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Question DetailsAsked on 5/14/2015

How to get to water shutoff behind stacked washer/dryer in small space. Needs creativity. In Chicago. Thank you.

Hello. I have a brand new stacked Dryer on Washer in a brand new building. The water supply is located behind the machines. The whole thing is in a very small space. So, I can see the shutoff valves, but if something were to happen (leak), I cannot get to the valves to shut them off. This would involve moving the machines, perhaps changing the stock hoses, maybe installing a shutoff device, and ensuring it works. Or, while it sounds silly, fabricating some "device" to reach the valves from a distance to turn them off. I could draw this, but it's hard to describe. In any case, I don't know if this is plumbing, handiwork, craftwork, or something else. Thank you.

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Since you say you can see the valves, assuming you could physically reach to the shutoff faucets with an extension tool (not too tight behind appliances), I would say (assuming room allows) have a plumber install lever operated ball valves to replace the probably hose bib (multiturn round handle faucet) you likely have - look like this and only turn 1/4 turn (90 degrees rotation) to shut off -

Then have him make an extension handle to reach it - like a custom bent piece of copper pipe bent or with open-end oversize fitting to make a "grip" on the end that will wrap around or fit over the end of the handle to move it the 90 degrees to shut it off and turn it back on. May require an open end on one end to slip onto end of handle to push one way, 180 degree bend on other end to pull the other way. Drill a hole in the end to hang on a nail nearby for ready access. Be sure to put child plugs in any electric outlets back there so you can't accidentally get zapped working in the tight quarters.

Another solution, more expensive, would be to relocate the faucets so they are still within reach of a normal washing machine hose, but off to the side so you can reach them. Local code restrictions on distance from faucet to electric outlets might limit your options there - some areas worry about that, some not.

More expensive solution - have him install electric emergency shutoff system, which is connected to a water alarm so it automatically shuts off the valves if there is flooding, and best type also shuts them whenever the washing machine is not drawing power. Will also shut them off if power fails or you unplug the shutoff valve unit, so if electric outlet is accessible and would not be getting wet if there is a leak or if you shut off the main box breaker that would make a quick disconnect point. Look like this typically -

Obviously, since the automatic shutoff valve unit costs a couple hundred $ versus about $10 each for the ball valves or relocating the faucets your total installed cost would go from likely $200-350 plus or minus to $350-450 range probably - though the automatic shutoff is something you can take with you when you move if you desire - goes on the washing machine side of the existing valves, does not replace them though might require relocating one to fit the incoming pipe spacing on the unit correctly.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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