Seeking some advice regarding pipe problem and washing machine

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chris_mchenry

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We recently developed a problem with water coming out of the drain pipe that our washer releases into. We got a new LG washer months ago and everything had been going fine until about a month ago when water started coming out of the drain pipe when the machine was run. I'd estimate the amount of water that comes out during a cycle is about 2-3 cups. Obviously, it appears we have some kind of partial block in the drain pipe or on down the line. I tried snaking the drain with a handheld drain auger, but I'm only able to put the auger wire into the pipe about 5 feet when it pushes up against something hard. I'm guessing that this is not the actual block, rather that maybe this is where the pipe has a bend or turn.

One big problem with my diagnosis of the situation is that I cannot access the pipe from below in the crawl space. When I go down into the crawl space, I can see the hot and cold lines going to the washer area, but no drain pipe. The pipe is located in a laundry closet that was part of a garage, converted by a former owner into a room. I'm guessing that the pipe was put in when the house was first built and maybe covered with concrete. It is probably connected underground to pipes going to the main sewer. The downspouts on each side of the former garage room also drain into the ground, so maybe the two downspouts and the laundry drain were connected to all drain together into the sewer. Does this sound probable to someone who is familiar with plumbing and how the pipes are put in? If this is the case, is this going to a costly nightmare to fix? I'm very concerned that they might have to tear up the piping to repair it. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Thank you in advance for taking the time to read and consider this.
 

bud16415

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First off welcome to the forum.



My guess is your new machine outputs more water faster than the line can take and likely to put in a new line might be expensive from what you tell us.



Some thoughts I have on what you could try and see if you can get by would be to lengthen the pipe so it holds more water or better yet lengthen it with an adapter and then a larger size pipe.



If you are only losing 2-3 cups this might just work if the pipe could hold say an extra gallon or so, that will fill and then drain slower.

Others may have some ideas.
 

chris_mchenry

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First off welcome to the forum.



My guess is your new machine outputs more water faster than the line can take and likely to put in a new line might be expensive from what you tell us.



Some thoughts I have on what you could try and see if you can get by would be to lengthen the pipe so it holds more water or better yet lengthen it with an adapter and then a larger size pipe.



If you are only losing 2-3 cups this might just work if the pipe could hold say an extra gallon or so, that will fill and then drain slower.

Others may have some ideas.
Hi. Thanks for this thought. I had considered that the new machine might have higher output, although the problem did not occur in the first few months using the new washer, so it seems something developed in the meantime unrelated to output. However, your suggestion about increasing the outflow pipe size is a good one and I might resort to this if I can't find another way to resolve it - your suggestion would definitely beat having to tear up the floor to expose pipes or some other more extreme solution!
 

Eddie_T

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I'm just musing but suppose the vent had been serving as a standpipe for the sudden outrush of water but has become blocked.
 

chris_mchenry

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First off welcome to the forum.



My guess is your new machine outputs more water faster than the line can take and likely to put in a new line might be expensive from what you tell us.



Some thoughts I have on what you could try and see if you can get by would be to lengthen the pipe so it holds more water or better yet lengthen it with an adapter and then a larger size pipe.



If you are only losing 2-3 cups this might just work if the pipe could hold say an extra gallon or so, that will fill and then drain slower.

Others may have some ideas.
Hi. Thanks for this thought. I had considered that the new machine might have higher output, although the problem did not occur in the first few months using the new washer, so it seems something developed in the meantime unrelated to output. However, your suggestion about increasing the outflow pipe size is a good one and I might resort to this if I can't find another way to resolve it - your suggestion would definitely beat having to tear up the floor to expose pipes or some other more extreme solution!
I'm just musing but suppose the vent had been serving as a standpipe for the sudden outrush of water but has become blocked.
I'm just musing but suppose the vent had been serving as a standpipe for the sudden outrush of water but has become blocked.
 

chris_mchenry

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Eddie commented that maybe the vent has become blocked that serves as the standpipe for the washer outflow. I'm wondering how I should check this out and how to clear it if it is indeed the problem. Would a drain auger work on this? For some reason, I think it might not, but I also don't really understand how this vent is tied into the system and how it works. I'd appreciate feedback on this. Thank you.
 

bud16415

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Depending on where the water is going and the chance of sewer gas coming back up and out the pipe and how whoever ran the drain pipes knew what they were doing there could or should be a trap in the line.



You need air behind water to allow the water to flow freely and that’s why you would have a vent pipe or pipes going up and thru your roof. They can become clogged in the winter with snow/ice or sometime something can nest in them etc. Normally a clogged vent will cause a chugging flow and you will hear gurgling in other drains on the same vent. Sometimes the suction of the flow is too much and it will pull the water from the trap and you will get smells. It will also make the drain seem like a partial clog and slow the flow.

In older homes the washer was not always tied into the same drain as the sewer line out in the country and people had drywells for wash water. Just a pit filled with stones. They sometimes over year also start to get plugged up with soap and flow out slower. I had a basement laundry with a sump pump to pump the water to a drywell when I moved the laundry up to the main floor I just ran a drain line to the sump and didn’t need a trap.
 

Eddie_T

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Looking at the roofline does the vent appear to be directly above the washer location?
 

chris_mchenry

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Looking at the roofline does the vent appear to be directly above the washer location?
I went out this morning and looked - yes, I can see a vent near the roofline that is directly above the washer location, plus I can see the vent pipe in the closet where the washer is. I am going to go up today to take a look. It's kind of a long pipe so might be hard to see if the block is lower in the pipe. I wonder if I should try to snake it with the drain auger or if this might cause more problems by simply pushing the block lower?
 

Eddie_T

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I'm not that experienced with augers but believe that plumbers have a reason to use them from the vent. I think it's so they can use the auger w/o going through the trap and have easier access to the drain rather than just augering the vent. I also think the auger is intended to break up a blockage and flush it on through the drain. If it can be augered through the vent w/o endangering you I would suggest trying it with some water flow through the drain if feasible. But again realize I am not a plumber so I yield to anyone with experience.
 

bud16415

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You can take the water hose up on the roof with you and quickly find out if the vent is blocked. Have someone in the laundry room keeping and eye on the drain pipe and plugging the opening with a wadded up rag just in case it is plugged down stream.
 
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It is possible it is a vent problem, but not near as likely as a plug in the pipe from lint etc. from the washing machine. Increasing the holding capacity of the drain might work for a while but odds are the flow capacity of the drain will continue to decrease as the plug gets worse.

First What kind of material is the drainpipe made from?
Second Is there a trap visible in the washing machine standpipe?
Third Find where your inground downspouts discharge. Put water in the washing machine and then start it pumping out. See if there is water discharge at downspout discharge to decide if the downspouts and the washer drain are tied together.
Fourth Is it possible your washer drain is in a wall?
Fifth What size is your washer drain? Preferably is would be 2".
Lastly Can you provide pictures that might give more clues as to what is going on?

Running water into the vent on the roof or running an auger into the roof vent might help open the drain, but with your description I would be surprised if it does.
The downspouts should not be connected to the sanitary sewer. That was done in some places but is normally not allowed. Washing machine discharge is considered grey water and could possibly be connected to the downspout drain. Whatever you are hitting when attempting to snake the drain may require you to open the floor. If that becomes the case, you might be able to approximate the location of the issue and open only a small hole rather than a large area. There are many variables to a problem like this and it requires a lot of info to come up with a solution. Keep feeding us info and we will keep trying to help.
 

chris_mchenry

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I wanted to send an update. First, I really appreciate all the advice given. This is a great forum - thank you for taking the time to try to help me. The mountain of unwashed clothes was building and we decided to hire a professional. A tech came out and used a professional auger; this cleared it up right away. So it was not a vent problem, just needed a better tool than my $20 hand-held auger. Thank you again for all the help. :)
 
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