The plumbing in washing machines are usually pretty routine. But for an existing washing machine it’s often incorrect. In this post we’ll discuss the plumbing components related to your washing machines.
Washing machines water shutoffs
The water shutoffs are what I work with most. Often when someone moves they find that the water shutoffs not only leak at the spout but they leak at the pack nut. While the pack nut can be easily tightened a leaking spout usually means replacement. You don’t want to try and repair a thirty or fourty year old valve. It’s a waste of time.
Types of shutoffs on washing machines
This may seem silly but the type of water shutoffs is really important. An
older style multi-turn valve is fine and can be repaired easily over the years. And a single lever valve that operates both the hot and cold at the same time may seem convenient. But that valve can also leak between the hot and cold and create a cross connection. (This is the first place I look whenever I have a plumbing customer with intermittent cold water in the hot side.) But individual quarter turn water shutoffs are what I prefer. They are easy to use and rarely leak.
Hoses for washing machines
Standard rubber washing machine hoses are suppose to be replaced every three to five years. And if you have excessive water pressure, even more often. And these normally come stock with the machines. But manufacturers are transitioning to heavy duty plastic. I haven’t heard too many issues with these so far. But my favorite washer hoses are stainless steel. They just don’t break. And you can reuse them. But you may need to replace the washers each time.
Washing machines inlet screens
I’m not trying to be overly inclusive but the screens in the washer water connections are too
important to overlook. A plumbing customer complaining about not having enough hot water flow in their washing machine is almost always a build up in the screens. Since water gets debris in it, the screens need to be regularly cleaned. And not just on the hot side. The cold water side gets clogged too.
Washing machines drain
The washing machine drain isn’t just a piece of pipe. It needs to be 2 inch pipe. Older homes may
have an 1-1/2″ drain pipe. But the pumps were smaller back then. It needs to have a p-trap between 6 and 18 inches above the floor if it’s a relatively new home. In older homes it may be in the basement floor. But you must have a p-trap. Otherwise, you’ll have sewer gas in your home. And you want the top of the washer standpipe to be level with the top of the overflow of the machine. If it’s shorter it can overflow with just a little bit of a flow restriction. If it’s too high the pump is being overworked. It won’t last as long.
Washing machines discharge hose
This is more an appliance thing than a plumbing thing. But sometimes the lines can be blurred. Plumbers will sometimes get calls about a water leak by the washing machine. The discharge hose is, on occasion, the culprit. It’s normally either a recent move that’s dislodged the clamp at the base of the machine or a hose that’s jumped out of the drain. You always want to zip tie them to the water shutoffs if you can.
Washing machine drain pans
If your washing machine is on a second floor you should have a drain pan under it. As a
disclaimer, I hate this. I think pans are more trouble than they’re worth. But it’s plumbing code. The assumption here is that if there’s a leak it’ll go into the pan. But rarely will the leak be under the washing machines. The pan needs to have a drain pipe connected to it that drains indirectly into a basement floor drain. If you have a floor drain under the machine with a p-trap on the second floor, that’s wrong. A p-trap implies it’s connected directly to the sewer. This drain is not going to regularly get water in it. The p-trap will dry out. That means you’ll end up with sewer gas in your house.
Who fixes washing machines
To be clear, plumbers don’t normally repair the machines. We only repair the plumbing for the machines. That would include all the things discussed here. And it would of course include washer drain clogs. But that’s a subject for another post. Just remember that if you need a local Lees Summit plumber, please call Advocate Master Plumbing. If we can’t fix it we can usually refer someone that can. And don’t forget to call us if you need a hot water heater installation in Lee’s Summit or Lee’s Summit sump pump replacement!