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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Plumbing to Add A Washer & Dryer

For our apartment conversion project we wanted to add a stacked washer/dryer inside the master bath closet. In addition to making the closet a little deeper, we also needed to do all the plumbing.

I'm not a plumber. With that said, I've done a lot of plumbing. Your system may be quite different, but many parts will be the same. Let's go through the main steps to adding the laundry connections.

1. Install the connection box. This plastic box sells for around $20 and it has the hot/cold valves where you connect the washing machine. The center knock-out is where we'll connect the 2" drain pipe. It's supposed to be installed higher than the washing machine, not less than around 34" high. Mine ended up around 38" off the floor.

2. For our situation, the washer dryer would be adjacent to the shower, so I wanted to make my hot/cold water supply connections there. To save time, I like to use PEX tubing with Shark-Bite fittings. It's super-easy to work with and can be used with both PEX and copper pipes, making the transitions with one fitting.
You can see in the picture where I added a "T" fitting to add a branch water line to the washer/dryer. I was also installing new shower hardware so this was the time to do that as well.

Typically, you'll be joining your supply lines to existing pipes somewhere under the house. You might consider adding some valves when you do this. Valves are always quite handy, especially in older homes where there are none to be found!

PEX is flexible, so I could bend it around and easily make the connections to the underside of the washer/dryer box which required a Shark-Bite fitting from 1/2" PEX to 1/2" pipe thread.

TIP: Take out a Sharpie-type marker and label your PEX "hot" or "cold" with arrows so that you (and others) will know what's going through each pipe. It may be extremely helpful later.

3. The drain may be trickier to install depending on where you have to connect to. If you're unsure, always call a plumber because this isn't something you want to guess about or you'll have a pond to deal with. Thankfully, my connections were just behind the block wall where the washer/dryer were located so I didn't have far to go. Usually, your drain pipe will just go straight down and join with a P-trap that is just under the floor before going on to connect with the system.

Laundry drains are supposed to be 2" PVC to handle the amount of water that will be used. You also have to include a P-Trap in your design to keep the sewer gases out of your home. The picture shows my connections and you can also see my PEX supply lines.

The original drains were all cast iron. These can be a pain to deal with, but it can be done. First, make sure you go get the appropriate saw blade for your reciprocal saw to cut cast iron. With that in hand, you can make clean cuts through the heavy pipe and make your connections using some sort of rubber sleeve. You can see mine in the picture. I actually made two cuts to fit the flexible "T" in place. It was a little messy, but actually went pretty quick.

Well, those are the basics to get you started or maybe show you that it's more than you should try on your own... :)


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