Overflowing Laundry Tub

This is what happens every time we do a load of laundry.

Utility sink overflows

The washer discharges into the sink, which can’t drain fast enough to keep up with the washer.

This thing couldn’t drain fast enough to keep up with ANYTHING.

Eventually, it will drain, but on at least one occasion, it has overflowed on us when we got too aggressive about doing a lot of laundry. Luckily, aggressive laundering isn’t much of a problem for us. We’re always willing to take an excuse to do less laundry.

But still… problem right here.

We cleaned the p-trap and snaked the drain already, but it’s still a problem. Not sure what we’re gonna do about it. Probably just live with it.

11 thoughts on “Overflowing Laundry Tub”

  1. I’ve had a similar problem… but I don’t have a sink for it to overflow in. I’m having a plumber come look soon, but lots of people have told me it’s because it’s an older house with smaller pipes that can’t handle as much.

  2. The exact same thing happened to me–snaking the wall drain worked for me. My p-trap was clear but I had an obstruction four feet down the line. I got a thin snake from the grocery store, fed it in as far as it would go, then hooked it to my cordless drill and spun it!


    I periodically run hot water down the sink and vinegar through the washing machine to reduce the soap build up. Good luck!

  3. Hopefully this isn’t your problem… but when we had a plumber move our laundry sink drain he found that the bottom of the P trap under the concrete had completely disintegrated and our water was basically draining into the ground instead of into the sewer. The plumber said he sees this all the time on houses as old as ours (1920).

  4. Interesting… it may be something as simple as correcting the vent. If the sink isn’t vented, you could either add a burp cap or an air break like for a dishwasher or tie it into an existing vent line. If you do have it vented, then the vent may be clogged. If your vent is good, you may need to up your drain diameter size by 1/2″.

  5. @Marla – hopefully it’s not a pipe size issue – it’s a 2″ (or so) pipe, which ought to be plenty if it’s not clogged.

    @Heather – snaking didn’t work for us, although because of some old 90’s in the line, we couldn’t get as deep as we would have liked.

    @Mike – hadn’t thought of that. That could definitely be part of our problem… our p-trap is above the basement slab, but who knows what the line looks like under the slab.

    @John – hmmm, venting. I wouldn’t think it would be a venting problem – a toilet and sink nearby that use the same vent stack both work fine… but the vent could definitely be clogged.

  6. oi… I feel your pain. The same thing happens periodically to me when I do laundry. Like you, we’ve done the whole cleaning out the trap and snaking out the drain but continue to have problems. My guesses include improper venting (our kitchen sink gurgles and glugs when laundry is done in the basement) and/or maybe roots have broken through the old pipes.

    My husband and I are going to get a plumber to come in with a camera to see what’s going on. I’m really worried that the pipes are crack and we’ll have to excavate the concrete floor.. yikes. 😛

  7. This used to happen at my FIL’s house all the time– same deal, washing machine draining into a utility sink. Though the issue we would run into was often from lint or string being sucked through his old top loading machine and clogging up the drain. If you have a ridiculous amount of 90’s in your line, those could be causing your problem, slowing the drainage speed down as well as acting as catches for any detritus that may end up down there.

    Hope you get it figured out!

  8. This actually happened to us recently, but after every time we showered. Water where it isn’t supposed to be scares me, so we called the plumber. Still haven’t gotten the bill yet. That may scare me more 🙁
    Hope your situation isn’t serious.

  9. Have you tried draino or some sort of gel that will eat away all the crap built up in the drains? Not a permenant fix but it might help for a few m

  10. First of all, replace every steel pipe in your house!
    A house that old with steel water and waste pipes will have at best 25% flow capacity because the pipes are so rusted.
    You could do copper water lines, but the metal thieves will get your investement before you know it.
    I recommend you replace all your waste pipes with PVC. And all your water pipes with one of the new classes of plastic snap fitting designs.
    Then recycle all those steel pipes so someone can have a new cyclone fence.
    Anything short of this remedy will result in a long slow battle that you will ultimately lose.

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