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Many washers have built-in pumps capable of pushing water high enough to directly connect the washer to the standpipe. Or the washer can be raised high enough on a pedestal. A drainage system can be made with a laundry sink and pump. Old washers can be replaced with new ones capable of pumping higher.
Basements are ideal locations for laundry rooms, particularly unfinished basements that are not good for many other functions. Basements are large enough to accommodate your washer and dryer along with all the other paraphernalia involved in doing your washing. They are out of the way, so you don’t have to worry about the sounds disturbing your household. You also have a good place to stash the laundry when unexpected guests pop over.
With these benefits and more, what’s stopping you from setting up the washer in the basement? It shouldn’t be the lack of a floor drain because this obstacle is relatively easy to overcome!
Do You Have to Install a Floor Drain?
You do not need to install a floor drain because there are other ways to plumb a washer without one. Many washers have the capacity nowadays to pump water as far as 6 ft upwards over an extended period.
Pros and Cons of Installing a Floor Drain
- Cost (potentially): If you know what you are doing and already own a hollow drill hole cutter and power drill, the cost for the materials will be limited. The cost for the pipes and drain will likely be less than a new washer or other pumping systems. If you are new to DIY, it may not be worth it to attempt such a big project, and hired help will increase the costs.
- Verstility: If you ever decide to finish your basement or make a change, then the floor drain can serve other purposes like as a drain for a shower.
- Inconvenient: This is a very time-consuming and labor-intensive job. It will involve a lot of planning, drilling through concrete, digging trenches for your new pipes, placing pipes, and connecting them to existing drain pipes. The many steps in this process need to be executed properly to ensure no damage will be done.
- Cost: It may be best to consult a professional for this process, which will add to the costs of the project.
You Might Not Have to Do Anything Special
Washers come with built-in pumps. These pumps are capable of pumping upward to a certain height. Depending on your washer, this height might get you to the standpipe running along the basement ceiling.
The user manual will determine how far away from your washer you can connect your drainpipe with the standpipe. Many standard washer models today come with drainpipes that can extend 8 ft above the bottom of the washer! However, if your washer is older this may not be the case.
You don’t want to push the built-in pump beyond what it was designed to do as it can cause your washer to break, and any warranties would be voided. Consult with your washer’s manual to determine if it will be able to link with the ceiling standpipe safely.
If you are buying a new washer, more than likely the drainpipe will be able to reach up high enough to attach to the standpipe, in which case you will not need to worry about not having a floor drain at all.
Can the Washer Be Raised?
It is possible to raise your washing machine, so this is something you’ll want to consider. If you are able to raise your washing machine, a floor drain may not be necessary.
Raising a washing machine needs to be considered carefully because they are relatively heavy appliances that can cause damage and injury if they fell off the stand. They are also machines that vibrate, and so have a tendency to move around on their feet. Combine these two factors and you can see why raising the washer is a bit more complex than putting it on a box.
Certain washer/ dryer manufacturers make specific pedestals that go with their machines. These pedestals should be safe to go with the same machine but may not work with other brands and models.
An important consideration when raising your washer is if the pedestal has leveling feet or not. If there are no leveling feet and the basement is uneven, it will not be safe to put your washer on a pedestal.
It is important to use highly sturdy materials to raise a washing machine, including steel, heavy-duty plastic, or plywood. There are products out there for purchase to raise your washing machine.
You Will Need a Drain Vent (or Similar)
With the majority of basement washing machine setups, you will be pumping water upwards, so there needs to be protection that water and gases will not flow back into the washer.
This is where a drain vent comes in handy. A drain vent keeps air moving through the plumbing so that a vacuum is not formed and air, debris, and water are not sucked back into the washer.
A drain pumping upwards may be prone to clogs as well, which should be snaked out or shot out with an air compressor.
Check valves are an option to regulate flow and prevent backflow into the machine; however, they should be used with caution. They are not always allowed by code on drains since they produce enough resistance to cause overflow.
4 Ways to Install a Washer With No Floor Drain
There are a variety of options that do not involve using a floor drain for your washing machine drain. These processes are generally less time- and labor-intensive but can potentially cost more money than installing a floor drain.
1. Connect the Washer to the Ceiling Standpipe
This method is only possible with certain washers that have enough draining pressure to send drain products upwards against gravity.
In order to connect the drainpipe to the standpipe, you must cut out a section of the ceilings pipe and replace it with a PVC Y-fitting. This can be secured into place using stainless steel couplings (amazon link).
- Cost: This is the cheapest option since all you need is what you already have, a y-fitting, and a pair of couplings.
- Ease of installation: The process should be painless from start to finish.
- Time: Nothing will save you time like not having to drill through your concrete floor!
- Doesn’t work for all washers: You will not be able to use this simple method unless your washer has the capacity to pump water high enough.
- Precautions necessary: While the process is simple, caution should taken to ensure that the drainpipe is secured properly and not inserted too far into the standpipe, since this can cause a vaccum to form and water to flow back into the machine.
2. Raise the Washer and Connect it to the Ceiling Standpipe
While certain washing machines and dryer combinations are stackable, the washing machine is too heavy to go on top. If you are going to raise your washing machine, you will need to find a sturdy platform to do so.
You can buy specific washer and dryer pedestals (amazon link) that raise the units a few feet. Make sure to check the weight limits of the pedestal you purchase and consider reinforcing with steel brackets if need be.
- Ease of Installation: The most difficult part of this installation is lifting the washer up and sawing the standpipe to link the new pipe fitting.
- Cost: A washer pedestal will likely only cost a few hundred dollars if purchased and even less if it is built with raw materials.
- Accessibility: An added benefit to raising your washer is that it makes it easier to access what’s inside without bending over and hurting your back.
- Dangerous to self: Washing machines are very heavy, and they can potentially hurt someone if they fell off the pedestal.
- Dangerous to machine: Similarly, the machine could be damaged from a weak pedestal.
3. Install a Laundry Sink/Tub and Pump
A simple and most common methods for installing a washing machine in a basement without a floor drain is to install a laundry sink or tub and a pump.
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A laundry sink pump is installed into the bottom of the sink, and you then must run a PVC line from the pump to your basement’s standpipe. The video below shows this process in more detail.
- Ease of installation: This method is straight forward enough that any homeowner could do it.
- Saves money: No professional help is necessary, so you won’t have to spend extra money on labor.
- Extra space to wash: The sink can be used to soak extra dirty clothes or wash your hands.
- Cost: While you save money on labor, this project will usually rack up to be up to five or six hundred dollars with the cost of the sink and pump.
- Appearance: You may not want to see your dirty laundry water pouring out in the open.
4. Purchase a New Washer with More Powerful Pump
If your washer does not have sufficient power to connect with the standpipe, it may be a sign that it’s an old model and could use a replacement anyway. Replacing the washer will cost several hundred dollars, but it could save you potential energy in finding a different way to route drainage.
- Updated features: Your new washing machine will likely be more powerful and efficient than an older model.
- Energy efficiency: Newer models are more energy efficient, which could save you money in the long run.
- Convenient: Buying a new washer means you won’t need to mess around with any of the more complicated processes listed.
- Expensive up front: Washing machines cost from $600 on the low end to several thousand on the highest end.
- Won’t always solve problem: You need to make sure you are purchasing the correct type of washing machine that has the ability to pump drain water upwards high enough to reach the standpipe.
If none of these solutions are good options for you, then there are benefits to not having your laundry room in the basement. Maybe you can consider a different location.
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