What Is a Washing Machine Pan?

By: Debbie Wolfe | Affiliate Disclosure

A washing machine pan is an inexpensive way to prevent water damage from a leaking washing machine. This drip pan slides under your washing machine and protects the floor and surrounding area against washing machine overflow, leaks, accidental spillage, and drips.

What exactly is a washing machine pan?

A washing machine pan is a rectangular-shaped pan that’s slightly larger than the base of your washer. It’s typically made of a high-density plastic or metal to withstand water and debris.

Why do you need a washing machine pan?

A busted washing machine hose poses one of the greatest threats when it comes to potential flooding in the home. If a hose comes loose or ruptures, it can leak gallons of water per hour. If the leak isn’t detected immediately, the water damage could be very expensive to repair.

You can install a washing machine without a pan, but you run the risk of water damage. Simply adding a washer pan will gather any water that overflows, protect against complete hose failure, and catch drips from the hoses. The pan also protects your floor from condensation.

How does a washing machine drain pan work?

The washer pan is placed under your washing machine and then connected to a drain pipe that funnels away excess water. Most drain pans have a pre-cut hole which you can fit a PVC pipe into. The other end of the pipe is connected to a drainpipe that moves water out of the pan. If there’s a leak, the water will never rise above the level of the drain pan—it’s channelled away into the drainage system.

How to install a washing machine pan

Drain pans aren’t hard to install, but they require the help of a partner or use of a dolly.

Materials

  • Carpenter's level
  • Dolly
  • Hacksaw
  • Washing machine drain pan
  • Drain fitting (if needed)

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Prep the washing machine—Shut off the water supply to the washing machine, unplug the appliance, and disconnect all hoses attached to it.
  2. Insert the dolly under the washer—Slightly lift the front of the machine (you may need a partner to help you) and fit the dolly under the front of the machine. Move it a small distance from its original spot until you uncover your laundry room’s floor drain.
  3. Cut the drain pipe—For a new installation, you’ll need to cut the drain pipe to an appropriate length (the drain pipe needs to be slightly below the thickness of the subfloor).  Use a hacksaw to cut down the pipe to the right size. If there’s an existing drain pan, the pipe should already be the right length. 
  4. Install the drain—If the drain pans didn’t come with a pre-cut hole, cut a corresponding hole for the drain and install the drain onto the drain pipe. 
  5. Put the pan over the drain—Place the new washing machine drain pan directly over the drain. 
  6. Replace the machine—Using the dolly and a partner, place the machine onto the drain pan.
  7. Check the level—Before you reconnect the machine, make sure it’s level. If it’s not, adjust the position of your drain pan until it is.
  8. Reconnect the hoses—Once everything is level, reconnect the hoses and plug in the washing machine.
  9. Turn the water valves back on—For the first few loads after installation, keep an eye on the machine for any leaks and ensure the drain pan is working properly.

Maintenance for your washing machine pan

Although a drain pan will help you avoid water damage, it’s important to routinely check it to make sure it’s in the best shape possible. Look for cracks or wet spots around the drain pan to ensure that its integrity has not been compromised. It’s possible for the actual drain to get clogged from washing machine debris, so keep an eye on your drain pan to make sure it’s draining properly.

Best washing machine pans

Drain pains are available in various types of materials and at different price points. Here are our top three picks for the best drain pan for your home.

Summary
Pros
Cons

Oatey 34067 Plastic Pan

Summary

This pan is made from semi-flexible plastic polymer that’s tough, yet pliable. It’s 32” wide x 30” long x 2.5” deep and will fit most machines. The pans have formed a hole to punch out that will fit 1-inch PVC plastic fittings.

Pros

  • Includes punch-out hole
  • Deep tray holds lots of water
  • Great value for price

Cons

Plastic can get brittle over time

Camco 20751 Washing Machine Drain Pan for Stackable Units

Summary

Made with heavy-duty polypropylene, this washing machine pan has a thick design mold that resists shattering and cracks. The pan is 32” wide x 30” long x 2.5” deep (other sizes are available). The pan has pre-formed cut lines that make installation easier.

Pros

  • PVC and CPVC fitting options
  • Deep tray
  • Lock nut with a washer included

Cons

No formed holes

Heavy Duty Washer Machine Drain Pan

Summary

Made from 20-gauge stainless steel, this pan is on the smaller side—27” wide x 25” long by 2.5” deep. It’s perfect for smaller units and is compatible with many major front-loaded washing machine brands.

Pros

  • Heavy duty welded corners
  • Outlasts plastic

Cons

This washing machine pan may not fit all machines and doesn’t come with pre-cut holes


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