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    Washing machine drain keeps overflowing

    Asked Jan 28, 2006, 08:28 PM 7 Answers
    Hi, at my house, we have had a continuous problem over the years being that the washing machine drain will back-up and overflow from time to time. It occurs about every 6 months or so, and to fix the problem, I pour Assault down the drain, and that takes care of the problem. The washing machine is on the second floor, which has lef to a number of problems over the years with the overflowing. When it overflows, it has created a problem of leaking down the ceiling. Also, after years of using Assault (my mother has owned this house for 29 years), it eventually ate through the cast iron drain pipes. About 4 or 5 years ago, my brother and I tore down the ceiling, and replaced the cast iron drain pipes and then replaced the ceiling (a very big job). For probably about 2 years there was not an overflowing problem with the washer. It eventually came back, and now I am resorting to Assault again, hoping it won't eat through the pipes while my mother still lives here. I know essentially the problem is the cast iron drain pipes are 2 inch pipes, and there is very little angle to the pipes to cause the water and detergent residue to want to run towards the ground... They almost run perpendicular to the ceiling(discovered when we replaced them). And the problem is that with it being the washer, there is always detergent, and with the angle of the pipes, the detergent build up a residue in the drain.

    Just some history and stats if they help... The house is about 35 years old, washer is on the second floor, there is a basement, the washer drains into a drain pipe that is about the height of the washer, the drain then runs down about 4 feet or so and then there is the trap, I do know there is a vent right after the trap leading up towards the attic (and I know it is the vent, because there are not any other drains higher than the washer).

    Is there a type of detergent we could use that causes less residue in the drain? Is there anything I can do, other then use Assault whenever it overflows? I'm hoping something can be done, because there is already some signs of weakening in the ceiling on the first floor under the washer from the opverflowing (and keep in mind that ceiling is only 4 or 5 years old). Trying to do anything with changing the angle of the cast iron pipes is pretty much out of the question, because that could require extremely extensive remodeling, including the floor joists (I hope I spelled that right), and we live in a condo (more like a townhouse though), and we would need approval to do that, and I don't know if we could get it.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    Last edited by hkrach; Jan 29, 2006 at 09:15 AM.
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    7 Answers
    hkrach's Avatar
    hkrach Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #2

    Jan 29, 2006, 09:16 AM
    Not sure if this helps at all, but we always do use a liquid detergent, although not always the same brand.
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    hkrach's Avatar
    hkrach Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #3

    Jan 29, 2006, 03:33 PM
    Cansomeone please help ASAP because the machine has recently started overflowing again, and I want to try to fix this problem for good this time.
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    speedball1's Avatar
    speedball1 Posts: 28,576, Reputation: 1907
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    #4

    Jan 29, 2006, 03:45 PM


    I thought I answered this morning. First you'll have to clear the drain line by snaking it out. It's not the detergent but the fiber that clogs up the pipes. Snake out the drain and this should cure your troubles. Unless there's back fall between the trap and the vent the head pressure plus the pump force should be enough to drain the discharge once the line's cleared. Good luck, Tom
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    hkrach's Avatar
    hkrach Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #5

    Jan 29, 2006, 06:22 PM
    Thanks for your reply Tom... is there a way to keep this from happening for good. As I said, the pipes were replaced about 4 or 5 years ago, so it is a continuing problem... any ideas to prevent future backups? Thanks
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    dmrlook's Avatar
    dmrlook Posts: 127, Reputation: 8
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    #6

    Jan 29, 2006, 06:37 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by hkrach
    Thanks for your reply Tom...is there a way to keep this from happening for good. As I said, the pipes were replaced about 4 or 5 years ago, so it is a continuing problem...any ideas to prevent future backups? Thanks
    As Tom says, since the fibers are clogging the line, have you tried putting one of those metallic lint collectors on the end of the pipe coming out of the machine before it enters the drain pipe. Our washing machine drains into the laundry sink just next to it, and when I don't have one of those lint collectors on the pipe from the washer, the sink drain needs to be cleared of lint about every 5-8 washes. That won't completely fix your problem I imagine, but it will certainly help. And don't forget to replace the lint traps - they get clogged up pretty fast which can't be good for the washing machine pump to have to puch through that crap.

    Good luck
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    hkrach's Avatar
    hkrach Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #7

    Jan 29, 2006, 07:41 PM
    Thanks dmrlook, actually I did try that, but it won't work because the hose from the washer goes directly into the drain pipe, so the metal screen won't fit over the hose and into the pipe at the same time. Thanks for the suggestion though... this is just bugging me because I am doing some repair work/painting/replacing floors, and I feel it is pointless to do any work around the washer until I can fix it for good since when it overflows it creats a large mess and will further damage the floor and wall around it. I have investigated moving the washer and dryer to the basement in my house. In the room where I would, I have easy access to water lines, and there is a 220 outlet that is unused, and I could have the washer drain into the drain in the floor, the only major problem is a dryer vent, because like I said, living in a condo, major alterations can't be made without board approval, and installing a dryer vent would require some external work... but moving them to the basement would not be my first choice, like I said, I would rather just find a permantent fix for their current location.
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    Jeff Beck's Avatar
    Jeff Beck Posts: 3, Reputation: 2
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    #8

    Apr 7, 2008, 06:35 AM
    I had a similar problem. After I ran a snake, I noticed there was a lot of detergent caking up with the clothing fibers. My wife had changed to powdered detergent a few months before and it appears that it does not dissolve completely and causes a build up after time. I asked her to change back to liquid detergent and have not had a problem since.
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