Plumbing problem at home.

Hey folks,

This isn’t an inspection issue, but a problem I’ve been having in my own home. My wash machine has the standard type of drain hose that “hooks” inself into the drain pipe. No problem there. The problem is that this drain pipe is constantly getting clogged and overflows, and about every month or two I have to snake it out.

Is there some sort of a “clean-out” devise that I can install on this drain pipe or on the drain hose that would be easier to maintain than using that stupid snake all the time? I know they have them for dryer vents, but that’s not my problem.

(I tried teaching all my teenage sons how to snake it out, but for some reason they are never around when it needs to be done ;-))

Thanks in advance for your sharing your expertise.



I’d love to see a picture of your waste pipe installation (for the washer drainage), so we can better identify your clogging situation.

This clogging could be corrected in a number of ways (without snaking), but I’d like to see how the piping is installed.

Is the clog in the washer drain line or the home drain line? It makes a difference. Most (not all) washing machine drains tie into and are part of the “building drain”. Some are tied into separate lines if the home is newer and on a separate “gray water” septic tank. I can not think of what you may be washing that would cause just the washing machine drain to clog, however, on the the other hand, if there is a build up of hardened fats, grease, etc. from the kitchen & bathrooms that can cause what you are describing. When you snake it you are punching through the grease plug and allowing just enough to pass through. Then a couple months later it has built up again. The washing machine typically discharges 30-40 gallons of water, filling up the drain line. Unlike the kitchen sink or dishwasher it discharges much more water at one time. I had to hire a plumber to clear out the main line to the tank, then he recommended pouring a gallon of white vinegar down the kitchen sink drain once a month (at night just before bed) and it desolves the hardened grease in the line.

Hello Mark,

Not sure if this is an option for you…

Back in the ‘old’ days, the washer drain hose did not go into a drain pipe, it was hooked to the utility sink next to the washer. A nylon stocking was attached (as a filter) to the drain hose, which caught all the debris that came out with the water. Never had a clogged drain.

I still see this in use today, in many ‘old’ homes.


You would be surprised at the amount of lint, dirt & other things that comes out of dirty clothes, and accumulates in your drain.

As an example, the next time while washing clothes, take a sample of the dirty water and let it settle.

Helps to see why drains clog.


No kids in our house so the only thing I typically see go down the drain is money. I had a very similar experience as the one he is describing and my neighbor is a licensed plumber (he is the one who did the job for me) makes a very good living just clearing drains. He stays very busy just doing that for restaurants, homes and businesses. He is the one that told me about the white vinegar. He said get the cheap stuff from the dollar store, the cheaper the better because it is a mild acid, desolves the greases, fats but won’t hurt the pipes. So far he has been right.

Here is a picture of it… I thought about the old nylon idea, but was afraid that if it fell off, it would cause additional clogging in the pipe.

Ohhhh, You have an underground situation. Is that cast iron?
You don’t even know if there’s a P-trap involved.

If that were my washer waste set-up, Instead of continuously snaking the waste line, I’d design another way of getting the waste water to the main waste pipe. Or have a licensed plumber do it for you.

It shouldn’t be too hard with the main waste pipe being that low.

It’s the building drain running out to the sewer. I might try the vinegar idea. That’s certainly a lot less work than snaking the darn thing all the time.

Yea it’s cast iron, and based on “feel” while I’ve been snaking, I’m about 90% sure there is a p-trap under the concrete. The main waste pipe is right there too. This is pretty close to where it runs out of the house and to the street.

I perhaps wasn’t clear enough. Use the vinegar “after” you have had the building line cleaned out. It isn’t very expensive to have it done. There should be a plumbing clean out somewhere on the same line as the washing machine. In my particular house it is just outside the laundry room outside at ground level. This make a straight shot to the Main line; all the kitchen, laundry etc. feeds directly into the branch. The vinegar idea only works after you get the line cleaned to keep it clean.

I’ll bet that cast iron line is deteriorated so bad on the inside (as cast iron does deteriorate from the inside out), that the diameter of the inside is so thin that it’s restricting it’s flow.

As I said earlier, consider re-piping that particular waste line.

The only clean out that I’m aware of is directly under the bathrooms about 15 ft back into the house. This laundry drain is located between the cleanout and the sewer line, and is located pretty close to the exit from the home. At this point it is about 5 ft underground (and under a concrete porch slab outside).

I’ve thought of that and considered it too. It’s just not an option at this time unless there was absolutely no other choice, and the bi-monthly snaking no longer worked at all.

Hi Guys,

Mark, is the washer new? I had the same problem after installing a new
washer. The plumber told me that the new washers force the water out
at a faster rate. He heightend the drain pipe to about 5’ and the problem


This is a very true statement newer washing machine pumps produce a larger volume of water than the older ones did and many times I have had problems with an old 1-1/2 diameter stand pipe backing up with new washer installed. Most plumbers in new construction use 2 inch diameter stand pipes to accommodate the newer washers.

My guess would be it is time for replacement of the drain line. Grab hold of your wallet itsa gona cost:)

It’s about 5 or 6 yrs old.

The washing machine or the drain line???

The washing machine… The drain line is getting close to 40.

Mark the age of your washing machine would be about when the MFG started increasing the volume of their pumps or at least when I became aware of it.

A 40 year old drain line with no telling how much corrosion spells problems.

There surely is a P-trap as you stated and it would be virtually impossible to get a auger type cleanout tool large enough to do you any help past the trap.