Thread Number: 41848
Industrial Washer Failure
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Post# 616830   8/13/2012 at 17:17 (3,767 days old) by Pulsator (Saint Joseph, MI)        

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My summer job while I'm in college is working at a local fitness center as a locker room attendant. AKA, I collect, wash, dry, fold, and restock the towels as well as all the amenities our locker rooms offer. Our fitness center was designed to sustain an average of 1,500 - 2,000 active members however we tend to hover between 5,000 and 7,000 members! One of the perks of our fitness center is unlimited full size bath towels. In order to wash all these towels, the center bought two 75lb capacity Unimac soft mount washers and two 120lb capacity Unimac dryers. For the first 2 years, these machines worked just fine, but then we surpassed 2,000 active members and management thought nothing of it, merely excited about the extra cash these members would bring in. They did not anticipate huge problems in the laundry room to develop! My supervisor's plan to deal with the extra towels was to stuff the washers until we couldn't stuff anymore in. This "worked" for a little while. Then our numbers began to climb again and this no longer worked. Management was asked what we should do about it, their answer was just to stuff more into the washers. So we did. For 2 years, we ran the washing by stuffing them to the max, then turning them on, letting the load get saturated and weighed down, then stopping the machine and stuffing more in. This worked in the summer time (slow season) but in the winter we were stopping the machine 3-4 times and re-stuffing to try and keep up with the towel demand. Obviously, by this point, the towels coming out were gross, but no one cared, not even the members complained about the severe staining the towels had. The dryers reached 180F and the towels were deemed sanitized after that. After dealing with a machine breaking down every other week (the machines are under full warranty until the end of August) washer number 1 finally had a big failure. It was on main bearing number 2 which was already failing after less than a year. The machine stopped spinning at all and when the repair guys came out to fix it, they told us that the bearing support structure had cracked. So, they fixed it. They welded it back together, slapped bearing number 3 in and it worked again... For a year. On August 1, 2012, I was working the noon to 4:30pm shift and the washer had begun accelerating for the final spin. Mind you, these are soft mount washers, they spin at 1,000 RPM which is impressive for a 75lb capacity washer. But then it started to make an odd chattering noise as it accelerated, it had reached 500 RPM now and it was apparent that something was wrong. The chattering got louder until it had reached 900 RPM and then the machine made the most horrible metal on metal scraping sound I have ever heard and I slammed the E-stop and ran out of the room. The entire fitness center heard the noise that washer made! After collecting myself and getting over the hyperventilation, I started screaming at my boss. I had been telling her for years that something different had to be done, that we couldn't just keep overloading the washers and expect them not to break.


The repair guys came out again, and sure enough, their weld had broken the bearing support had cracked all the way through and the bearing was completely trashed. They decided to replace the bearing support and the bearing rather than welding it back together again and then ran across another problem that they were not prepared for. The inner drum had cracked. When the weld in the bearing support failed, the drum had come into contact with the outer drum at 900 RPM (the metal on metal sound everyone heard) and caused it to fail as well. They had to replace the bearing, the bearing support, and the inner drum. A few months before that, the other washer got a new bearing and a new motor.


The lesson learned here according to management was: stuff the shit out of them now that they are fixed and we'll buy rigid mount washers next.


**sigh** Oh well, I've got one more year at school and then hopefully I'll be done there for good!


Here are some pics of the machine that failed:

Post# 616831 , Reply# 1   8/13/2012 at 17:18 (3,767 days old) by Pulsator (Saint Joseph, MI)        

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With the front panels removed:

Post# 616833 , Reply# 2   8/13/2012 at 17:18 (3,767 days old) by Pulsator (Saint Joseph, MI)        

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The red bearing support. That's one of the things that failed and was welded back together.

Post# 616847 , Reply# 3   8/13/2012 at 19:18 (3,767 days old) by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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Unfortunate.....but if management told you to pack that machine out.....THAT's exactly what I would have done.....

a quicker way to a new/bigger/better machine.....let it self destruct.....I would not have shut it down.....not my problem!

it's not warned them, and they ignored the problem.....

as an airflight attendant would say...."Not my Isle!"

Post# 616848 , Reply# 4   8/13/2012 at 19:30 (3,767 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
FL Washer Max Capacity

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I have always said that you can pack good quality FL washers full of DRY items, but nothing should be added after the items are wet, doing so is just plain stupid and the washers are not designed to be used this way. If you think that you won't get fired I would send a note to the company that is maintaining the washers and let them know how they are being used it is not fair to the service company or the manufacturer, a bearing support should not break in the life of the washer.

Post# 616849 , Reply# 5   8/13/2012 at 19:35 (3,767 days old) by appnut (TX)        

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Jezz, that' beyond "BobLoad".  I don't think there's a term that extremne abuse.  You can explain to them what a BobLoad is and tell them the expert said they damn well deserved what they get.  Inexcuseable, poor managemednt.  I bet theyu wouldn't let any of their weight equipment feceive equivalent tyhpe of abuse.  A mechanical piece of equipment shouldn't either.  B*tches and b*astardsd.  Hell, Iw ouldn't want one of thjose reeking towels touching myh body.  I shuydder at the description.  Start the machine, let it get wetted down, add more, let that get wetted down, and add more.  Had a friend of mine do that to their used 1969 Kenmore 4009 and when that was replaced with a 1992 Maytag with the new Orbital Transmission with the fast stroke, she continued to do it.  I don't EVER challenge a machine near to that extent.  I know when to make it do it's maximum but not abuse.  Now I'll get off my soap box.  I'm sorry Jamie you had to put up with such imbisclel.  They should have appreciated having a laundry exprt in their midst. 

Post# 616871 , Reply# 6   8/13/2012 at 22:37 (3,767 days old) by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        

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Speaking of dirty laundry I probably would have soiled myself if I'd been in that room. Surely this is a stereotype and not true in EVERY case, but management as a class is becoming hazardously inbred. They're there because they know someONE, not because they know someTHING.

Post# 616882 , Reply# 7   8/13/2012 at 23:11 (3,767 days old) by neptunebob (Pittsburgh, PA)        

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If they get hard mount machines and do the same practices, won't it start to shake the building apart? Or is management trying to get a new building too?

If you know any of the members outside of work, you might mention to them what is going on with the towels (again, at a place outside of work) and maybe some of them will complain about the odor. Then again, a lot of businesses just view customers as a nuisance and would ignore that they want clean towels.

Post# 616917 , Reply# 8   8/14/2012 at 02:37 (3,766 days old) by qualin (Canada)        

Do exactly what the management tells you to do. To the letter. In fact, make sure that they put the washing procedure on the wall where everyone can see it. When the washer breaks and the repairperson is over, strike up a natural conversation with the repair guy and show him how you do a load.

When the repair guy freaks out, he'll have a word with the management.

It makes me wonder if you could have been fired for just letting the washer self-destruct. It would have made for an awesome youtube video.

IMHO, it sounds to me like they need to put in larger bolt down machines, but need some kind of a business justification to do so.

Personally, I probably would have been a butthead and brought in the manager while the machine was dying and said, "HEY! IS THAT METAL ON METAL NOISE NORMAL FOR A MACHINE LIKE THAT!?!?!?"

Heh.. I'm surprised those machines lasted for as long as they did. It's a shame that they weren't proactive in buying new machines, or at least giving the staff firm directions as to load the machines.

Get EVERYTHING in writing and have them post it on the wall!

Were there space constraints which would prevent them from installing larger machines? I mean, you can buy machines upwards of 250 lbs...

Post# 616945 , Reply# 9   8/14/2012 at 07:51 (3,766 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
Hard Mount Commerical Washers

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Would be even more likely damaged by this type of abuse, a 75# washer is not designed to tumble or spin a 1000#s of laundry.

Post# 616962 , Reply# 10   8/14/2012 at 08:37 (3,766 days old) by Pulsator (Saint Joseph, MI)        

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Management certainly has no clue how the laundry works. There was a period when I first started this job about 4 years ago that management thought we were stealing the detergent and bleach because it was being used up so rapidly. They installed a security camera in the laundry room only to discover that we just wash a lot of towels. Undecided


The laundry room is very very small and it's surprising that they got the machines they did to fit and of course, the laundry room is at the core of the fitness center allowing no room for expansion without shrinking other rooms. It's interesting to watch a manager who clearly has no clue when you personally know a lot. If you know them well enough, you can point them in the right direction. Here's where I pointed:


The fitness center has a little pro-shop that sells over priced shirts, shorts, water bottles, etc that gets almost NO business whatsoever. The fitness center does give a LOT of massages (there are wait lists) and we only have 2 massage rooms. One of the massage rooms shares a wall with the laundry room. (I really wanna slap the architect for that one.) My thinking is turn the pro-shop into more massage rooms and knock down the wall between the laundry room and the one massage room and expand it into there. They would be able to not only add a washer and dryer but upgrade to 100lb capacity washers and 170lb capacity dryers. My manager kind shrugged the idea off saying it would be too pricey but now the current buzz among the staff is that they are planning on doing that sometime in the next couple of years... Well, at least I could help.



BTW, yes, management did tell us to stuff the washers multiple times, it's how every new employee is trained. They even showed us the trick to get the washer to display the water level so we could stop it before it injected the first round of chemicals. (If we miss it and it injects, stopping the machine will not only dump the chemicals, but it also will not re-inject the chemicals until the rest of the chemicals have been injected.) What's more they do actually acknowledge that they told us to over stuff them which is good.

Post# 616969 , Reply# 11   8/14/2012 at 08:45 (3,766 days old) by miele4life (Reading, UK )        

those poor washers, no wonder they went wrong the way they've been used, sounds like management is flawed in the place and couldn't give a damn about the machines breaking. I hope they get replaced pretty soon, I wouldn't want that 2 happen 2 me if I was working there lol :)

Post# 616972 , Reply# 12   8/14/2012 at 09:05 (3,766 days old) by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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Your lucky management agreed that they told you to stuff the machines.....otherwise, you might be liable to an extent, since its not in writing, and not part of rules and regulations of that establishment, and they could deny telling you this....It's happened all too often.....

if anything...I would call in the Board of Health......this place must be inspected in order to open.....for the most part, all they see is a laundry area.....a little bird could tell them about the "lack of proper washing" of said towels.....if a fungus/infection breakout ever occurred, possibility of being shut down could happen.....

Post# 616992 , Reply# 13   8/14/2012 at 10:29 (3,766 days old) by whirlcool (Just North Of Houston, Texas)        

At the animal shelter we have the hard mount version of this washer. When we first got them they washed the bedding/toweling for the animals perfectly. They'd come out nice and fluffy. For the size of the shelter, they were the perfect size. In 6 hours you could wash everything that was turned in for washing.

Then the shelter started using teen age girls to do the laundry. These were 15-16 year old girls who were volunteers. They'd pack those machines so full the middle towels sometimes wouldn't get wet. They'd also just dump cup after cup of detergent into the machines. Actually they'd throw it, the tops of both machines were covered with detergent powder. They never bothered to wipe them off.

But I'd get my revenge....

If I caught any of them doing this I'd tell them the correct way to do the laundry.
And I warned them I am only telling them once. At this point if I heard even one "Whatever!" out of them they were immediately sent to the animal "sick ward" to perform kennel cleaning duties that day.

If I caught them abusing the equipment again they were permanently banished to the animal sick ward until they quit. Most of them did. BUT some of them were working at the kennel as "community service" workers. So if they didn't do a spotless job cleaning those kennels I'd send a note to the judge who sent them there that they have "an attitude" problem. Usually they came back with a whole new attitude or I'd never see them again. They might be on the highway picking up trash out of drainage ditches.

I later became involved in working assignments outside of the kennel. Last week I went in there after not having visited for about 6 months. The laundry room was a total disaster. I just kind of did the eye roll and left.

Post# 617006 , Reply# 14   8/14/2012 at 12:12 (3,766 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Allen, I know what you mean. Several times a week some jerk gets on the Metro with music playing from their phone. There is a rule that you have to use earphones for any device that makes noise, but phones are not so equipped. I used to get angry, but now I just think that because they do not obey rules, they are in for a lifetime of hell; not being able to hold jobs, not being able to stay our of trouble with the law and not amounting to shit or being able to have anything worth while for long. So I let them enjoy their rule breaking, knowing it is the most they will get out of life. Same for the girls "working" in the shelter until they wind up in juvie, a homeless shelter, prison or the grave, all forms of waste management.

The health department should mandate locking doors on washers processing laundry where cross contamination is a danger. All it would take is one good case of flesh-eating staph to get started there and they could be sued until they have nothing to sit on and I'm not talking furniture. Turtleback dishwashers locked at the beginning of the cycle so that a rack could not be pulled through before the 180F rinse.

Post# 618102 , Reply# 15   8/18/2012 at 14:07 (3,762 days old) by Jetcone (Schenectady-Home of Calrods,Monitor Tops,Toroid Transformers)        
Those support members look to be

jetcone's profile picture
cast iron for heavens sake! Thats just plain stupid abuse!

What washer drama though!

Can you imagine if the tub sawed through the machine & zipped across the floor with 200 pounds of wet towels stuffed inside?? It probably crash through an outside wall!!

Post# 618108 , Reply# 16   8/18/2012 at 14:58 (3,762 days old) by whirlykenmore78 (Prior Lake MN (GMT-0600-CST.))        
Idiot Cheapass Bosses are everywhere.

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They all have the same mentality of lets abuse and overload equipment to save time and money. This is a classic case of having both excellent machines and chemicals but misusing them.
I worked for a restaurant where the owner was so cheap that he insisted on not spraying dishes at all. His solution was to use a few inches of water in a small sink to prewash to save water. Of course he made the kitchen staff overload the DW racks and changing water in the DW more than once a day would get you killed. Needless to say even though we had a very good Hobart Machine the dishware did not look good.

Post# 618255 , Reply# 17   8/19/2012 at 00:44 (3,762 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

Imagine if someone was in the way of that spinning 200Lb drum!!And the metal on metal-surprized sparks weren't made there and a fire resulted.Geez a UniMac spin welder!!!Caterpillar makes spin welders.Would be neat to see it work!!!

Post# 619026 , Reply# 18   8/21/2012 at 17:58 (3,759 days old) by revvinkevin (Tinseltown - Shakey Town - La-La Land)        

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Wow Jamie, that is a pretty scary, yet at the same time, very sad story.   Thank your for all the detail!


I know those machines can handle being stuffed really full of DRY clothes, towels, etc.   But to stop it after everything is wet and stuff even MORE into it repeatedly.... that is pure insanity and stupidity.   I'm surprised the service techs that came out to do the repair didn't say anything.   It would be obvious to me the washers were being overloaded and abused just because of the type of failure.   But then again, maybe this type of abuse is something they see regularly?


About 24 years ago I worked at a dry cleaner which also had a shirt laundry.  They had a 50# hard mount Unimac and the first time I loaded the machine with shirts I was told to "keep stuffing" when I thought it was full.   However once everything was wet, the "clothes level" was about half way in the window, right were it should be.


Hey maybe one suggestion would be to phase out the full size bath towels, replacing them with a slight smaller (1/4 - 1/3 smaller?) towel?   That would allow more towels per load.   But at the same time that could cause another issue of a non standard size towel that's not readily available?   Eh, it was a thought.





Post# 619061 , Reply# 19   8/21/2012 at 21:02 (3,759 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, Thereīs a Lady on Stage)        
Gym, Healthclub, Spa Users

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Tend to notice and or can be picky about towels. Personally given all the noise about MRSA and whatever being found all over such places bring my own towels from home. I mean you never know where their's have been do you? Nor do I trust the laundering methods of some places. Happy pour moi Manhattan being a compact city it tis possible to simply go home and shower there afterwards. Many who use the showers at gyms and such are either working out on their lunch break and or have some place to go after.

It is not rocket science to determine the type and amount of laundry equipent required for any commercial use, from small business to large. There are armies of consultants and designers who can be employed to design, build and fit out laundries to suit a particular place's needs. Also most every commercial laundry equipment maker has a salesforce that will work with buyers to get them what they need currently and make sure it is sized to grow with their business.

This spa did things on the cheap and didn't want to spend the money for a proper laundry operation.

All commercial ventures that use linens, from hotels to restaurants to spas and so forth must do the sums as to how much stock they must have for daily use. These calcuations will take into account what is sent to the wash and the turn around time that process entails.

Just as with households if a place wants to ensure a steady supply of linens whilst delaying wash days the only choice is to have a vast enough stock to allow this. Of course that will mean also having huge laundry bills or costs as all that linen must be processed.

Jamie's place could have simply purchased more than enough towels to last say from opening until closing or if open very late until a certain period of the day. Then the second part is to ramp up the laundry staff so they are working until the job (all linens in house are clean and stocked for use). This could mean running a evening or overnight shift to process all that linen. OTOH the reverse could also apply; hire dedicated laundry staff that works from early morning until the last of the soiled linen is processed daily in order to assure a steady supply of clean towels.

Places that send their linen out run into the problem of having too little or even no stock on hand if delivery is delayed and or someone didn't notice stock was running low and kept giving out fresh linen until the cupboard was bare.

Spas and such can be very wasteful with linen. Because they are "free" many customers will take a new fresh clean towel after each machine, class or simply because the wiped their face once and now the thing is *dirty*. Am willing to bet they don't pull such stunts at home, especially married men whose wives must deal with all that wash.

Post# 1084404 , Reply# 20   8/8/2020 at 22:32 (850 days old) by GELaundry4ever (Killeen tx USA)        
washer use

If I were management, I'd observe what the users of the machines were doing. I'd stick my hand in the machine prior to starting it just to make sure that the towel load is no more than 3/4 up the window for maximum cleanliness along with the correct additives, fabric selections and temps. Just saying.

Post# 1084520 , Reply# 21   8/9/2020 at 21:19 (849 days old) by GELaundry4ever (Killeen tx USA)        
I'd rather risk getting fired

doing it properly than stuffing the machines to the brim to where they can't move. Now I understand why common sense gets blown out the water and out the window! Now to get off my soap box. Before I do, now I get why careless users treat these machines they do. They should know better than that.

Post# 1155181 , Reply# 22   7/25/2022 at 12:39 by GELaundry4ever (Killeen tx USA)        
thread revival

Please excuse me for the thread revival, but this trend still continues. If I had to risk my job just to do it the right way regardless of how long it takes, then so be it. If customers want things done properly, then I will do the best I can to do it properly while playing by the rules.

Post# 1155190 , Reply# 23   7/25/2022 at 15:04 by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        

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Domestic, commercial, and industrial washers are NOT meant to be overloaded PERIOD! They are only designed to take an X amount of laundry and if you exceed that limit then you will have bearing problems or will have things not coming out cleaned etc.

If I made laundry appliances and they got damaged from stupidity such as careless people and careless management, I wouldnít even honor the warranty or simply would void the warranty all together. Heck, I wouldnít even allow techs and personnel to touch a machine that was used improperly such as the one in this thread since the same repairs literally had to be made multiple times since management apparently doesnít know how to use laundry appliances properly or know how things work for that matter.

Since Iíve been doing my own laundry since 2015 (2015 was the year when I got into vintage automatic washers), I never have overloaded any of the machines Iíve used and owned since things will not only get cleaned properly but puts more wear and tear on the machine as well. Iíve never had any issues with things not coming out cleaned in the 7 years Iíve been doing laundry. I usually tend to under-load the machine slightly just to be sure everything gets washed and rinsed properly.

Post# 1155380 , Reply# 24   7/28/2022 at 07:45 by GELaundry4ever (Killeen tx USA)        
the sad part

The sad part is that most people will not give a damn about how they load their machines. Most people will just stuff the machine and use cold water. I don't blame you. They just want bigger machines just so they can cram everything in. I always sort my laundry, no exceptions.

Post# 1161683 , Reply# 25   10/13/2022 at 10:48 by GELaundry4ever (Killeen tx USA)        
lazy people doing laundry

Unfortunately, most people are lazy when it comes to doing laundry. Nothing has seemed to change. They will still lazily stuff the machines and assume they'll (clothes) come clean. I have seen this firsthand still.

Post# 1161723 , Reply# 26   10/14/2022 at 06:07 by PinkPower4 (USA)        
I sort too, but...

now I have to use more water, additives, detergent, and hot water to wash because even the two of the best top loads today only have half tub or full tub fill. There are times I just need a small load. It is the one reason I've kept the Magic Chef portable and will probably buy another portable when it no longer works.

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