Are you getting hosed? (Washing Machine Hoses 101)

washing-machine-and-dryerDoing laundry is often the least-loved and most frequently performed household chore, so it makes sense to give your vastly underappreciated but totally overused washing machine (and hoses) a little TLC this season.

Why?

Because cleaning up after a flood, on top of doing laundry (and folding AND reminding everyone to put their clothes away for the fifth time) is just the absolute worst. And a flood should never happen, because washing machine hose failures are one of the most preventable home related disasters out there.

Don’t let a hose failure happen to you. Here’s what you can do to avoid calling the plumber for an emergency visit (and possibly an expensive clean-up crew as well):

  1. Braids of Steel. Trade up to a better quality water supply hose. Run-of-the-mill rubber supply hoses dry out with age and can easily expand and burst, flooding your home in seconds. Sometimes that old hose will look fine from the outside, but it could be badly deteriorated on the inside, which even the most keen eyes can’t see. That’s why you should consider upgrading from the typical rubber hoses to braided stainless steel lines. They’ll cost you a bit more, but are well worth it (and so are you).
  2. Know where the flow goes. Know where the washing machine water valves are—and check them regularly. When (not if) there’s ever a problem with a water line, you’ll know exactly where to find them—and know how to shut them off quickly. And if you’re remodeling or renovating, make sure you put your water valves in a place that’s easily accessible and they are easy to turn off—a single lever valve may be the way to go.
  3. Shut it off. Talk to your plumber about connecting a shut off valve to your main water line, which could detect any unusual uptick in water flow to or from your home before it turns into a tributary for Niagara Falls. When traveling you may want to consider shutting off your water completely, that way you will never need worry about potential water issues while you are gone.
  4. Don’t get kinky. Make sure you have adequate space between your washing machine and the wall behind it—this will allow your water lines to hang free and prevent kinking which is a another potential factor in causing hoses to burst.
  5. Check it twice. When attaching the drain hose make sure the connections to both the washing machine and the stand pipe are secure. Run a test wash to make sure there are no leaks at either end.
  6. Homeowner, meet dryer vent. Remember to love and cherish your dryer vent and exhaust hose, too. This means making sure you clean them every six months at least. This is in addition to your emptying the lint screen every time you throw a load in to dry. Vacuum and wipe out the vent and connections thoroughly twice a year, and check that your external dryer exhaust hose is in good condition and is clean, too. Built-up dryer lint causes thousands of home fires every year and many preventable deaths. Don’t let this happen to you.
  7. Mark your calendar. Every six months or so, take three minutes to check that your washing machine supply lines (hot and cold water hoses) are properly tightened (not too much!) and in good shape. Check your dryer vent, too, and make sure it’s clear and properly positioned so warm dyer air vents outside unimpeded while you’re at it.

Useful Links:

Real Simple magazine has a series of cool checklists for cleaning and home maintenance. Here’s a link to their “Complete Laundry Room Checklist.”

The Money Pit and HouseLogic are good starting points if you’re looking for complete reference websites for home care and maintenance. We love New England’s This Old House, too. Go, Norm!

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowner’s and auto insurance throughout the northeast.