10286 Rama Ct Laundry Room
Last Modified Sep 3, 2016
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Original Condition

When I first bought the house, the laundry room was a disaster. There were significant issues inside two of the walls, as well as under the floor. I say under the floor because this room was clearly not in the original blueprins, it was an addition. But now that I have pictures from the original owner, it was in the original framing. It is cantilevered over the foundation sill, jutting into the garage. This is the root of many of the issues; I don't believe this room was part of the original drawings. It appears it was added by the builder, and done without proper planning for plumbing. Its issues were aggravated by some foolishness on the part of the previous homeowner plus the lack of winterization.

The previous homeowner added a utility sink in the garage, and to do so he cut a notch out of the foundation and the sill plate. That might not have been so bad if he had not also left it unsealed, and hence created an entrance for mice. Of course, given that the feed pipes and waste line were not insulated or heated, they all burst in the winter. And as near as I can tell, it's been that way for many years.

In addition, he ran Schedule 40 PVC for the sprinkler system. I'm not sure which part of "NOT FOR PRESSURIZED APPLICATIONS" written down the side of the PVC pipe he didn't understand. At any rate, that was all cracked in the garage as well.

He also terminated the dryer duct with a piece of pantyhose as the lint filter in the garage, on the end of dryer flex duct. Given that there was a gas line in the laundry room, I have a bad feeling he was ducting burned gas fumes into the garage.

There was a pipe heater installed on the feed water pipes for the washing machine where they run between the joists, in the area that overhangs the garage slab. It was installed incorrectly, and given that there is no outlet nearby, I've no idea how it was plugged in (extension cord?). You're not supposed to coil the pipe heater around the pipe, but he did. You're also not supposed to use the same heater for two runs, but he did that too. The warnings are very clear on the front of the package. These things are not expensive, I don't know why he didn't buy two and run them correctly. Of course he had to do this because the builder's plumbing was not planned.

At some point,a significant part of the laundry room floor joists were left open to the garage, but had a piece of plywood nailed (though barely) to the bottom. This in essence was a giant mouse condominium, and they moved right in.

He left a gaping hole in the subfloor (hidden by the underlayment), which I believe was for the original dryer duct that was routed correctly into the basement and out the rim joist. He cut a new hole in the base plate of the wall for his dryer duct. But he also cut out a huge part of the drywall _and_ the sheathing from the garage side, and never replaced either. He then vented his dryer into the garage, instead of into the vent piping that was already in place. The dryer vent elbow was a crumpled mess. It appears he chose to destroy the wall to accomodate a $3.00 dryer duct and to avoid having to redo the hackery for the garage utility sink and the sprinkler system piping that burst.

The trap for the washing machine standpipe was inside the wall, and was cracked. The drywall that covered it was water damaged, as was the underlayment and part of the subfloor. So presumably this happened long before the bank took possession; they would have no reason to use the washing machine standpipe, and the water damage was more significant than what would have been caused by just water from the trap freezing and emptying once.

The underlayment was stapled down with narrow crown staples. This isn't the correct fastener for underlayment; nearly all of the staples went right through the underlayment and were not holding it down at all. I pulled it all up quite easily with just my hands, no pry bar necessary.

The funny thing about all of this... given all of the other work needed on the house, I might not have found some of these problems until the first time I tried to do laundry (and found that the wastewater dumped out into the wall through the large crack in the trap). However, I chose to buy the largest consumer washing machine and dryer on the market (because I hate doing laundry), and the washing machine has an irreversible door. Further, the gas pipe sticking out of the floor was going to be in my way, and the existing utility tub and cabinet were too wide to accomodate the new machines. So I needed to do a little reconfiguration to accomodate the new machines (swap the location and make more space), and I wanted to address the trashed dryer duct setup. As I started into things, I realized that most of the plumbing needed to be completely redone, and the more stuff I removed, the more I discovered that needed to be replaced and redone.

My Fixes

I tore out the lower half of two walls, at the gypsum board joint. I replaced it with 1/2" hardwood plywood, and covered it with FRP panels. I covered the joint with solid oak chair rail. Of course, most of this part isn't visible since it's behind the machines and utility sink cabinet.

I patched the hole in the subfloor with 3/4" hardwood plywood. I skimcoated parts of the subfloor with Henry 547. I replaced the underlayment with new plywood underlayment, stapled down with 7/16" crown staples using my pneumatic construction stapler. I covered the floor with 18" vinyl tiles, grouted with vinyl tile grout. I replaced the baseboard with solid oak baseboard with stain and two coats of polyurethane. I did not install shoe moulding, because space is at an extreme premium in ths room. I replaced the door casing with solid oak door casing. I painted the room with Olympic ONE in Show Storm White.

Mechanicals and plumbing... I redid the washing machine source water pipes and standpipe, terminating them in a new Oatey washing machine outlet box with new valves with hammer arrestors. I moved the standpipe trap to the basement, and used a trap with a built-in cleanout so I can easily deal with clogs should they ever occur. It also won't freeze since it's now in heated space. I ran new copper for the washing machine feeds, and properly installed new pipe heaters on them. They are plugged in to a new GFCI outlet I installed in the basement. I also added a GFCI outlet in the laundry room on this circuit, and plugged the washing machine into it. The dryer is on a separate circuit. I installed a DB-480 DryerBox from dryerbox.com, and ran the dryer duct downward and through the corner of the basement. I removed the old gas line and ran new black iron to the new location inside the DryerBox. I used the long-sweep ells from dryerbox.com for the dryer duct where possible. I used a Premium Flush-mount Metal Dryer Wall Vent from dryerwallvent.com because it has less airflow restriction than any other vent on the market and allows easy cleaning of the dryer ductwork because it has no grill and no hood. I also used the DryerFlex hose from dryerflex.com, since it's a better flex hose than anything available locally. All of these products lead to a very efficient and maintainable dryer duct.

I removed the plumbing for the garage utility sink, but I left the option of adding it back later by installing tees and stubs using SharkBite connectors. I can add DWV for a garage utility sink if desired by extending where I now have a 3" wye with cleanout trap.

Electrical... I added a new 20A circuit for the washing machine and pipe heaters. I used tamper-proof GFCI outlets in the laundry room, and a GFCI outlet in the basement for the pipe heaters. I replaced the light switch in the laundry room with an occupancy-sensing light switch, since I will usually have my hands full when I enter the laundry room.


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July 7, 2013

July 23, 2013

August 30, 2016

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