Looking at the problems associated with using a washing machine in a garage where the temperature in winter can drop below freezing
Many washing machines can be found in a garage – including my own. Sometimes it’s just necessary. In our case (as in most cases) we would have no room for a dishwasher in our kitchen if we didn’t put our washer in the garage.
However, a garage is not a good place to install a washing machine. There are several downsides to doing so. Here are the main disadvantages involved which are explained in more detail later on –
- Condensation which can damage parts
- Faults can go undetected and cause more damage
- Difficult to plumb in properly
- Extremes of temperature
Garages can suffer from a lack of ventilation & cold temperatures in winter. When the temperature is cold, an appliance such as a washing machine creates heat & steam when in use, and this moist air can condense on the cold walls and windows, or even on the appliance itself (or other appliances close by such as a freezer).
Condensation can in extreme cases damage pcbs and motors or can simply cause black mould or rust. If possible try to mitigate condensation by having a window open when the washing machine is on when temperatures are cold. Personally I have had a large extractor fan installed in mine.
Faults can go undetected or can cause more damage
If your washing machine started to make an unusual noise whilst washing, or exhibited strange behaviour you would be in a position to consider getting it looked at. If you are never around when the machine is operating you may miss warning signs of a problem that should be looked into before it gets too bad.
An example of this would be if the washing machine started intermittently making a noise on spin like a small chain being dragged round. The noise could come and go just a few times during spin but it could represent a coin that’s trapped between the drum and the plastic outer tub. If caught in time this can often be removed but if left it’s possible for the coin to eventually get punched right through the outer tub and completely write off most washing machines.
Washing machines can also catch fire: Running a washing machine (tumble dryer or dishwasher) unattended should always be avoided if possible due to risk of fire, flood or just a fault. Always fit smoke alarms close to unattended washing machines, preferably ones that link up to others in the house. I have 3 linked smoke alarms. One in my garage, one in the lounge and one at the bottom of my stairs. If any go off, they all go off. So I will hear if the one in my garage is triggered even if I’m upstairs in the house. Is it safe to leave the washing machine on while I’m out or in bed?
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Difficult to plumb in properly
Free standing garages built slightly away from the main house are unlikely to have plumbing available. If you want to provide plumbing to a garage make sure the inlet pipes are well insulated against the cold. Also, make sure you don’t plumb the washing machine into the surface water drain, which is illegal and causes environmental damage. This is very easily done without realising as if the garage has guttering which runs into the surface water drain then it’s easy for people to think it’s an ideal place to let the washing machine drain into but it’s not – Is your washing machine or dishwasher connected to the plumbing properly? Are you sure?
Extremes of temperature
Garages often get very hot in summer and very cold in winter. Extremes of temperature aren’t ideal for washing machines. If it’s particularly hot, and especially if running consecutive loads, it’s possible for things to over heat.
When it gets particularly cold the water pipes can freeze up or the water inside the fill hose could freeze up. I have in the past been called to repair washing machines that have suffered damage through freezing. I remember one particular case where the water inside the water valve froze, it expanded and cracked the plastic water valve. When the customer used the washing machine after it had thawed out water sprayed from the small crack and shorted out the electrics. The washing machine was soaked through everywhere inside and had to be scrapped.
My own washing machine has been in our garage for 12 years. Several years ago when we had a particularly severe cold snap we had a flood. The water inside the water pipes and tap to the washing machine froze and one of the taps actually came off the plumbing pipe. When it thawed, the garage flooded badly.
We later had another incident where it stopped filling and displayed an error code during a less severe cold spell. We have an oil-filled radiator heater so I set to its frost protection setting and left it on for a few hours. Fortunately the washing machine resumed working with no harm done. When the temperature falls below freezing I try to remember to leave this radiator close to the washing machine on frost protection setting.
So my own experience shows how a garage is a bad place to install a washing machine. However, apart from the 2 incidents mentioned it has worked OK for 12 years. Just don’t let the pipes freeze in extremely cold periods. Use an oil filled heater on frost setting.