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Bosch Exxcel WVD2452BGB /04 Washer-Dryer Suspected Failing Drum Bearings


Rollcage

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Hi,

In the past couple of weeks, I've noticed that my 7 year-old 5kg Bosch washer-dryer makes a rumbling noise when the drum is slowly turning during its wash and drying cycles. I don't really hear the noise when the machine is going through its high-speed spin cycle (maybe it's drowned out by the high-speed spinning noise itself), but I definitely notice it on lower speeds - particularly during the intenstive dry programme where the drum turns at a lower rpm. It sounds like a low rumble - as if someone is rolling a metal barrel down a concrete pavement. I can live with the noise - but the fact that it has appeared worries me. I've checked the drum when it's empty and it moves quite freely and as I spin it, there is a low grating noise - ie it is not smooth. There is also a few centimetres of travel when I move the drum back and forth.  From the research I've done online today, I've come to the conclusion that these symptoms are the signs of failing drum bearings.

I've recently spent £200 on the machine to get the drain pump unit completely replaced by an engineer. Everything else on the machine works well. I've looked into how drum bearings are replaced and it seems like a mammoth,time-consuming task that literally requires taking the entire machine apart. I am not a technical person, so the job would require me to call upon my engineer @ £100 p/h for the first hour and then charged in 15 minute increments,plus parts and VAT. Considering the scale of the task and cost of parts, it will certainly cost me more than replacing the drain pump. It should also be noted that my (worn bearings) diagnosis is based on guesswork and matching symptoms with what I have read online. I haven't had it confirmed by a professional.

So I have the following questions:

1. Is it worth replacing the drum bearings considering the age of machine, complexity and risk of encountering further problems during the work or would I be better off buying a new machine?

2.Is it safe to just live with the problem until the machine gives up completely? The noise at the moment is tolerable and the machine doesn't have any other problems, but I am worried the drum will explode and blast out of the machine during the final spin cycle.

3. If the answer to question 2 is yes, how many more months can I expect to squeeze out of a machine with failing bearings and what can I do to slow down the rate of failure? Limescale removal tablets? (I've never used them before on this machine) Dropping the final-spin speed? It's a 1200 spin machine and I've always dropped the final spin speed to 1100 rpm.

4.What will happen when it finally gives up? Will it just cut out mid-cycle or refuse to start?

5.If I am better off buying a new machine, do I really need a washer-dryer? I live on my own, use the machine around three times a week and only throw in about 7-8 items of clothing. Have modern machines become so efficient that a dryer is pointless for small loads?

 

Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks

 

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  • Root Admin

Hello there. If the drum is rumbling on the slow wash action it should be extremely noisy on spin. Unless the motor itself was extremely noisy it should be worse on spin than it is on wash. Therefore I would initially be suspicious that it wasn't the drum bearings. When you turn the drum by hand, or when the drum itself is turning there are 3 things in play. There is the drum and its bearings, the motor, and the drive belt. Either 3 could be causing the noise. Therefore when suspecting drum bearings the first thing you need to do is to disconnect the drive belt and make sure it is not going to catch on the drum pulley. Then go to the front of the machine open the door and spin the drum by hand. If the noise is present this proves it is caused by something in the drum or the drum bearings. If you don't disconnect the belt you are always spinning the motor the drum and the belt.

Believe it or not I once spun the drum by hand and it felt and sounded 100% like the drum bearings. I quoted the customer for the drum bearings but when I started to repair the washing machine I realised that the horrible rumbling noise was coming from the motor bearings. I also even once went out to finish a job that another engineer had ordered parts for. He had also spun the drum by hand and diagnosed drum bearings. He'd ordered up a complete drum assembly and I was later sent to fit it. As soon as I took the back panel off I could see that the drive belt was very badly damaged. The rumbling noise that had caused the other engineer to believe it was drum bearings was caused by that drive belt.

Having said all that if it is the drum bearings then it is unusual for it not to be rumbling louder on spin. It will of course eventually reach that stage. Unfortunately many if not most modern washing machines have sealed outer drums. If yours has one then it would be extremely expensive to fit a new outer drum complete with the inner drum and bearings.

Regarding the £200 for having a pump replaced. That is a hell of a lot of money for just replacing a pump. It's no wonder people aren't having repairs done these days. Sadly the average lifespan of the modern washing machine is only quoted at 7 years at the moment. However, that is an average so many should last 10 years or more. The washing machine should work fine for potentially many more months until it eventually became extremely noisy. It wouldn't be wise to run one until it virtually collapsed but they can often rumble on for quite a long time. Apart from anything you wouldn't want to wait for it to suddenly randomly collapse at potentially an extremely inconvenient time. Once drum bearings became remarkably noisy it is time to replace it. The only thing that could possibly slow down the ultimate demise would be using it less (washing proper full loads instead of small ones) and reducing the final spin speed.

Regarding your last question this article may help a little although it is mostly aimed at someone who is trying to decide whether to buy a separate tumble dryer or a washer dryer combined 

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7 hours ago, Whitegoodshelp (Andy) said:

Hello there...

Hello Andy,

Thank you for the detailed response. I'm due to run the washing machine again tomorrow, so I'll pay closer attention to the sound when it is spinning at higher speeds. I definitely notice it at lower speeds. It's a low rumble that is tolerable (noise-wise) for the moment. The fact you suggest that the noise could be several things puts me in a bit of a dilemma. I can't physical move the machine and flip the back casing off myself to rule out the drive belt, so I'd have to get an engineer to do it. Up until this point, I've just assumed it's definitely the drum bearings, but this new information throws everything up in the air. Are there any other symptoms to look out for that would identifying a failing drive belt or motor unit failure easier? The machine runs through and completes its washing and drying programmes without any problems - things spin up and spin down with no issues. It's just this low rumble noise that has emerged...

If it could be one of several problems then that makes me wonder whether it is worth spending more money on it. If it's indeed the drive belt, it'll cost me close to another £200 to professionally replace. If it's the drum bearings then it'll be a few hundred at least, and if it's the motor I expect it to be a few hundred more. Either way I'm going to end parting with another £200 minimum. I'm on a low income and I don't know whether it's wiser and cheaper to use the machine until it gives up and then buy an average washing machine. But if I do that I'll lose the ability to dry clothes since I can't afford a new washer-dryer again. I just have a feeling it's at an age now where it'll be one thing failing after an other. What do you think? (It's a seven-year-old machine that wasn't well maintained for most of its working life). I'll also be taking a gamble on determining what's wrong and ordering parts since I can't get an engineer to simply look at it and tell me what's wrong.

I agree that the pump replacement was an expensive fix. The only reason I went ahead with it was because I wanted to keep my "Bosch" - I was sure it wouldn't give me any further problems for a couple more years at least (and it was cheaper than buying a new machine). It seems I was wrong. If I part with another minimum £200 that will be £400 spent on one machine. In regard to slowing down the rate of failure, I already reduce the final spin speed to 1100 rpm before starting the wash programme -  I've never run the machine at the maximum 1200rpm. Will it be worth dropping it further to 1000rpm? I have also cut back on usage and use it around 3 times a week. The machine used to serve a family of four, but it now just serves one person, so I suppose that can only help things. Thank you for the washer-dryer link - I will have a read.

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I don't know why it cost so much to have it repaired but yes at those prices I would definitely not be investing that much money in a Bosch washing machine. Unless you bought one of the top end models it shouldn't be worth spending all that money. You can buy a brand-new Bosch washing machine for less than £300 - Bosch WAB28161GB Freestanding Washing Machine, 6kg Load, A+++ Energy Rating, 1400rpm Spin, White  (affiliate link) with a two-year guarantee. That's just a washing machine of course not a washer dryer but if you aren't using the dryer cycle there's not a lot of point having one.

I think it's unlikely to be the drive belt. I've had it before as I described but it is quite rare. Have a listen to what noisy drum bearings normally sound like it might help.

Bosch are quite unusual in that they seem to be selling the same brand washing machines at vastly different prices. They do a budget priced machine and at the same time sell the same brand at £800. The normal convention is to have different brands to cover the different price ranges. Bosch used to use their Neff brand for the high-end models. I don't know how expensive your Bosch is but obviously if it was quite expensive then the budget end Bosch may be of lower quality. However I'm not convinced that the £800 Bosch machines are of sufficient higher quality to justify being almost 3 times as expensive.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Whitegoodshelp (Andy) said:

I don't know why it cost so much to have it repaired but yes at those prices I would definitely not be investing that much money in a Bosch washing machine. Unless you bought one of the top end models it shouldn't be worth spending all that money. You can buy a brand-new Bosch washing machine for less than £300 - Bosch WAB28161GB Freestanding Washing Machine, 6kg Load, A+++ Energy Rating, 1400rpm Spin, White  (affiliate link) with a two-year guarantee. That's just a washing machine of course not a washer dryer but if you aren't using the dryer cycle there's not a lot of point having one.

I think it's unlikely to be the drive belt. I've had it before as I described but it is quite rare. Have a listen to what noisy drum bearings normally sound like it might help.

Hello Andy,

Thanks for the suggestions and the washing machine link. Well, today I put my machine through its wash cycle and decided to stay nearby for the entire cycle, so that I could hear what things sounded like. I no longer think the rumbling sound is confined to the lower spin speeds as I originally stated. When the machine went through its final spin at the end of the cycle, the sound was ridiculously loud - almost like an aeroplane taking off. I've never really been close to the machine during the final spin cycle, so I didn't really notice how loud it was until today. It was quite a shock.

I've also tried lifting the drum vertically, this time, by its lip and there isn't much travel as I've seen in some videos I looked at today. I was incorrectly moving the drum horizontally by the lip. There is a bit of movement but not the really loose kind that is symptomatic of failing bearings.

I think I need to find a way to get the machine out and the back casing off just to inspect the drive belt. I don't want to bin the machine if all it needs is a new 20 quid belt since everything else on it works well. Just to clarify, are you sure that a rumbling noise while in operation is most likely down to one of three components: drum bearings, drive belt, or motor bearings? Is there a chance it could also be the big pulley wheel behind the drum itself?

If I do manage to get the panel off and remove the drive belt and then spin the drum by hand (as you suggested in your earlier post) and the grating noise is no longer present does that mean the rumbling is definitely down to a worn drive belt?

I just have a feeling it might be the belt because the drum basket itself doesn't feel loose when move it around. I guess I've just got to find a way to inspect it.

Also I have a question in regard to modern machines. My current machine calculates the wash time based on the load, so even though the wash programme takes 1hr 25 minutes, it usually recalcuates and reduces the time to 1hr 5 minutes. I was just wondering do modern machines do this too? I ask because I've noticed that newer machines have ridiculously long wash times (200 minutes upwards). Does this mean that a modern machine will take over two hours to wash even a small load? The long wash time that newer machines have is also part of the reason why I'm trying to hold on to my current machine.

By the way, I purchased my Bosch washer-dryer for £500 in 2010. I'm not sure whether that makes it a premium product.

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To be honest I've only ever seen the drive belt cause the one drum bearing sound several times and the last time was many years ago. I think it was when belts were made more of rubber. I'm pretty sure these days the belts are made differently so I think it's very unlikely to be the belt. I did mention it because it was a good example of how it's possible to be misled if you don't check things thoroughly. If the belt was taken off and the noise disappeared you have eliminated the drum but the belt and the motor would still be suspects. Due to the rarity of the belt causing this kind of noise the main suspect would be the motor. However these days it's not necessarily an awful lot cheaper to replace the motor and it is to replace the drum.

The play in drum bearings and the shaft only happens at later stages of wear. It could be many months before that happened. Modern washing machine will definitely take longer to wash. As you say they all take about 2 hours for the cottons 40° wash. This is due to them using much less water and trying to use less energy.

Regarding price I think a modern Bosch washer dryer will be at our similar price to what you paid in 2010. Possibly a bit more. They are likely to be slightly less well-made but I wouldn't expect significantly. The chances are they should be cheaper to run and use less water but the price we pay for that is that they take longer to wash. Theoretically it shouldn't really make that much difference, we are not stood waiting for them. But the sad irony is that making them wash for nearly twice as long in order to save money is likely to wear them out in half the time. False economy in my opinion.

 

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On 12/05/2017 at 11:06, Whitegoodshelp (Andy) said:

To be honest I've only ever seen the drive belt cause the one drum bearing sound several times and the last time was many years ago....

Hello Andy,

I think you're absolutely right in regard to the noise being related to the drum bearings and not the belt. I've spoken to a few other people over the past few days, and they also agree that it is the drum bearings. I think my fixation on the drive belt (or the possibility of a more minor issue) is wishful thinking on my part. I'm one of those people who finds it hard to accept that an appliance is on its last legs - especially one that I've recently spent £200 on. I also wanted to avoid getting a new machine because of the longer washing times and lower water consumption. But it seems I will have just to pick up a new machine. I'm going to try to eke out a few a more months from my current machine while I save up for an entry level Bosch washing machine - similar to the one you suggested earlier - as I don't think I will able to afford a washer-dryer.

I've lowered the final spin speed to from my usual 1100rpm setting to 800rpm in an attempt to slow the rate of degradation, although it still sounds like a possessed concrete mixer even on 800rpm. I just hope it doesn't end up being a safety hazard or exploding ie. if it were to fail while in operation then it fails gracefully rather than violently. I still can't believe modern machines take that long to wash a load. I've also heard that clothes (in newer machines) aren't satisfyingly soaked like they are in older machines, because of the lower amounts of water used. It sounds absurd, but I guess I'll just have to get used to it...Thanks for all your advice so far in this thread.

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I think the only thing people should agree on is that it is most likely to be the drum bearings. To be honest anyone saying that a rumbling noise when turning the drum is definitely the drum bearings must be unaware of the possibility that motor bearings can also become worn and noisy or dry. Essentially the bearings in the motor and the bearings in the drum are exactly the same. They differ only in size. As motor bearings are smaller they tend to make higher pitched noise but I have definitely known many motor bearings that have developed a rough rumbling noise in the past. Having said all that, I think it is safe to say that if you turn the drum by hand and it makes a low rumbling noise that 99.9% of the time it will be the drum bearings. A good engineer never assumes though and always bears in mind rare possibilities that need eliminating before deciding what is wrong.

Lowering the final spin to 800 stands a very good chance of eaking out the machine a bit longer. Obviously all the time it is spinning it is wearing slightly more. So the faster it spins the more wear will occur. 

Modern washing machines use very little water but they should still be saturated if loaded correctly and on the correct cycle. Modern washing machines use a mixture of drum paddles that scoop up water and sprinkle it over the washing all the time the drum is revolving. Many of them also have a recirculation pump that constantly showers the laundry on wash. Arguably the old-fashioned way of soaking them in a bath of water is best. But they've been doing it like this for the last fifteen years or so and washing machines clearly still wash laundry perfectly adequately for most people.

 

 

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On 16/05/2017 at 09:40, Whitegoodshelp (Andy) said:

I think the only thing people should agree on is that it is most likely to be the drum bearings...

Hello Andy,

I must admit that the few people I asked weren't professional washing-machine engineers. But I'm leaning towards it being the drum bearings based on everything I have heard and read. I have since reduced the speed down to 700 and reduced the number of items I throw in per wash to compensate for the reduced final spin speed. Hopefully I'll be able to drag a few more months out of it at least.

The info you posted about how modern washers worker is reassuring. I've not had any experiences with newer "energy efficient" machines as my current Bosch is only the second washer-dryer I've owned in my lifetime (first one lasted for 18 years).  Thanks again for all the helpful information.

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