First post on this site, long time Stack Exchange consumer for tech stuff, didn't realize there was a Home Improvement section!

I've got a GE washing machine that periodically will spray water out of the drain standpipe. The drain situation is pretty bad, the house came like this. It's way too high, the connection point (the 4 way fitting) is 6 feet off the ground and the open standpipe itself is not even 12" long. Not sure why it's been working OK at all, but it only seems to overflow occasionally. A couple more data points:

  1. I know that the standpipe is supposed to be 18" at least, but I'm not sure how much taller I could make it given the clearance to the (low) basement ceiling
  2. The manual for the washing machine actually says that it can pump up to 8 feet high

I just am sitting here scratching my head, trying to figure out what my options are. I suppose I could get a drain pump, and feed the washer into that, and then pump that out. I'd prefer to not have to do that (more complexity, electricity usage, etc). But do I have any other options?

Thanks so much.

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  • 1
    I'd extend the standpipe as close to 18" as possible and see how it works -- you'd still be under the 8' that the washer supports, and if it works, you've spent almost nothing. OTOH, if there's a lot of water draining from upstairs (say a bathtub draining), there may not be enough capacity in that 1-1/2" line to handle the washer.
    – TomG
    Oct 4, 2014 at 19:20

3 Answers 3


Yes, as @TomG says, take the standpipe up - but I'll modify 18" to "as far as the ceiling or the 8 foot limit allows", that's the least expensive first approach, and if it solves it, you are done. Get it right up inbetween the floor joists.

If a plumber was involved in the black Tee on the white PVC pipe at the top of the picture, the licensing board should hear about it. That thing is dead wrong - it's installed sideways (it's the wrong fitting for the location). I'd expect there might be venting issues with that connection, too.

If merely extending the standpipe does not do it, you need to clean up the lower mess to gain some height (and ensure adequate flow.) That might well involve a plumber (or some advanced DIY plumbing) and some expense, but it would not involve extra complexity and electricity use.

  • Thanks so much for the tips, all. I found a rubber coupling and some extra pipe and I extended it up as high as I could fit. I've got a bit more than 18" now. And as far as the black fitting at the top... yeah, don't get me started. When I bought the place, this stack was a mess. I cleaned it up. Then I had someone come in and do some work and that's how they left it. It's an old house with lots of "character" like this. So it fits. :( Anyway, I'll follow up again if the extension ends up not helping. Thanks!!! Oct 5, 2014 at 1:27
  • 2
    Following up. No overflow at all since extending the standpipe as high as I could go into the ceiling space. Seems to be a perfectly functional fix, in my book. Thanks all! Nov 17, 2014 at 15:53
  • Raising the washer on a small platform (e.g. with a drawer) might help compensate if you’re a foot short or so.
    – init_js
    Jan 23, 2023 at 2:11

Not a licensed plumber by any means but, what if he was to replace that black sideways abomination with a 4-way connector, similar to what's under it, but add a "pop valve" that would allow air into the line? Wouldn't that give him some better flow under a heavy load. Kind of bugs me that we don't see a vent pipe anywhere near that main stack.

  • 2
    The main stack may be a wet vent in this situation. Overflowing is likely due to volume of water and too short of a standpipe.
    – BMitch
    Oct 7, 2014 at 21:24

I,m a retired Plumber/Pipefitter. It's hard to tell for sure but I'm, thinking that black abs tee is a attempt at putting in a vent line , that 4inch cast iron is from the old days and is most likely a a lead / oakum pour joint . If it was working before could be you line is getting clog ,I make sure the trap was clean and 1 1/2: pipe to 4 inch also . If that doesn't work, its possible the 4 inch is slowly clotting up and can,t handle the volume when your machine dumps. Again this is hard to say without being there .Best wishes

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