Quick question: loose leaking pipe triage
February 4, 2018 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Can you help us decide how serious of a problem this is? Plumber now or wait until Monday?

Apologies in advance for this extremely unclear question. We are new to this whole homeownership thing and lots of stuff in the basement is kind of a mystery to us. I was just in the basement examining the items in our freezer, when I heard a gurgling noise and saw water literally pouring out of a little plastic pipe behind our washer/dryer. To be clear - the pipes themselves did not look to be damaged, but the plastic pipe seems to be loose. We're not sure where the plastic pipe should go. Is it supposed to attach to black pipe thing on the other end of the middle device? Do any of you know what this entire setup is? The wooden board that is behind the washer and dryer seems to be quite soaked in one area as you can see, but there is no other water apparent in the basement. I'm trying to figure out whether this is the kind of thing which needs a plumber's immediate attention, what immediate things we should do to minimize harm. For now, we have put a bucket underneath the plastic pipe to catch water. Is it ok to just keep using our water in the house like normal? I don't think this is a case of burst pipes as it has been quite warm lately. Could this have some thing to do with storm water drainage? There was some rain. Again, just please ask me any information you need - my problem is that I don't even know what questions to ask.
posted by peacheater to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Someone may come in to contradict me but that looks like it drains the gray water (the 'used' water) from your washing machine. Was your washing machine running, or had it been running recently, when you caught the leak? Is it running constantly or has it stopped?

It's hard to tell what's going on with the black tubing, where is it connected? It could be that the clear tube is supposed to drain into the black tubing. Our washing machine drains through some tubing that loosely fits into a standing open pipe that sticks up from the floor and once came loose when I'd moved the washing machine to get something that had fallen behind it and didn't realise it had been pulled out.

In any case, the bucket should be fine if you're able to check on it regularly. If you know where the main water shutoff is, you can turn it off if you need to leave the house for any length of time, just in case.
posted by cilantro at 1:37 PM on February 4, 2018

Best answer: That whole thing is the water supply/drain for the washing machine.

The little clear plastic pipe? Can you see where the other end goes? Was the washing machine running?

I would probably just stuff the little clear pipe down into the hole that the the black corrugated pipe goes into. Maybe use a couple of twist ties/zip ties to make sure it stays in place. The black corrugated pipe is the washing machine drain.
posted by gregr at 1:37 PM on February 4, 2018

I think that's probably a small drain pipe for something, what's the other end connected to? In any event the simplest fix - if you can fit it in - is to shove the plastic pipe a bit of the way down into the hole where that black hose on the right is connected to. The black hose is the drain for your laundry, and probably just fits into that pipe, it's not attached or anything. So the place where the black hose is draining is your house drain, if you can get the plastic pipe in there too it'll just drain out into the sewer or septic, whatever you have.

So, immediate things: It's ok to keep using your water, try to get that pipe into the drain, trace it back to it's source and see what it's connected to. My money would be on either a air conditioner drain (wrong season), a water softener, or something that auto-defrosts and needs to let a little water out here and there.

If you can't fit it in the hole with the black hose, you can take the black hose out as long as you're not actively using the laundry. It'll probably come right out and have hook like a J on the end.
posted by true at 1:37 PM on February 4, 2018

That’s exactly how my air conditioner condensation line is set up. Clear tube and all. It drains into the same area as the washer drain.

I’m guessing you have an air conditioner and/ or a heat pump. Let it drain into the washer drain if it will. No bucket needed.
posted by The Deej at 1:46 PM on February 4, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! You were all absolutely right. My husband managed to catch hold of our plumber on the phone (on Sunday evening - impressive!) and he quickly told us to do what you have been saying too - to put the plastic pipe into where the black pipe is draining. We do have a freezer down there that auto defrosts - not sure if the pipe is related to that or to the whole house humidifier. In any case the plumber says that the little plastic pipe is supposed to drain out so I guess we're good for now - going to wait till the wood dries out a bit and reevaluate.
posted by peacheater at 1:47 PM on February 4, 2018

Yes, the drain pipe just got knocked out of the drain somehow. Trace where the pipe goes - any defrosting drain on the same floor is unlikely to be high enough to drain there. It’s probably something on the floor above it.

Set up any fans you have to blow directly on the wet stuff to help dry it faster.
posted by cjdavis at 5:08 PM on February 4, 2018

If your washer didn't come with the house, whoever installed it probably didn't know to put the little plastic pipe in the drain because it's not a standard thing. Or the drain from the previous washing machine might have had a special place to hook it up (all those hoses except that one would go with the washing machine)

Stuff it in there and use a wire tie or something to fasten it to the big black pipe so it stays in place.
posted by yohko at 8:58 PM on February 4, 2018

The little clear plastic pipe is probably a condensate drain from your furnace/ ac. If you trace it back far enough, there will be a small pump that cycles when enough water accumulates. The good news is that if it leaks, the water is perfectly clean. As noted above, stuff it back down the drain and zip tie it to the washer house to prevent future dislodgement.
posted by cosmicbandito at 4:40 AM on February 5, 2018

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