Your washing machine likely drains into your sewer line if you live in a home that is linked to a municipal sewer system. However, if your home has a septic system, your washing machine probably does not drain to the sewer line. Since draining washing machine water into a septic tank can cause complications, many homes with septic systems have a separate gray water system. This gray water system drains washing machine water to an underground dry well via a dedicated line that is separate from your sewer line.
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Where Does Water From Your Washing Machine Drain To?
The drainage options for your washing machine depend on your home plumbing system. If you live in a city or subdivision with a municipal sewer system, then water from your washing machine flows to the same sewer line that your toilets, sinks, and showers drain into. This is the main sewer line. From there, the water will flow to a treatment plant. This is common in urban and suburban homes.
- Washing machines typically drain to the main sewer line if the home is part of a municipal sewer system.
- Homes in urban and suburban areas are typically linked to a sewer system.
- If your home has a septic system, your washing machine most likely drains to a gray water system that is separate from your septic tank.
- Homes in rural areas are more likely to have a septic system, instead of a municipal sewer system.
If your home has a septic system, your washing machine most likely drains into a gray water system that is separate from your septic tank. Instead, the water from your washing machine flows to a dry well that distributes the water safely underground. It is safe to drain washing machine water in this way since it does not contain sewage. This installation is most common in rural or semi-rural areas.
Should Your Washing Machine Drain into Your Septic Tank?
Your washing machine should not drain into your septic tank. Draining your washing machine into your septic tank can cause blockages or may cause waste to flow out of your septic tank and into the drainage field prematurely. This can release sewage onto your property, which puts your family’s health at risk.
- Washing machines should not be drained to your septic tank.
- It is best to drain a washing machine to a standalone gray water system, such as an underground dry well.
- Draining your washing machine to your septic tank can cause blockages and other problems.
Instead of draining to a septic tank, your washing machine should drain to a gray water system. This is usually an underground dry well at least 12 feet (4 meters) from your foundation. A dry well uses gravel and other underground elements to percolate the washing machine water back into the soil. Since washing machine detergent isn’t dangerous to the environment, it’s safe to return the water to the ground in this fashion. This system will preserve your septic tank. Plus, a well-built gray water system will not cause flooding or standing water on your property.
How Do You Find Out Where Your Washing Machine Drains?
You can find out where your washing machine drains by contacting the free 811 service in the United States and Canada. If you contact this service, they will send a professional out to mark underground utility lines on your property, at no cost to you. This can help you determine where your washing machine drainage pipe runs. Properly marked utility lines can also help you locate an underground gray water system on your property.
- Contact the 811 service to have underground utility lines on your property marked for free.
- The 811 service can help you find underground washing machine drainage lines at no cost.
- A professional plumber can also help you determine where your washing machine drains.
In addition to the 811 service, you can hire a licensed plumber to visit your home and help you determine where your washing machine drains. However, this is seldom necessary in areas with a municipal sewer system. In most cases, if your home drains to a sewer line instead of a septic tank, your washing machine drains to the same sewer line that handles all your waste water.
Does a Washer Need a Dedicated Drain?
Washing machines require a vented standpipe in order for your washing machine to drain properly. It is essential to have a dedicated pipe in order for your washing machine to be installed correctly. A standpipe allows for proper washing machine drainage.
- A washing machine must be drained to a vented standpipe, to allow for proper drainage.
- The standpipe must run to the sewer line or to a gray water system for your home.
- A properly installed and vented pipe prevents premature drainage and backflow.
A dedicated standpipe for your washing machine prevents premature drainage, which is when the water meant for washing your clothes flows out of the machine too early. Additionally, proper washing machine drainage prevents backflow. Backflow is when waste water that was drained out of the washing machine flows back into the machine. This can cause your clothes to be soaked in dirty water.
Can Sewage Water Back Up Into Your Washing Machine?
If your sewer line is clogged—or if your washing machine plumbing was not properly installed—sewage water can back up into your washing machine. If this occurs, contact a professional plumber immediately. There are several possible causes of sewage backup in a washing machine, and they all should be addressed quickly.
- Sewage water can back up into your washing machine for several reasons.
- A clogged sewer line is a common cause of sewage backup in a washing machine.
- Improper plumbing installation can also cause sewage to back up into your washer.
- Contact a licensed plumber for repairs that will prevent future sewage backup.
Do not continue to use a washing machine that has backed up with sewage water. A large amount of water that drains from a washing machine can contribute to further drain backups. Instead, have your plumbing immediately checked for clogs.
Why Does Your Washer Drain Smell Like Sewage?
There are several reasons your washing machine drain may smell like sewage. It may be caused by a sewer line clog. However, a washing machine P-trap installed at the wrong height can also allow sewer gas to flow up through your plumbing and release the smell of sewage into your home. A professional plumber can help diagnose and repair these issues.
- A sewage smell in your washing machine may be caused by a sewer line clog.
- Improper washing machine P-trap height can contribute to a sewage smell.
- A professional plumber can help you eliminate a sewage smell coming from your washing machine.
- Do not be alarmed by sewage smell released when you uninstall a washing machine.
You may smell sewage in your laundry room if your washing machine is removed and the drain line is not temporarily plugged. This is because the gases from the sewer line are drifting back up the line and are not being stopped by the water barrier in the P-trap. Temporarily plug the open sewer line with a rag to keep out the smell. Then, remove the rag before you re-install your washing machine.
Is Your Washer Drain Connected to the Toilet Drain?
When you are trying to determine where your washing machine drains, keep these facts in mind:
- If you live in a home that is connected to a city sewer system, your washing machine most likely drains to your sewer line.
- If your home has a septic system, your washing machine should drain to a separate gray water system, not the sewer line.
- Do not drain a washing machine to your septic tank—this can be harmful to your septic system.
- Contact the 811 service or hire a professional plumber to help identify where your washing machine drains.
- In order to drain properly, washing machines require a vented standpipe that runs to a municipal sewer system or a gray water system.
- A clogged sewer line or improperly plumbed washing machine drainage system can cause sewage to back up into your washing machine.
If you believe there is a sewer line blockage that is causing your washing machine drainage pipe to drain incorrectly, treat it as a plumbing emergency. Call a professional to handle drainage-related issues. When installing a new washing machine, plan to drain your washing machine to a sewer system or gray water system.