I am looking to construct a laundry chute in our closet. I was
originally going to use large diameter pvc pipe but found it
prohibitively expensive. I also looked into sheet metal ducting but it
didn't seem stable enough and too many places for clothes to snag. So I
am going to build it out of 2 x 4's and drywall. It will be about 12"
square. I was going to place a side hinged door with a handle on the
wall outside the closet for access. And I may or may not place a metal
or plastic plate on the ceiling down in the basement attached with
spring hinges to cover the hole from the chute. The hole in the ceiling
will end up around 2 feet from the wall with the clothes dropping into
a large basket sitting on a cart with casters I will also be building.
I was wondering if I could get away with using 1 x 3's instead of the 2
x 4's. Also if anyone could take a look at my proposed plans and
comment/advise that would be greatly appreciated!
I'll add a second note of caution. Adding a laundry chute between floors
will allow a fire in your basement to spread almost immediately to all
levels of your house. If you had a fire in your dryer from lint backup, you
could burn down the entire house pretty quickly.
I don't know much about building codes, but I know that there are pretty
strict rules about opening a 'chase' between floors.
If you do move forward with the laundry chute, I'd recommend putting
relatively air tight, fire resistant 'doors' at both the top and the bottom
of the chute. The bottom door could be spring loaded, or preferably you
could open it manually. You could let the dirty clothes pile up inside the
chute instead of on the basement floor.
So does you stairway. Better seal it off immediately.
Not in residential building.
Oh come on. Is there nothing that doesn't bring the alarmists out in this
group? Not to be offensive Chuck, (and I apologize if my tone sounds
offensive), but this type of suggestion just defies normal everyday life.
Look hard enough and you can find boogy men lurking under any bed in
My brother-in-law built a new house a few years back and they required him
to install fire doors at the top and bottom of his laundry chute. They also
made him install a fire sprinkler system in his house, and improve the road
coming in so firetrucks could get in. They took fire safety very seriously
there (Cowlitz County, Washington).
Unfortunately, just as they completed their house we had extremely heavy
rains and their new house (and dozens of others) was destroyed in a
We built our own house last year (Clark County, Washington) and my
inspector was also quite serious about fire safety. We didn't have a
laundry chute (single story home) or have to install a sprinkler system,
but they were very attentive to fire blocking and sealing off all passages
where fire could travel.
I'm glad I put a disclaimer in one of my other posts Anthony, which allowed
me the escape necessary for this type of exception. That's an aggressive
building code, and (thankfully...) not what is common across the country.
That's taking safety to a rediculous level, though I can see the sense in
improving a driveway so that fire trucks can get up it - assuming it's too
long to drag hose. That should have fallen in the category of common sense.
I was thankful we didn't have to install a sprinkler system, but otherwise
the requirements were very easy to implement. Most of it used scraps for
blocking and whatnot anyway, so there was virtually no cost involved. In
the overall house building process, the few requirements for fire safety
were simple, and it's nice to know it's done properly.
Complying with seismic and ventilation requirements was a bigger hassle
than the fire safety issues, though in retrospect, even those were fairly
simple to implement. And again, I'm glad it's built that way now...
It sounds plausible, but I've seen new construction with laundry chutes, so
it is not universal. However, all the ones I've seen have been metal and
it's also possible that metal is required to allow for burn-time requirements
to make it legal. I doubt it is a restiction, but it's worth looking into.
Here in our part of Minnesota you pretty much can't build laundry
chutes anymore...a local inspector might let you if there were fire
doors on each floor, but I've heard of cases where even designs like
that were stopped. Check the local codes/practice before you start.
That said, our chute (our house was built in 1958) is just sheet
metal ducting, like you'd use for a cold air return, with a hinged
door at top. At the bottom it just opens into a hamper. Since this
was installed during construction it was simple and works well.
Retofitting might be more of a puzzle, unless you wanted to open the
When I read about codes like this, it just makes me all the more glad to
live in New York where we aren't bound by a lot of the codes that don't
really serve a huge purpose. Of course we pay for that "freedom" in the
amount of taxes we pay. There's always a tradeoff...
Sheet metal should be fine if installed correctly. That's what we had
installed when we built out house six years ago. And with three kids
and tons of usage there has not been a single snag. If you happen to
use your chute as much as our family does I could foresee wear and tear
that might eventually wear the outer layer of the drywall. So, you
might get a pile of dust along with the rest of the stuff you throw
down there. Plus, wet stuff like rags might also add to quicker wear.
Just my $.02, but I would reconsider the sheet metal option.
My parents have used a laundry chute made of rectangular sheet metal
ducting for years, between two studs in the wall (therefore only 3 or 4
inches deep), and it's worked fine. No problem with clothes snagging.
If you'd rather use wood, I don't know why 1x3's wouldn't work - it
shouldn't take a lot of abuse, right? Also, if I understand your plans
correctly, it looks like the frame extends all the way to the floor of
the basement? My parent's chute just extends a few feet through the
basement ceiling, and the clothes obviously fall straight down from
there; no need for a longer chute.
I've got a two story laundry shoot that sounds like it's very similar to
what you're considering except mine dumps into a cabinet I built in the
basement laundry room - makes for a clean scene. You can go as light duty
as you want for a laundry shoot - it's very non-structural. Mine uses 2x2's
for framing and 1/4" plywood inside. You could build it with nothing more
than one-by framing if you have scrap around that you can cut up into
"studs", since there is really no force exerted on a laundry shoot. No
sense overbuilding a simple project like this.
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