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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    4

    Unhappy clothes washer backup!

    Hello all,
    New to the forum, long time watcher and subscriber to Ask This Old House.

    My family and I live in a 1950's ranch style single story house. For a while now we've had an intermittent problem with water and suds coming up from the drain through which our washer runs. This normally happens when a load of laundry is run on hot. We have tried reducing the amount of soap we use and also using the low suds soap type with no help. Just yesterday my wife called me at work and said that there was water all over the floor and over to the door (which is about 6 feet away from the drain). This worries us as our washer and dryer are in our mechanical room which also contains our new water heater (gas) and our furnace and we do not want them to to get damaged by water.
    We have also had a couple of different plumbers out and they have snaked out the drain and they never find anything in it.
    Any suggestions short of jack-hammering the floor and changing the size of the drain?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: clothes washer backup!

    Before you receive posts about newer washers supposedly pumping out more volumes of water quicker -- we need to know where the washer is draining to.
    Is there a stand pipe with a trap and is vented --- or is it draining into a floor drain ?
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: clothes washer backup!

    The washer is draining to a pipe that is inside the wall where the hot and cold turnoffs are located as well and then we can see the water running through an open drain in the floor where the overflow(?) for the furnace and water heater are running too.
    On some previous advice I have tried running our garden hose at full blast down this open drain and have never had water back up that way.
    So without opening up the wall I'm not sure how I can tell if it is vented or not.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: clothes washer backup!

    Quote Originally Posted by carbfrze View Post
    The washer is draining to a pipe that is inside the wall where the hot and cold turnoffs are located as well and then we can see the water running through an open drain in the floor where the overflow(?) for the furnace and water heater are running too.
    On some previous advice I have tried running our garden hose at full blast down this open drain and have never had water back up that way.
    So without opening up the wall I'm not sure how I can tell if it is vented or not.
    Based on your description and sight unseen ----Sounds to me that's incorrect and likely why you are having this problem.
    The floor drain is a branch that is connected to the main house drain. The washer's stand pipe should also be a seperate branch line. Instead it seems to be connected upstream of the floor drain which is not allowed and depending on the actual method of connection -- like a "T" instead of a "Wye" could be the cause .
    This also raises a flag there may not be a P trap for the stand pipe and probably not vented.

    Looks as though things will have to be opened up to investigate further and for any corrections.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: clothes washer backup!

    Is there any kind of temp. fix that I can try? My wife just lost her job about two months ago and we are really tight on cash. I've also heard of different grants that the government will provide for home improvements but I don't know if this would be covered or not.
    Any suggestions?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: clothes washer backup!

    You might try running the washer drain hose to the floor drain and let it discharge there and capping off the standpipe. While this is not ideal it may be a temporary solution .
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    boston,ma
    Posts
    114

    Wink Re: clothes washer backup!

    You could also try a rubber fernco fitting on top of the standpipe for the washer, this way nothing can back up out of the drain, just make sure of the sizes of the washer connection and the standpipe connection, they sell them at home depot, lowes, for about $7 this worked for me and it has been fine for last 8 years. if you have any back up after that then I would consult a plumber about your options! Good Luck!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,481

    Default Re: clothes washer backup!

    What is the height of the stand pipe in relation to the top of the washer? The stand pipe is where your washer hose is inserted and it should be at or above the height of the washer. I agree with Canuk that your problem could be indicative of an improperly plumbed system, only exploratory surgery will ferret that out, but you don't have to go all Chuck Norris on it. You can carefully cut the drywall out of the stud bay that the supply and discharge lines are in. If you are careful about it, you may be able to save the piece you remove and reuse it.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
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    1,168

    Default Re: clothes washer backup!

    Quote Originally Posted by jled96 View Post
    You could also try a rubber fernco fitting on top of the standpipe for the washer, this way nothing can back up out of the drain, just make sure of the sizes of the washer connection and the standpipe connection, they sell them at home depot, lowes, for about $7 this worked for me and it has been fine for last 8 years. if you have any back up after that then I would consult a plumber about your options! Good Luck!
    There are two problems with your fix.
    1-It's against code.
    2-The reason it's against code is if you have a main line stoppage sewerage could enter the clothes washer. That is why there piped with a indirect waste.

    John

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    boston,ma
    Posts
    114

    Wink Re: clothes washer backup!

    Yes john I agree that this is not a proper code repair, and having dealt with this issue personaly after I had my discharge hose ejected from the standpipe on a few occasions, this was my response was in relation to the poster being in a difficult situation and not having the funds to repair permenantly at this time. If it was to be a proper repair I too would reccommend it be re-plumbed in the proper fashion. I have been in many homes where there are worse drainage issues than a fernco coupler on top of a standpipe, and again this was only recommeneded for a temporary fix. Good Luck!

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