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Question DetailsAsked on 9/10/2013

Is a typical 1980s-built house sturdy enough to have the washer and dryer on the 2nd floor/upstairs?

This colonial house has washer and dryer in basement. I want to move them upstairs (to a currently empty extra bedroom) instead of going down 2 flights to do laundry. My husband said that the weight and the shaking will weaken the floor. Is that true? Any way to shore up the floor so that it is sturdy enough to hold the washer and dryer?

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3 Answers


Almost always, yes. If the subfloor is 3/4" thick or you have 3/4" thick laminate or hardwood flooring, then you are fine - a full washer (the heavy unit) only weighs about 400# full - about the same as 2-3 people standing talking. If you are concerned, then put a 4' square or larger piece of 1/2" or thicker plywood or particle board under them, but I certainly would not give it a second thought unless you can't figure out how thick your subfloor is (usually 3/4" plywood or OSB). Severe shaking will destroy the washer long before it does more damage to the house than denting drywall and maybe tearing the hoses loose or breaking the pipes.

Your big concern is getting water, power, gas (if gas dryer), and sewer pipes to them and running the dryer exhaust duct - all that is likely to run you around $500-1000 if backed up against a bathroom wall with the necessary water and sewer pipes in it, to $1000-2500 range or more if have to run in utilities from non-adjacent rooms or floors, including the repair of drywall and repainting to close up the holes necessary to run the pipes and wires.

One other consideration, not to discourage you as upstairs wash center is a good selling point, though putting it in a bedroom rather than a utility closet is likely to really detract from the home value when you go to sell, is if you ever have an overflow or broken hose or pump you will get water damage down through the house instead of just in the basement floor area - that is a main reason they are commonly put in basements.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD


LCD's advice is spot on but I would like to add that you should include in the install if you decide to loose a bedroom that a pan made for under the washer be included (to catch leaks) and a water feed valve for washers with a single lever shut off for both hot and cold be used. If you shut the valve off between uses and also us stainless steel hoses instead of the ceaper rubber hoses you will lessen the chance of leaks.

While most laundry is generated on the bedroom levels you might look around on the first floor (near the kitchen possibly) because the plumbing work would be cheaper and many find that it is more convenient that the second floor. You can multi task while wash is being done and do not have to listen for the washer or dryer's end of cycle.

It will hurt the resale value of your home to loose a bedroom!

Answered 7 years ago by ContractorDon


As usual, Contractor Don made some excellent points. I spaced on the pans - these are fairly new items, cost only about $25-50, and are excellent for use under washers, dishwashers, and hot water heaters (only the metal ones are rated for use under furnaces). For a washer, be sure to get one that holes at least 25 gallons. If you use a pan, it should still connect to a drain if at all possible because it you get a leak in a valve or hose it will leak till it fills the pan and overflows and keep flowing. There are drawbacks to pan drains though - to avoid getting sewer gas coming up into them they have to have a trap, which due to lack of use can dry out, so you either have to pour some water down it periodically to replenish the evaporated water or install a drip system to keep the pan full (required in some jurisdictions), which is a hassle and one more thing to fail.

Don mentioned a unitary shutoff valve for when you are not using the washer - looks like this -

another alternative is an electric water shutoff - looks like this -

it mounts to the existing faucets (or can be plumbed into them) and the hoses from the washer plug into it, and it opens the electric valves only when the washer is drawing power. This does NOT protect against a leak that occurs when the washer is running, but does protect against a washer or hose leak when it is off. The pricier ones (about $150) also have a water alarm that sounds an alarm and shuts off the valves if the alarm (on the floor or in drain pan) activates, so this combined with a pan (to protect against a washing machine leak that might drain out 25 gallons of water from a full tub even after the vales are closed) is probably your best protection, probably one step better than building a drain pan with drain to the sewer under your entire washer area, as it actually shuts off the water flow. It also can be installed by you without a plumber for many models, so probably about equal total installed cost to the unitary shutoff valve Don talked about, which as far as I have seen them has to be plumbed in by a plumber.

Some of these can also be installed on dishwashers.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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