Dec 13, 2013   //   by Daniel Cordova   //   Blog  //  Comments Off on Washing Machine Leaks and Water Damage

The Leaky Truth about Your Washing Machine.

Owning a home is one of the single most expensive purchases anyone will ever make in their lifetime so taking care of it and making sure you have homeowners insurance to protect it from the elements is absolutely vital.  Living in sunny southern California, most homeowners may believe that the highest threat to their home would be from a fire or even an earthquake, but they’re wrong.   In the past few years, insurance claims for water related incidents have spiked and have become the number one cause for damage in a home.  What is even more alarming is that out of the top 10 water related homeowners insurance claims, 5 are for plumbing related issues!  Failure of everyday household appliances such as dishwashers, kitchen sinks and toilets are common offenders but one of the largest, and generally most unsuspected culprits, is your very own washing machine! Yes, that’s right your handy dandy washing machine!

According to the U.S. Census an estimated 89.3 million households across America own a washing machine.  They wash, spin and repeat an average of 300 times every year which means the likelihood of having something go horribly wrong with your washing machine is pretty high.  In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IIBHS), water damage caused by washing machine related failures costs approximately $5,308 per household after all deductibles are paid, not to mention the spike in your monthly or yearly premiums as well.  The unfortunate part of all of this is that these washing machine failures are easily preventable with a routine check-up!  If you’ve never given your washing machine a full inspection and simply don’t know where to begin, don’t worry! We’re here to guide you step by step and help you avoid a costly water disaster with these simple steps.

Preventative Maintenance

First, it’s important to know that the primary cause of washing machine failure is due to a leaky or busted water supply hose.  These hoses provide about 40 gallons of water for every large load of laundry from your homes plumbing system to your washing machine so when they break, burst or leak they can cause a whole lot of damage in a short amount of time. So to get started:

  • Check your hot and cold washing machine supply lines.  Look for worn tubing or bulging and blistering of the hose, stress cracks or loosening at the connection, fraying of the lines, and any leaks near the hose ends.

As per manufacturers recommendations, replace these supply lines at least once every 3-5 years regardless of their visible condition; since in some cases deterioration may occur from the inside out, and might not even be visible until it is too late.  Make sure to replace them with reinforced steel braided hoses as these will last longer and are far less likely to result in catastrophe.

  • Make sure there is a four inch (11 centimeter) gap between the back of your washing machine and the wall to avoid kinks in your water supply lines.
  • Tighten any connections in the supply lines that may feel loose, but avoid over tightening, which may cause stress cracks to occur.

How to Change a Washing Machine Supply Hose

If you have a hose that is cracked, blistering or simply worn out it is time to swap it out for a new one. Replacing a washing machine supply hose is as easy as hooking up a garden hose to a water spout.  Washing machine hoses can be purchased from your local hardware store, any home repair centers, or plumbing supply outlets.  There a few options out there for hoses but if you want  a long lasting replacement we recommend installing a reinforced steal braided hose.  Here is how to change your washing machine supply hose:

  1. First, shut off the water supply to your washing machine.  If there is not a shut-off valve near your washing machine, you will have to close the main shut-off valve to your home.
  2. Next, unscrew the old hoses and screw in the new ones, making sure to line up the threads and screw on tightly.
  3. Last, turn your water supply on and check for any leaks.  If a leak occurs, shut off your water supply again and make sure the hoses were installed correctly.  Often, the threads may have just been misaligned.

If a problem persists, it’s best to call your local plumber to make sure there is not an even bigger issue.

Other Preventative Measures

  • Turn off the water supply valves when not in use.  This task can be a bit daunting so you may want to consider installing a lever-type valve which will make it easier to shut down the hoses in between uses and in case of an emergency.
  •  Although it’s tempting, do not leave your washing machine running while no one is home.  We can’t stress this enough!  Approximately 6% of all washing machine failures occur when no one is home and the cost is nearly two-and-a-half times more severe than occurrences when someone is home (IIBHS)!
  •  If possible, install your washing machine either outside your home or in the basement to reduce the impact and severity of damaged home goods and appliances if failure were to occur.  In fact, according to the IIBHS, washing machines located on the first floor or the primary living area have been found to have 28% more loss due to damage as compared with machines located in basements.


What Happens If Water Damage Already Occured

If you experience water damage due to a washing machine hose failure or due to another appliance it is crucial that you call your plumber to take care of the situation quickly and avoid further damage.  You should also consider calling a water damage specialist who will ensure that the home is completely dry and help prevent the growth of mold which can be can be extremely harmful to your health and to the health of your family.

If you notice any signs of water damage, it is vital that you call a professional right away!  But overall, it is best to always stay one-step ahead of any and all leaks and water damage, especially those caused by something as simple as your washing machine hose. By following these preventative maintenance tips and doing a routine check-up twice a year  you can protect yourself, your family, and your home and prolong the life of your washing machine!

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