How To Look At A House

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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.

    Also see our article Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Laundry Areas.

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about PLUMBING:

How can I protect my pipes to keep them from bursting during a hard winter freeze in North Florida?

Why is the vacuum breaker at my hose faucet leaking, gushing water, or making funny sounds?

What are the code requirements for plumbing vent terminations?

What are the code requirements for layout of drain piping under sinks?

Why is there sand in the bottom of my toilet tank?  

What causes a gurgling sound when a bathtub or sink drains? 

Are drop-in toilet bowl cleaner tablets safe?

What can I add to my septic tank to help it work better? 

Why is there mold inside my toilet tank?  

What are the pros and cons of a wall-mounted toilet?

Which plumbing fixtures require water shut off valves in a home? 

How can I tell if a house is connected to a septic tank system or sewer?

Are plastic pipes (PVC, CPVC, and PEX) safe for drinking water? 

Why is a backflow preventer required on lawn sprinkler systems? 

What are the common problems to look for when the plumbing has been replaced in a house? 

What's that powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater? 

How can I tell what type of plumbing pipe I have?

What causes low water pressure in a house?

Should I call a plumber or septic tank contractor when my septic tank backs up into the house? 

How do I get rid of the sewer gas smell in my house?  

What are the pipes on my roof? 

Should I wrap the water heater with an insulation blanket? 

Which water pipes are an insurance problem and possibly uninsurable? 

• Does a home inspector check the plumbing under the floor slab?

• Is it alright to disconnect the washing machine drain from the septic tank and divert it to the ground in the yard?

    Visit our PLUMBING and SAFETY pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

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