Washing Machine Overflowing-How to fix?

gr82bgrammyDecember 5, 2006

We live in a 1900 farmhouse where the washer and kitchen sink drain goes into the side yard instead of our septic tank. During the spin cycle, the washer water sometimes backs up into the kitchen sink. Lately, the washer has overflowed several times and water comes out of the standpipe. The water seems to flow steady for about half the spin cycle any I can see it inching up to the top of the standpipe. Then, water goes on down the pipe out of sight. Then it quickly fills back up and overflows.

The plumbing for the washer is as follows: 2" vertical pipe from back of washer through floor (about 3' long), then pea trap in crawl space under house, 2" pipe runs 8-10' horizontally, kitchen sink y'd into drain line, 2" pipe continues to run underground for about 100-150 feet then drains out into the yard.

When washing clothes, there is almost always a bad odor and we noticed that the drain tube going from the washer into the vertical standpipe had crud in it so we changed it and put a new one on. Maybe that will stop the odor. We'll see after we get the overflow problem fixed.

Got any suggestions on what we need to do to repair this? Thanks,


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IÂm sorry to say, that no matter where this is, it is outside of the codes that regulate all plumbing systems. You have two Âgray-water fixtures that should be flowing to a sanitary system.

Now, the fact seems to be, they are not. They are flowing to an open drain. And they are backing up. ThatÂs pretty unusual. They should flow freely forever. Obviously something has caused a blockage in the distant drain line. And, it is likely to be some sort of vermin. It may also be organic growth.

In any case, the same rodding that clears a legal drain will clear this one. You need to run a snake thru it and open the flow path that once worked. Maybe you should wait a month. I hate to see nice people spend the Christmas Holidays in jail.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 9:08PM
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Thanks for responding, Pinoke. Our house is about 100 years old and that drain ran outside when we purchased the house 13 years ago. I'm not trying to do something illegal and when all our home inspections were done, we weren't told to change anything. I figured the drain was somehow grandfathered in. What now?

Should the snake run from the end of the drain line towards the house to clean the pipe out, or should it be disconnected and run from the washer out (or does it matter). Could it be just gunk that can be cleaned out by using some kind of disolving solution?

I really appreciate your help.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 12:46PM
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run the snake from the washer outward. The way this drain is I would avoid using chemicals.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 6:23PM
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Thanks for the responses. My husband will go get a snake tomorrow. What about using enzymes, not chemicals, to dissolve gunk in the lines?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 9:13PM
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they may work to keep it free flowing after snaking it.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 3:41AM
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It is the intention of a drain rod to do two things: ream the pipe wall and promote the normal flow of waste to the sewer (aided by water.) As such, the direction of work would always be from the fixtures outward.

Again, this is about, technique (technical.) It canÂt be suggested that you actually do it, because of the fact that the receptor is not an acceptable sewage treatment system. Running sanitary waste to an open drain is wrong regardless whether it was caught by inspection or not.

In an earlier time, it was often allowed to run a septic line from a building to a Ânatural drain. Today we call that "the Proverbial Creek." To my knowledge that is no longer lawful. But that does not mean that all the old systems have been upgraded.

As such, it is equally wrong to use either caustic or biochemical remedies. I am just enough of a free spirit to violate some code restrictions for the practical benefit. This is too far outside the codes, because it represents a clear and present danger to people who may not be otherwise protected.

A washing machine can be expected to carry some organic waste including fecal material. While it is not the same degree of hazard as a toilet, it is properly disposed only in a sanitary drain.

That is why my continuing advice, FWIW, is to repair the drain with a suitable change in the handling of the waste, instead of trying to make Âplumbing out of something that isnÂt.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 9:38AM
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Thanks for your advice on repairing our overflowing washer drain problem. My husband has cut off the drain line that ran water into the back yard and has connected the drain to our septic system. All is working great now! Let's hope it stays that way! I have no idea why the previous owners had run the drain into the backyard-but let's hope it wasn't due to septic tank problems!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 1:31AM
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They do things a little different out in the country.
When I was in the 3rd grade we moved to maine in the middle of winter. We had an outhouse built over a small brook. There was one big flush when the brook thawed in the spring. There was a hand dug well and water piped into the kitchen only. The drain from the kitchen sink went thru the wall into a wooden v-trough and into a swampy area behind the house.
When the ground thawed out, my father had a new well drilled uphill from the house, and converted the old hand dug well into a septic tank with an overflow going to the brook. No drain field. He installed indoor plumbing and routed everything to the new septic tank. The tank was never pumped out and I lived there 10 years.
This was all 200 yards from the ocean. The lobsters were well fed!!!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 9:40PM
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