How to Install a Laundry Chute
Doing laundry isn't the most difficult thing to do. In fact, it's quite easy. But the hard part lies in actually getting your laundry to the machine where the cleaning will take place. For two-story homes especially, getting those dirty clothes ready for loading can get tricky. This is where a laundry chute can come in very handy. To learn how to install your very own laundry chute for quick and easy laundry transportation, look no further!
What You'll Need
Necessary tools for this project include a tape measure, a 4-in-1 screwdriver, a cordless drill, a drill bit set, a drywall saw, a reciprocating saw, a utility knife, tin snips and a taping knife. You will also need a metal duct, laundry chute door, duct tape, sheet metal screws, drywall, drywall tape, drywall compound, sandpaper, primer and paint.
Step 1: Check Your Building Codes
Most cities have strict codes in place for building modifications, fire safety and expansion limitations. Some limit the installation of laundry chutes, especially in buildings that are two stories tall and have an unobstructed pathway, which is breeding ground for quick smoke and fire spread. Before starting any project involving laundry chutes, check with your local building inspector for the guidelines in your city.
Next, choose a suitable place for your chute. Finding an unobstructed path between two floors can be difficult and sometimes impossible, with all the plumbing and wiring issues present in household structures. Typically, the best place for your chute is in a hallway where the wall runs parallel to the floor joists or the studs in the wall are stacked directly atop the floor joists below. Just be careful to ensure that the chute is tall enough that it doesn't pose a safety risk for small children. Using a stud finder, locate two studs; then bore a small exploratory hole to check for obstructions. Once you've found a proper location and gotten approval from the correct officials, you're ready for step two!
Step 2: Open the Wall
Carefully remove the baseboard to open the wall. Then, using a utility knife, cut out a 42-inch-tall patch of drywall down the center of each stud. Cut out the base plate between the studs using a reciprocating saw or handsaw. Carefully pull the plate out, as the drywall and the trim on the opposite side may be nailed to it. Cut a hole through the plywood floor for the duct to slide through. At the top of the cutout, install a 2-by-4 piece of blocking between the studs as a nailing surface for your laundry door frame.
Step 3: Install the Metal Duct
To make the chute, use ordinary 3 1/4-by-12-inch galvanized heating duct. Also have a 90-degree elbow with a 6-inch register opening and a preassembled laundry chute door. You can find these at any lumberyard or home improvement center. Snap the rectangular duct pieces together. Using metal-cutting snips, expand the opening in the 90-degree elbow to make it just slightly smaller than your laundry door opening.
Trim and fold over the opening flap that you cut; then install the chute. Using sheet metal screws, attach the duct to your top blocking and the studs on each side. Duct-tape the joint between the two pieces on the inside and on the edges of all openings so that clothes won't snag on sharp edges. Paint and patch the drywall. Then install the laundry chute door, and make sure that at least two sides of the door frame are screwed to the underlying 2-by-4s. At the bottom of your chute, place a laundry basket on a table or on the floor to catch any falling laundry. Ta-da! You have completed the project!
Laundry chutes are invaluable household tools, particularly in two-story homes or buildings with a basement laundry space. By following the basic steps shown above, you can add your very own chute, making laundry duties that much easier and saving you the strain of traveling up and down the stairs. So next time, don't bother paying for a fancy laundry basket. Instead, just keep your laundry chute clean and let it do the rest.