about 400 RPM is the standard RPM.

Conclusion

All washing machines vibrate.

However, you know something should be done when you can feel the vibrations if far off rooms like the bedroom.

A normal washing machine generates vibrations in the region of 400 RPM.

In extreme cases, however, a washer can let out vibrations as high as 800 RPM or even more. Extreme vibrations, however, say something like 500 RPM or even more, can cause your joists to deteriorate quite rapidly.

Also, the screws and nails holding the parts of your floor are likely to loosen faster and end up requiring more frequent repair and maintenance work.

Even worse, prolonged use of a front-loading washer in a manufactured, at top speed, can separate any two parts of the home held together by even the strongest adhesive your contractor could find.

You can do something about it. First, think of installing the washer in the garage if possible.

Also, never underload the machine; only use the washer when filled to the level recommended by the manufacturer.

Remember to remove shipping bolts and install your machine as instructed.

Virtually all washer brands have one or two technologies on their products that help them cut on vibrations. 

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