Are Your Laundry Habits Destroying Your Pipes?

Many people with laundry machines in their basement give in to the temptation of using pipes to hang their clothes. After all, what solution could be simpler when you run out of available rack space?

A few coats and shirts certainly don’t weigh very much, so it may seem harmless to hang them there for a day or two. However, this unfortunate habit can get out of hand very quickly as your gas and water lines become a new form of permanent vertical storage. The negative consequences may not appear at first, but they can spell disaster when they finally develop.

The Hidden Dangers of Hanging Clothes on Pipes

Even prudent homeowners may fail to predict how hanging clothes can actually harm their plumbing lines. The answers are not necessarily obvious, since the pipes appear to be strong and fastened tightly in place. There are several “hidden” risks associated with this bad laundry habit, including pipe corrosion, joint warping and flow interruption.

Metal Corrosion: Copper is a relatively cheap, flexible and sturdy material, which is why it’s the primary material for many pipes and components. However, copper reacts with other metals through direct contact. You won’t see any sparks flying, but the reaction continues as long as the hanger rests on the line. This corrosion compromises the integrity of the pipe over time, forcing you to replace it.

Warped Joints: The pipes running along the basement ceiling are connected to other line segments, appliances and fixtures through a system of joints. The extra weight of laundry pulls down on the pipe, which transfers stress to the nearest joint on either end. Over the course of weeks or months, this stress warps the material around the joint and creates an opening for water to leak out.

Flow Interruption: If you trace the pipes that carry water throughout your home, you’ll be amazed at how far it has to travel. Consistent flow is mostly due to gravity and momentum, which is why many lines are installed at a slight incline. Even minor bending of the pipe can interrupt this, allowing debris to accumulate and eventually cause a clog.

Don’t Give In, There are Other Ways!

All of the pipes in your home are vital to the safe and reliable performance of the entire system, whether they carry hot water, natural gas or sewage. Damage to these pipes can cause a catastrophic flood in your basement or allow toxic fumes to escape into air. Misusing them exposes your home to the risk of a fire, water damage and biological hazards.

If you find your running out of space for clothes, then it may be time to install a few rods to do the job. You can mount them on the walls or on the rafters if space is extremely limited. Inform everyone living in the home of the risks of hanging laundry and pipes to knock out bad laundry habits before they cause a disaster.