"Understanding Your Home" by Building Inspector Mark Visser
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In newer homes the laundry room may be located in places other than the basement where it is more convenient, such as in the mud room adjacent to the garage, near the kitchen or upstairs near the bedrooms. If the laundry room is upstairs the washing machine should sit in a tray with raised edges. The tray and the floor drain connected to it, should be large enough to handle water from a potential washer overflow. This tray and drain will also take care of small leaks which can go undetected for a long period of time. Without a floor drain, undetected spilled water could create bad smells and mold infestation. Just like with all other plumbing fixtures make sure that the p-trap on the laundry tub drain is unobstructed.

Stackable washer dryer for
second floor laundry room

Laundry / Utility Room

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Laundry room. Utility room. Laundry chute

The laundry room is also known as the utility room simply because the laundry tub, washer and dryer are often located near the heating system (furnace, boiler) water heater, water meter, hydro or electrical distribution panel, telephone and cable access terminals. Ideally, the basement floor drain and sewer cleanout should be located in the same area.
In older homes the laundry room is usually located in the basement. The laundry room should have room for an ironing board and a drying area. For a more detailed laundry room "wish or should have" list, scroll down.
The basement laundry room in my own home was large enough to double as a washroom by adding a toilet and shower.
Before going on holidays turn off the water supply to the washing machine AND hot water tank. Believe me, things can go wrong when you are away from the house for any length of time. In my early days as a contractor I have seen and repaired a lot of water damage caused by a burst hot or cold water supply hose to the washing machine or failed hot water tank.

Typical size basement laundry/utility room for 40 year old home.
There was even room for a toilet and shower

The clothes dryer should be placed against an exterior wall or as close as possible to it. The shorter the vent to the outside the better. Long vents are ineffective in moving hot air (and lint that wasn't caught by the lint screen) to the outside. Do not use flexable vinyl ducting, they are a fire hazard. They are NOT made for venting dryers. Dryer vents made of sheet metal are a better choice.


We don't always have a choice about the location or size of the laundry room. Maybe you moved into an existing house and can not remodel due to space or financial restrictions. However, if you had a choice some of the following items could be on your laundry or laundry/utility room "wish list".
Laundry room
Finished walls and ceilings to hide plumbing supply and waste lines, exhaust and dryer venting as well as electrical wiring.
Tiled floor for easy cleaning.
A double laundry tub for hand washing a few items or to pre-soak soiled laundry overnight.
Adequate storage for all your laundry supplies for that uncluttered look.
Adequate task lighting. You need good lighting for spot cleaning, folding and ironing.
Laundry chute from the second floor to the laundry room would be nice but is not always structurally possible.
Countertop for folding clothes.
Ironing board that can be stored in a closet or one that is wall mounted.
Small table for sewing machine and sewing supplies. This will come in handy for minor tasks such as to hem a skirt, pair of slacks or sew on a button.
Clothes line, bar or drying rack for indoor drying.
NOTE. Indoor drying is suggested by many experts on the Internet. I don't think indoor drying is such a good idea unless done occasionally for a just few items. Why not? Read warning.
WARNING. Extensive indoor drying is not recommended. It will increase humidity levels significantly which could create mold problems.
Laundry/utility room.
A work bench with some shelving. It is very handy to have a place in the house where you can keep the basic tools to do minor home repairs.

There are always open flames in a utility room (furnace, boiler, water heater). NEVER store or use highly flammable products such as paint, paint strippers, cleaners, wood stains, lacquers, etc. in the utility room or furnace room.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) has released a report stating that clothes dryer fires account for an estimated 12,700 residential fires, 15 deaths and 400 injuries annually. The USFA attributes “Failure to clean” as the leading factor contributing to clothes dryer fires in residential buildings.

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