Many homeowners opt to put their washing machines in the basement to save on precious floor space. However, often basements don’t have the necessary drainage systems to easily plumb in your washing machine.
The best way to drain a basement washing machine is to use a drain pump mounted under a sink in order to raise water to a drain. You can also use the pump in the washing machine, but this causes wear and tear and is less reliable. Also, consider raising your washing machine to alleviate stress on the pump.
Within this article, I’ll walk you through the available options, their pros and cons, and the costs involved in effectively plumbing in your washing machine in the basement.
How to drain a washing machine in a basement without a floor drain
Many homeowners opt to put their laundry in the basement due to space restrictions within the home. Washing machines need to connect to a drainage system in order to function correctly. Unfortunately, many basements don’t have floor drains. In most houses, drains are only found at ground level.
Note: If you already have a toilet installed within the basement, you probably already have some kind of drainage plumbing available. It’s most likely to be a sewage ejector system and a plumber can plumb in your washing machine to this setup.
One way to drain a washing machine without a plumbed-in drain is to simply put the drainage hose into a bucket. You’d need to carry the bucket upstairs, pour out the excess water, and replace it each cycle.
When I lived in a rental unit for a few months this temporary solution worked relatively well, but luckily there are a few more sustainable options for you to consider.
A drain Pump
The best way to drain a washing machine in the basement where there isn’t a floor drain is to use a standalone gray water pump. Drain pumps can be mounted directly beneath a sink when a drain line is not available. A well-known manufacturer of drain pumps is Sanfilo (on Amazon).
Most gray water pumps are capable of lifting water over 15 feet which should be more than sufficient for your laundry to reach your drainage on the ground floor. Often drainage will be on the ceiling of the basement, therefore around 6 feet – 8 feet above where the washing machine will sit.
The ideal setup is to install a sink next to your washing machine and mount the drain pump underneath this sink. Then run the drainage hose from the washing machine into the sink. When the sink drains, the pump lifts the drainage water up to the ground floor.
The sink acts as a reservoir to collect drainage water, because sometimes water will come out of the washing machine quicker than the pump can eject water upwards. Homeowners should also get some peace of mind knowing that should the pump fail, the sink is large enough to accept a complete discharge of a washing machine drain cycle.
I’d recommend looking for a drain pump that comes with a non-return valve to stop any wastewater from coming back on itself. Also look for a pump with a vent connection, as all plumbing codes require a connection to a vent system. Without a vent, gas can be really dangerous.
Drain pumps are the best option because:
- They are relatively cheap (around $200 – $400) to purchase
- They are easy to install and can be installed by keen DIYers
- Drain pumps are reliable and durable, and are capable of pumping water upwards to your plumbed-in drainage
- Adding a sink next to your washing machine offers peace of mind in case of pump failure, is useful, and can also be used for other appliances such as dishwashers
However, you’ll also need to purchase and install a laundry sink (on Amazon) which may cost around $150 depending on the model. Also, consider the additional space the sink may occupy.
Here’s a great video on how to install a sink and pump next to your washing machine in the basement:
Using the built-in washing machine pump
Modern washing machines have built-in drain pumps that are often capable of pumping drainage water up to 8 feet. The average height of a basement in the US is 7 – 9 feet and so many washing machines should be able to pump water up to the ground floor drainage system.
This can prevent homeowners from having to install a standalone gray water pump and a sink, saving both space and money.
This method involves extending the drainage hose upwards from the washing machine and into a plumbed-in drainage pipe.
On the face of it this seems like an attractive option, however, there are a few things homeowners should consider:
- There is no set standard for how high washing machines can pump water. Front-load washers can often only pump up to 3 feet, whereas top-load washers can often pump as high as 8 feet.
- Older machines have weaker pumps and it may be hard to tell if the washing machine is capable of pumping over 8 feet before installing the extension pipe overhead.
- Washing machine pumps weaken over time, and homeowners should consider the wear and tear (or burnout) caused to washing machine pumps by pumping water so high.
- Washing machine pumps may not be capable of draining water upwards at the required rate, which would cause issues where the washing machine doesn’t drain quickly enough and would therefore fail to spin.
In addition to washing machine pump considerations, you’ll also need to think about how the drainage pipe will be plumbed in. You’ll need to install a trap, an air gap, a check valve, and a vent in order to be safe and compliant. This prevents water from draining back into your washing machine when the pump stops.
If you are going to use your washing machine pump to drain water out of your basement, I’d recommend purchasing a new top-load washing machine with a powerful pump and having a plumber install your drainage hose. I’d also recommend raising the height of your washing machine (covered in more detail below).
Raising your washing machine
If you are going to use the washing machine’s pump to raise water rather than an external drain pipe, I would recommend mounting the washer on a pedestal.
Putting your washer on a pedestal and running the drainage hose upwards shortens the distance of the hose, and this alleviates some of the load your washing machine pump has to bear.
By raising your washing machine, the washing machine pump doesn’t have to work quite as hard which should make the setup more reliable. You’ll still face issues regarding pumping power and longevity but not as severely.
There are however some considerations regarding raising your machine:
- You may only be able to raise front-load washing machines due to the geometry of where laundry is loaded. Front-load washing machines are often only capable of pumping 3 feet upwards.
- Washing machine pedestals (on Amazon) may not be universal so you’ll need to ensure a correct setup to prevent vibrations. Modern washing machines are controlled by software that can malfunction easily.
However, a pedestal may give you more storage space and depending on your height, would make the washing machine more comfortable to use.
using A bucket
The final way you can drain your washing machine in the basement is to use a bucket. To do this, you’d simply drain the washing machine hose into the bucket in the same way that you would into a sink.
The average amount of water a washing machine uses per load is 23 gallons meaning you’ll either need to use a huge bucket or make multiple trips up and downstairs whilst the washer is running!
Where Should a Basement Washing Machine Drain To?
Draining a basement washing machine to the wastewater system ensures that the water and any detergent or other chemicals used during the washing process are properly disposed of, preventing potential health risks.
Suppose the water from the washing machine is not drained into the wastewater system. In that case, it can cause environmental contamination and health hazards.
The water may contain harmful chemicals or microorganisms that can harm humans, animals, and plants if released into the environment.
In addition to environmental concerns, not draining a basement washing machine to the wastewater system can cause damage to the home’s plumbing system.
If the water is not properly drained, it can cause clogs or blockages in the pipes. Over time, this can cause damage to the pipes and result in costly repairs.
Furthermore, not draining a basement washing machine to the wastewater system can result in foul odors in the home.
The stagnant water can create a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, producing unpleasant smells. It can be especially problematic in a basement, where there is often poor ventilation, and the odors can linger.
Regulations and Building Codes
It is also worth noting that many building codes require a washing machine to drain into the wastewater system. This ensures homes have proper plumbing systems that comply with health and safety regulations.
How do you drain a basement washing machine to the wastewater system? The process will depend on the specific plumbing system in your home. Generally, it involves connecting the washing machine’s drainage hose to a standpipe or other wastewater system.
The standpipe is a vertical pipe connected to the wastewater system and serves as a drain for the washing machine. The drainage hose should be securely connected to the standpipe to prevent leaks or spills.
Why is it important to drain my basement washing machine to the wastewater system?
Draining your basement washing machine to the wastewater system is important for environmental, health, plumbing, and regulatory reasons.
The water and any chemicals used during the washing process must be disposed of properly to prevent environmental contamination, plumbing issues, foul odors, and potential health hazards.
Can I drain my basement washing machine myself?
Yes, it is possible to drain your basement washing machine yourself. However, it is important to ensure you do it safely and effectively. Call a professional plumber or appliance repair technician if you are unsure of what you’re doing.
How do I connect my washing machine’s drainage hose to the wastewater system?
The specific process will depend on the plumbing system in your home. Still, it generally involves connecting the washing machine’s drainage hose to a standpipe or other wastewater system.
The drainage hose should be securely connected to the standpipe to prevent leaks or spills.
What should I do if I encounter a clog in the drainage system?
Suppose you encounter a clog in the drainage system. In that case, it is best to call a professional plumber or appliance repair technician. Attempting to remove the clog yourself could cause further damage to your home’s plumbing system.
How often should I drain my basement washing machine?
It is recommended that you drain your basement washing machine after every use to ensure that the water and any chemicals used during the washing process are properly disposed of and present no risk to your home or the environment.
What should I do if I notice foul odors from my basement washing machine?
Foul odors from your basement washing machine could indicate stagnant water, bacteria, or mold. Calling a professional plumber or appliance repair technician to diagnose and address the issue is best.
Can I drain my basement washing machine into a sump pump?
Draining your basement washing machine into a sump pump is generally not recommended, as it can cause damage to the sump pump and result in flooding or other water damage.
Connecting your washing machine’s drainage hose to a standpipe or other wastewater system is best.