When I bought this little house I knew it would need a lot of renovations and I had a list of priorities. Then reality set in! An overflowing toilet made the bathroom the number one priority. That one involved a new floor, new drywall, new vanity and repainting everything. No pictures- sorry. The second remodel was also inspired by plumbing. I’m thinking that a working toilet, running water and drains that work are essentials. Let’s give a shout-out to plumbers everywhere!
The washing machine seemed to be working but occasionally it didn’t wash the clothes. They were wet, but that was about it. When I pulled the washing machine away from the wall I discovered the reason. The drain from the washing machine had been duck taped to the floor drain, completely sealing it. So, there was never a backflow onto the floor, but the dirty water from the washer didn’t always drain well. The plan- install a washing machine box with an air admittance vent for proper drainage.
This was the original plumbing for the washer. The water supplies were steel pipes bracketed to the wall. The drain was a PVC pipe connected to a steel tube coming out of the floor. The lack of an air vent in this system was causing the poor drainage.
If there isn’t air flow in a drainage system the best you might get is a “glug glug” as water tries to flow through a pipe. Air inside the drainage pipe gets trapped and slows the flow of water entering the pipe. The vent allows that air to be pushed out of the way by the water. Once the water has passed, air re-enters the vent. This and the water in the p-trap form a seal that keeps gas from the sewer system from entering the house.
A quick trip to the hardware store got me an Oatey washing machine outlet box and an air admittance valve. The space in the laundry room was limited so I needed a box that would allow me to put the drain on the left side. This one allowed me to arrange the inside of the box as I needed. Something to note if you live in an older house. Old plumbing used galvanized pipe. Newer houses use copper pipe. Galvanized steel and copper don’t play well together. When the two are joined a chemical reaction occurs and over time deposits build up in the steel pipe, blocking water flow. This washer box uses brass fittings which play well with steel. So- problem avoided!
An air admittance valve (AAV) replaces the vent in standard plumbing. It attaches to the drain system between the p-trap and the pipe leading to the sewer. My son the plumber tells me that these valves don’t meet construction codes, but since I live out in the Wild West, homeowners don’t have to get permits or inspections on any home improvements they do themselves. If you think this kind of valve might solve a problem in your home, check codes where you live before cutting into your system.
The original drain was too close to the window for me to put both the AAV and the washer drain inlet on the same side of the washing machine box so I had to build a little maze of pipes. The pipes will be concealed inside a box that I built around all the plumbing. In this photo the box frame is in place. The AAV needs air so it will extend out of the box. I have installed three AAVs throughout the house. This one works the best. A lot of pictures of AAVs show them inside cabinets. They seem to work better if you can get a lot of height between the drain and the AAV.
Washer outlet boxes like this one are designed to fit between wall studs. Since I didn’t have wall studs to work with, I screwed it to the wall.
When putting together PVC pipes to create any kind of system you need to use a PVC primer and then PVC cement. This slightly melts the outer part of the pipe and welds the two pieces of PVC together. Plan first! Once you have put your pieces together they are stuck. No turning back!
The pipes did not line up perfectly. It took several trips to the hardware store to come up with a solution to this problem I ended up getting a rubber coupling to connect the drain system to the main drain. It was flexible enough to accommodate the slight difference in the pipes.
If you plan on making some home improvements, get to know the folks at your local hardware store. There are most likely a few people who really know their stuff. Find those people and listen to them! Stay humble, keep a sense of humor, say “thank you” and you will find that people are more than happy to help you.
The laundry room does not have a heating duct. I anticipate needing a space heater in that room this winter. As a precaution against frozen pipes, I insulated my plumbing before closing the box.
The box cover is screwed in place so that if there are plumbing problems later on, it will be easy to access the pipes inside the box.
The last steps were to add the outside frame to the washing machine box, paint it and hook up the washer. It was pretty satisfying to hear the water drain away during the spin cycle and to pull out clean clothes!