How to hook up your washing machine

Setting up plumbing for a washing machine install—even a new one—is a lot easier than you might think. Here’s how to decide if you’re up to it.
As much as they’ve become more complicated on the front, washing machines are still fairly simple in the back. All they ask of the homeowner is a source of hot and cold water, a proper place to put the drain pipe and a nearby 120V outlet. Keep in mind that if the outlet is closer than 1.6 metres to a sink, it needs to be the GFCI type—a ground-fault circuit interrupter to prevent shocks involving water/electricity.

How to hook up your washing machine

Replacement is easy

If you're swapping out an existing washing machine—and the previous one had no supply or drain problems—it’s likely that all of the right components are in place. Simply connect both water supply lines to the appropriate hot-cold sources. Avoid cross-threading or over-tightening on the plastic intake pipes; use channel locks to go about a half-turn past the hand-tight position. Replace the new drain line where the old one was, use the adjustable feet to make sure the machine is level, then plug it in. You’re ready to do a test run.

If you’re making changes

Say you have a new site for the washer, or are otherwise renovating in the area. Bear in mind that if hot/cold source pipes are not nearby, it may require complex plumbing that would almost surely require a professional. But, for example, a reasonably competent home plumber can easily insert two "T" outlets into exposed copper lines using compression fittings, which don’t require soldering.

Know the building codes

If you’re addressing drainage in a new way, be careful. There are normally three ways by which a washer can evacuate water to your home’s sewer: directly into a floor drain, or via a laundry sink or stand-pipe (a two-inch pipe that rises vertically from the drain, where the hook end of the rubber drain hose gets inserted). Each method has its own approved technique for avoiding the siphoning of already drained water back into the machine. The floor drain needs a backflow preventer, the laundry tub must have an adequate volume, and the stand-pipe must be within a narrow range of height. Your plumbing retailer can help with that information.

Old house? Be careful

Plumbing is relatively straightforward in newer homes, but the old ones can be a minefield of non-standard pipes and fittings. Seized and corroded valves are all but impossible for the non-professional to handle. If you encounter such irregularities, it's a pretty good indication that a licensed plumber should do the work.

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