Why are soap suds coming up out of my washing machine drain pipe?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by red13, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. red13

    red13 New Member

    Mar 5, 2005
    I hope someone here might be able to help me. I have lived in my house for almost 3 years now and it is a new house. Within the last 2-3 weeks soap suds have begun backing up out of the washing machine drain in the wall. You can run just water and there will be no drain problem at all. We have tried different brands of soap and different amounts. The overflow of suds occurs when the machine is pumping out any remaining water before the rinse cycle and spin cycle. When it pumps mainly water it flows fine, but when it pumps very little water and mostly air is when the suds come up. I called several appliance repairmen that I know and they all thought that the drain line might be clogged. My plummer came out and ran a 6' snake through the drain and a 75' through the cleanout. He said he really didn't feel anything and thought it was clear. Low and behold it foamed up again. I traced the roof vent line for the washing machine and ran the water from the hose down the vent (don't know if that was bad to do or not, but no leaks in the vent). It drained fine, so I do not think it was clogged. Ran the machine again and suds came out. I cut the sheet rock and found that I have a 2" drain line about 24" long from the top of the drain to the bottom of the p-trap. From the p-trap it angles up and over to a 2" vertical pipe. At this connection there is a 1-1/2" vent above the fitting and a 2" drain pipe below the fitting that goes down into the slab. About 4" below this fitting there is a laundry room wall cleanout. I estimate the length of the vent pipe to be about 24' to the roof. with a 45 degree fitting to go around a rafter at about 10'. I could lower the p-trap to be around 34" long, but I would have to put the cleanout above the p-trap level. Would that be bad to do and do you think by adding 8" to 10" of length might solve the suds problem? The one thing that has bothered both the plumber and myself is that this happened all the time at my last house (which was also a new house) but never at the house we rented before that. I was concerned when we moved into this house but I did not have a problem till now. I will try and insert a picture here but if it doesn't work, I can email a picture of the pipes if that will help. If its not the plumbing, then does anyone know a good appliance repair website that may know what is wrong with my washing machine?

    Thanks in advance.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 21, 2010
  2. Plumber2000

    Plumber2000 Plumber

    Jan 13, 2005
    Eugene, Oregon
    You can try the additional 8" to 10" added to the riser, if that don't work that I have no clues.
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  4. Bob's HandyGuy

    Bob's HandyGuy Senior Member

    Sep 10, 2004
    I'm wondering why, after 3 years, this problem began. I know that water temperature affects its suds forming ability. Did someone change the rinse temp? Did you experiment with different rinse water temps? Also, on a Whirlpool, a water spray accompanies the spin cycle. This would add water to remaining suds. Do you have this feature and is it working? It seems the suds do not have the weight to displace the trap water. Maybe you could put a reducer atop the standpipe so that suds will have more force behind them.
  5. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Aug 17, 2004
    Bothell, Washington
    I had a repair once where the 3" main waste line had fallen over time and was sagging. When I restrapped the line with grade, the problem with soap suds went a way.
  6. red13

    red13 New Member

    Mar 5, 2005
    More information

    Thanks all, the washer is a 10 year old Amana stainless series. I replaced the motor 5 months ago, but it did not cause any foam up. As far as settings go, it only has the three basic temp settings and typical wash cycles. I called the local Maytag shop, and they seem to think it can only be the lines. I checked on the pipe measurements and they appear to be within code, but code alway work?

    I appreciate all your input.
  7. eatspam

    eatspam New Member

    Mar 21, 2005
    ok, this is really weird - i am having the same exact problem. I just moved into this house abouyt a month ago. No signs of previous leaking by the washer drain. The Amana (with stainless tub) works fine and expels all the water after the wash and rinse cycle but just when the spin cycle starts, it seems to create a large amount of bubbles in the drain and they back up.
    I have checked the vent, snaked the drain (25' snake - no clogs that I could detect), and have runs stumped several plumbers and washer repairmen.

    A question to the original poster - if you run the washer with no clothes and no soap, is there soap suds in the water during the wash and rinse cycle? There is in mine, not a lot, but some. That seems odd. I was told by one repairman that maybe the washer has built up some soap residue or maybe some other type of soap was accidental washed or spilled in the machine and that is causing it. I am now running several loads through it with no soap and no clothes to see if i can 'cleanse' the machine. i am also going to try switching detergents. I have a plumber coming out tomorrow (unreleated problem) and he said he would add a short extension (maybe 6") to the drain pipe. i am also going to try calling Amana tomorrow.

    Any other suggestion?
  8. red13

    red13 New Member

    Mar 5, 2005
    Eatspam, no, my washer does not create suds with water only. After stumping my plumber, 3 appliance parts places and 4 appliance repairmen (including the regional Maytag guy) I dug deep into the Amana web site and found a possible solution. For around $3.50 I found that if you buy Maytag Part #40008101 it may very well fix the problem. It is a standpipe adapter. They must not be to common. The appliance repair guy that I always use had never heard of one even though he did have it in stock when I gave him the part number. Basically it is a piece of rubber that fits into the top of the drainpipe. It has tapered rings around it that have slots that alternate every other ring (kind of like the way you place piston rings on an engine) that still let air vent out.

    I've used it for a week now and was going to wait another before I posted.
    So far, each time I run the washer I get maybe enough suds out of the top to fill half a teaspoon. My plumber checked our local code and said we can still add a few inches to the pipe and maybe smooth out some of the curves, but if the $3.50 piece works this well then I am gonna let stay.

    I still have to wonder that the builder may have messed something up somewhere though. After all, the first time we ran the washer in this new house, water came out from under the toilets and back up in the bath tubs and shower. They some how forgot to put a cap on the sewer cleanout at the sidewalk (local restriction) and placed a sprinkler valve box cover on top of the hole. The water line was also pinched in the slab for my rear hose bib. If you need more info on the part, let me know.
  9. eatspam

    eatspam New Member

    Mar 21, 2005
    Update: I took the opposite approach. I had a friend who recently 'upgraded' his washingmachine and had his old working one in his garage. I swapped our nice amana with an old stinky maytag and low and behold (although just two loads so far) - no suds. Could this really be an amana problem and not plumbing. Looks that way on my end (so far atleast).
  10. Pammie

    Pammie New Member

    Aug 21, 2010
    I realize that this is an older thread, but I have the same problem! The irony is that my washer is ALSO an Amana stainless tub model. We had no problems when it was draining into a utility tub. However, when we updated our laundy room, we had an outlet box put in. Now we have suds coming out of the box, but only when the washer pumps as it rinses andspins. Is there anyone out there who has solved this problem? Is it the washer? I hate to buy a new washer and have the same problem!
  11. Pammie

    Pammie New Member

    Aug 21, 2010
    Did you ever solve this problem? I have an Amana stainless steel tub. We just put an outlet box in for draining and there are suds everywhere during the rinse/spin cycle! HELP!
  12. wondering

    wondering Member

    Dec 10, 2006
    It isn't because you have an Amana washer. My sister had one for 12 years and never had a problem. You could switch to an HE detergent and that should help solve your problem with less suds.

    I had this same problem 20 years ago with a Maytag washer. Never a problem unless you did use too much soap and it would run out either while doing the spray rinse or during the drain after the rinse. Suds was just backed up in the standpipe and when the pump kicked on to drain the suds would overflow into the floor till the water flushed the pipe out.

    Asked the appliance guy about it and he said Yeah that he sees that sometimes and the way he fixed it was to put either black tape or duct tape around the washer pipe and the standpipe this way the suds couldnt get out. I know the plumbers will not agree with this but it worked fine for years after doing that with no problems at all, and no more suds in the floor.

    I now have a front load machine with the drainline that has the grooves around the end of the pipe so it pretty much seals itself around the inside of the standpipe, but with those machines you use less soap and the HE type, plus there is way less water. Hope this helps.
  13. Luann

    Luann New Member

    Oct 24, 2010
    Amana Stainless here too!

    I used a 4 inch paint roller and put it into the standpipe and put the hose through it creating a nice tight fit. No more soap suds coming up at the end of the spin cycle. I've heard that you can get a compression fitting that does the same thing. I kind of like the paint roller look!!!

    Hope that is useful!

    KULTULZ Jack of all trades, Master of none

    Nov 13, 2006
    Maybe this will help?

    Washing Machine Conn.jpg
  15. justhinkin

    justhinkin New Member

    May 11, 2012
    Southern California
    Three theories of suds in the drain -

    I think this problem persists, for many people.
    My mom's machine is doing it right now.
    The plumber couldn't fix it, but he put on the gray rubber collar,
    which reduced the outflow by 80-90%, but it still needs to be wrapped with a towel.
    I like KULTULZ's example, the almost-sealed fitting and the smooth black hose.
    I bet Luann's paint roller works pretty well too.
    But I just want people (including washer mfrs) to start thinking about how to prevent suds generation in the drain
    instead of trying to seal it in, which isn't quite working in my case.
    The machine usually doesn't make suds inside; it's carefully designed not to.
    "Inside" would mean before the drain pump, assuming there is one.

    The pump might well make suds in the drain hose when it over-runs and sucks air
    and pushes bubbles thru the soapy water still standing in the ascending part of the drain hose.
    I guess then a smaller diameter of drain-hose might help. (theory1)
    The black one shown in the KULTULZ photo is definitely smaller than the big white corrugated hose I've got now.

    I'm wondering whether my corrugations make suds when the discharge is running fast. (theory2)
    KULTULZ's black hose would be smooth inside.

    I'm wondering if the exact angle of the hose end in the mouth of the drain standpipe matters - a flying
    arc of water splashing into soapy water below might entrain lots of air, making excess suds. (theory3)
    In K's photo the tip of that black hose, inside the standpipe, might be angled against the left wall by the springiness of its 180-degree bend.
    I think that might help; the water stream would be hugging the pipe wall instead of plunging headlong into the soapy water below.

    All these things can change without being noticed any time the machine is moved or serviced.
    The fixes which would help most are different depending on which of these 3 theories is right.
    It seems like a messed up design situation.
    Last edited: May 11, 2012
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