Why are rubber washing machine hoses a safety risk?
Sunday, July 29, 2018
The rubber hoses that come packed in the tub of a new washing machine are a serious concern for insurance companies due to their high rate of failure and the flood remediation cost after they burst. Here’s a few statistics from a 2012 report by the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), an insurance industry safety group:
- Washing machine related failures are one the top 10 sources of residential water damage insurance claims, and supply hose failure accounts for over half of the claims.
- The typical claim costs the insurer an average of $5,308 after the homeowner’s deductible.
- The claims that occurred for unoccupied homes were an average of two-and-a-half times more than occupied homes.
Rubber supply hoses fail due the repeated sudden change in water pressure each time the washer’s automatic solenoid valve abruptly shuts off the water flow—which causes them to balloon out and then retract, weakening the rubber a little at each cycle.
Washing machine manufacturers have a warning message in the machine’s manual that states “TURN FAUCETS OFF WHEN WASHER IS NOT IN USE,” and states that they are not rated for continuous water pressure. Unfortunately, most homeowners do not follow those directions and, even though your homeowner’s insurance covers you for the water damage, the aftermath is expensive, miserable and easily avoidable.
Hoses with a braided web of stainless steel strands encasing them are available at home improvement and hardware stores. A package of a pair hoses, like the ones shown installed below, costs under $25. While they do not guarantee no hose failures, the hoses dramatically reduce the probability.
There are several additional features that can be added to the braided stainless hoses, such as a right-angle elbow to avoid crimping of the hose at an end, and a Floodstop® patented device that shuts off the water supply when a leak is noted. The gadget is battery-powered, however, which means one more thing to keep up with or it won’t work. We suggest simply changing hoses to braided stainless steel, possibly with the right-angle elbow if necessary because of a tight space behind the washer, as an adequate and sensible safety upgrade for your home.
It’s also important to get the right length hose and allow enough space between the wall and the machine to avoid kinks. About four inches is right.
Corrosion at the hose connection fittings is a second problem that can cause leakage. When the corrosion is as advanced as in the photo below, it may also be necessary to replace the faucets. Checking your hoses and their fittings annually is a good idea. Washing machine manufacturers recommend replacing rubber hoses after five years, but even the braided hoses won’t last forever. Also, shut off the water supply valves whenever you will be away from home for more than a couple of days as an added safety precaution.
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