Reuben's Home Inspection Blog

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Don't Let Your Home Get Flooded; Replace Those Old Rubber Hoses

Burst washing machine hoses have to be one of the most common causes of catastrophic water damage in homes.  When I find rubber hoses used to connect the washing machine, I often mention to my clients that it's a good idea to replace them.  It's downright disturbing how often my client then goes on to share a story with me about how they already had a flooded house or knew someone who's house flooded because of a failed washing machine hose.

Old Washing Machine HosesWhen I was about ten years old, one of our rubber washing machine hoses burst while we were gone for a few hours.  We arrived home to find an inch of standing water in our fully finished basement.  That was one heck of a mess.

Every time a washing machine shuts off the water, a shockwave is sent through the water pipes - remember my blog about water hammer? While installing a water hammer arrestor at the valve will protect the pipes downstream from the valve, this does nothing to protect the rubber hoses between the valve and the washing machine from water hammer. The video clip below, courtesy of Sioux Chief, gives a great demonstration of what happens to the washing machine hoses every time the water is suddenly turned off.  The text in this video mentions plastic pipes, but the effect would obviously be much greater with rubber hoses.

As rubber ages, it loses it's flexibility.  After being subjected to water hammer over and over for many years, the rubber washing machine hose is eventually going to fail, and it's going to be one heck of a mess.  Here are a few suggestions to lower the risk of your washing machine hoses suddenly bursting.

Turn off the water supply when not in use

Washing machine manufacturers actually tell you to do this in their installation instructions.  The text below comes directly from a Maytag washing machine user manual.

Warning from Maytag washing machine user manual

I can tell you from experience that it's extremely rare for anyone to actually do this.

Replace your old rubber hoses regularly

I've heard that a good rule of thumb is to replace rubber washing machine hoses every five years.  That sounds good, but how do you remember?  Another tip I've heard is to replace your washing machine hoses every leap year.  Not a bad idea.

Install an emergency shutoff kit

You can purchase an emergency shutoff kit, such as the type sold by Floodstop, which will almost surely prevent any type of catastrophic leak.  These devices come with a water sensor, so if a leak is detected, an alarm goes off and the water supply valves automatically close.  These kits are battery powered, and according to the web site, can be installed in about 10 minutes.  Not a bad idea.

Install stainless steel braided hoses

This is the simple advice that I usually give during home inspections.  Stainless steel braided hoses are much more resistant to bursting, and they're fairly inexpensive.  You can buy a pair on Amazon for under $17.

Stainless Steel Washing Machine Hoses

There's a new version of these hoses called Floodsafe®, which is supposed to completely shut off the water supply in the event of a burst hose.  I did a little testing with these hoses, and I'm not a big fan.  I'll post a follow-up on this topic next week.

In the meantime, do yourself a favor and pick up some new washing machine supply hoses.  On a project difficulty scale of one to five, replacing your washing machine hoses falls somewhere between zero and one.  If you can connect a garden hose to a faucet, you can replace your washing machine hoses.  Just use a wrench to loosen the old hoses, and give the new hoses an extra 1/4 turn with a wrench after you have them hand-tightened.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

        

Comment balloon 52 commentsReuben Saltzman • July 24 2012 03:22AM

Comments

Hi Reuben,

I had a condo for sale years ago that had been rented out.  The owners lived four states away. The tenants moved out and didn't turn off the water behind the washer in the second floor bath.   In the middle of the night I got a call from the local fire department.  The rubber hoses had burst on the washing machine.  The city water pressure was so strong it took the popcorn finish off the ceiling, broke the bathroom mirror on the opposite wall and flooded the downstairs. The water began to seep into the neighbor's condo unit-and they called 911.  What a mess!  My washing machine hoses got changed to stainless steel pretty quick! And I shut the water off behind the washer when it's not in use.

Posted by Barbara Tattersall, GRI (Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan (Keene,NH)) over 6 years ago

Great Tips Reuben! Washing machine hoses are one of the most neglected and most potentially damaging maintenance items in a home. I too believe that installing Stainless steel braided hoses forced is better than reinforced rubber hoses as they are burst resistant.

Posted by Terry Tracy (CRM Construction Inc) over 6 years ago

Good stuff Reubs, as always.  I tell clients on every inspection to routinely replace the old hoses when they move in and use the braided ones.  Why not?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Good morning Reuben,

Great tips..if only home owners would spend more time with regular maintenance on their home and appliances :). We see this happen all the time and it is so easily prevented! Congrats on the feature..well deserved!!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799) over 6 years ago

Barbara - I can only imagine.  The damage to condo buildings has to be far worse.

Terry - definitely.  Emergency drain pans are nice too, but they're usually not something that can easily be installed in existing construction.

Jay - same here.  I usually include that same comment in my inspection reports as well.  Now I'll be linking to this post too :)

Dorie - exactly.  This is a quick and easy step to take to help prevent your home from flooding.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago

Great advice, Reuben - we just had a new washer installed and they put in the braided hoses.

Posted by Peggy Chirico, REALTOR® 860-748-8900, Hartford & Tolland County Real Estate (Prudential CT Realty) over 6 years ago

Reuben,  I also tell all my customers about this.  Good post.

Posted by Robert Sole (REM Inspections LLC) over 6 years ago

stainless steel braided hoses - makes sense to me.  Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Joy Daniels (Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd.) over 6 years ago

You know this is a word to the wise...however it is one of those categories that people put on lists that may or may not get done

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 6 years ago
Great tips Reuben! I will reblog this post since it is such an easy fix that can prevent a very costly damage.
Posted by Ann Nguyen, Lake Tahoe Truckee Homes For Sale (eXp Realty) over 6 years ago

Hi Rueben,

I can tell you from experience the water faucets are never turned off. Then when they want to they are frozen in place. Hence the next problem.

I always check the lines to the washer or cracking and defects.

You never know what you will find just by looking.

Very nice post. Suggested it.

Best, Clint mcKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 6 years ago

Reuben, I installed the stainless steel braided hoses a couple of years ago. Good tips.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 6 years ago

Reuben, I always advise upgrading those rubber hoses to stainless steel jacketed type hoses---with the anti-flood devices.  I like to joke that the rubber ones are designed to burst when they are away on vacation.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

Reuben, First off great to meet you in person. Also I did a blog on these washing machine hoses by floodchek. Check it out.

 

http://activerain.com/blogsview/2734975/a-hose-is-a-hose-or-not-chelan-home-inspections

 

Also here is another item by Watts-

http://media.wattswater.com/F-FloodSafe.pdf

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

When I recently purchased a new washer at one of the big box stores, they were averse to install it unless i got the braided stainless hoses.  And they cost a pitance extra!

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 6 years ago

Really good advice.  Our condo will be vacated soon by the tenants and we will put it on the market.  I will definately turn off the water when no one is there.  Thanks, I would have forgotten.

Posted by Chris and Dick Dovorany, Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty ( Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida) over 6 years ago

Thanks for the Amazon link for the stainless steel hoses. Already on the way, free shipping and two day delivery, with Amazon Prime.

BTW, I always shut off the water after use. Being paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't out to get you!

Posted by Jon Quist, Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996 (REALTY EXECUTIVES TUCSON ELITE) over 6 years ago

After an upstairs laundry room flood in my old place, I got the stainless hoses.  So far, so good.  Even though I know they may not burst, I do shut off the water to the washer when I travel...

Posted by Gary Frimann, CRS, REALTOR and Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates) over 6 years ago

Excellent advice.  Here so many homes have the laundry room upstairs.  Whew....... Imagine what a mess that could be!

Posted by John McCormack, AlbuquerqueHomes.com, Albuquerque Homes Realty (Albuquerque Homes Realty * www.AlbuquerqueHomes.com) over 6 years ago

A Buyer of mine recently moved into a home and the washer is connected by an old vinyl looking hose.  I will mention to her that these should be replaced.  Thanks for the heads up.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 6 years ago

Very good advice for home owners.  I re-blogged this and posted in on Facebook as well.


Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) over 6 years ago

Reuben: Thank you for sharing this information. It is a very nice blog with explanation and photos.

Anytime you can avoid water repairs one should do so and that is by regular maintenance and inspection.

Posted by Carl Winters over 6 years ago

Peggy - they did it right!  Well, best practice anyway.

Robert - it's an easy thing to do.

Joy - thanks for reading.

Richie - maybe the link to hoses on Amazon will make it a little easier to get the hoses ordered :)

Ann - thanks!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago

Clint - It's a good thing to look for.  I don't mess with the valves - you're right, nobody touches 'em.

Michael - it sounds like you're on top of it.  Good stuff.

Charles - You know it.  Can you imagine the damage you'd find if these things burst while you were out of town?  I don't want to.

Donald - back atcha, thanks for making the time!  Those floodcheck hoses look like a good idea, but for $40, I wonder how they compare to the stainless steel braided hoses for $17?  

I'll post a follow up next week on the FloodSafe hoses from Watts.  They're not all that.

Kathryn - I'm glad to hear it!  It sounds like they got it right.

 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago

Chris and Dick - good idea.  You'll sleep better.

Jon Q - glad to hear it!   I have Amazon Prime too - big fan.   

Gary - better safe than sorry.  It takes 10 seconds to shut the water off.

John M - I had the internal drain hose come loose at a washing machine on the second floor of my first home, and just that was a huge mess.  

Chris - those vinyl hoses are probably better than the rubber ones, but I'd still sleep much better with the stainless steel hoses.

Roy - thanks!

Carl & Ceil -  I completely agree.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago

I replaced all our old hoses last fall with the new hi=tech ones.

 

Posted by Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Broker, Selling Northwest Houston to good people like you! (Janisch & Co.) over 6 years ago

Reuben -- great tips, I will replace all the washers yearly and make sure to have stainless steel braided hoses as well -- as my beautiful 300 sqm timber floors would suffer...thanks for sharing.

Posted by Peter Michelbach, i Sell Real Estate over 6 years ago

Thanks for Sharing Reuben.  Water damage claims from washing machines and broken pipes are the #1 non-catastrophic claim for homeowners and can be avoided with your tips.

Posted by Katherine over 6 years ago

I replaced my rubber hoses with the stainless steel braided hoses a few years ago. I'll watch for your follow up on the "Floodsafe®".

Posted by Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Associate Broker, email: Travis@theSOLDman.me / cell: 334-494-7846 (Team Linda Simmons, Enterprise, AL 36330) over 6 years ago

I bought a new set of washer and dryer earlier this year.  Decided to get the upgraded metal hoses along with the units.  I have heard too many horror stories of rubber hoses bursting when someone is not home.

Posted by Rob Arnold, Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F (Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc.) over 6 years ago

I think that it is a good idea to change your old shut off valves to 1/4 turn that you can get turned off really fast.

Posted by Roger Newton (Roger Newton Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Hi Reuben, excellent post.  another way of minimizing water hammer is to throttle down on the shut off valves.  Most appliances, toilets, etc. do not need flow flow anyway.

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) over 6 years ago

Reuben Rules

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 6 years ago

This is something I never considered so I'm glad your post was featured. I know hoses to toilets should be changed to the stainless steel variety, having had a couple of the vinyl ones break -- not good. 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 6 years ago

Hi Reuben,

Learned the hard way  ;-)

Now have stainless in all my property.

Thanks for reminding everyone !!!

Lou 

Posted by Lou Zandy (WeLoveMarcoIsland.com) over 6 years ago

You are the bomb for reminding all of us about this.  I had this happen, waking up to 3 inches of water in my house many years ago.  Terrifying.

Posted by Nan Jester, Realtor, Exit Real Estate Gallery (Exit Real Estate Gallery Jacksonville Beach, FL ) over 6 years ago

Reuben, I was wondering about those floodsafe hoses from Watts. It seems to me that if you have a low volume leak that they may not detect it.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Thanks for the post Reuben! I'm going to Home Depot on the way home to pick up some new hoses!

Posted by Mitch Muller - Charlotte NC Real Estate, Certified Residential Specialist (ProStead Realty Charlotte, NC CRS SRES mitch@prostead.com) over 6 years ago

Good advice there. The hoses always burst in the middle of the night or right after you closed the door on your way out. 

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 6 years ago

I installed a flood safe hose on my toilet. I had to remove it because it keep shutting off the water supply. The ones on my HE washer cause the supply to sputter. I think they are a good idea, but functionally they do not work well in my experience. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 6 years ago

This is a great idea to mention. I have the newer ones now also with a clip that holds the discharge hose in the water box so it doesn't ever come out from the fast spraying water.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 6 years ago

Jeanne and Ralph - good to hear.

Peter - It's certainly a wise investment.

Katherine - I've heard that before.  I've never seen any official statistics... I tried looking that up before writing this blog post, but I couldn't find any info on it.

Travis - thanks.

Rob - the time of installation is the perfect time to do it.

 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago

Roger - if they're in a convenient location, sure.  Mine are tucked way under my laundry sink; not easy to get at.

Bob - you're absolutely right.  One of the pros at Sioux Chief mentioned the same thing to me.

Richie - :-)

Pamela - I can't stand those vinyl hoses...

Lou - it seems way too many people have learned this lesson the hard way.

 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago

Nan - Yikes!  Sorry to hear it!

Donald - there's that, but the other issue is that they give people a lot of grief even when there are no leaks.  These things are very touchy, and they cut off the water flow way too easily.

Mitch - good stuff.

Rob - No doubt :(

James - No kidding?  Nice to know.  I might have to include that bit of info in my post.

Lyn - good idea with the clip on the discharge hose.  With a traditional top-load washing machine, that could be a 40 gallon mess.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago

Great article as always.

 

Posted by Stephen Gaudet (Gaudet Inspections) over 6 years ago

If you are on the bad side of a flood or any other damage, you may be covered by your insurance.  You should research your coverage prior to making a claim.  My understanding is that insurance companies are anxious to cancel and raise your rates  If your cost will exceed your deductible, it is probably best not to claim.

Posted by Roger Newton (Roger Newton Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Reuben:

Good information.  I like the idea of replacing your hoses every leap year.  Easy to remember.  I am on my way home to check my hoses.  Thanks for the tips.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) over 6 years ago

Rueben- I wish our laundry room were on the first level instead of up.  I've heard of many floors being flooded as a result of this. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 6 years ago

Rueben, I took the advice of our favorite home inspector and changed out our rubber hoses for stainless but I'm afraid I have never turned the water off except when I get a new washer :)

Posted by Nancy Laswick, Your REALTOR® For The Valley Of The Sun (United Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Don't forget about O rings on the toilet. I've had big time probs there a time or two.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 6 years ago

Good morning, Rueben.... I can't understand why anyone today would buy rubber washer hoses when the braided ones are so popular now....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) almost 6 years ago

I have some friends and clients who have had terrible trouble with this - their washer has flooded twice in 6 years and they also just recently had their refrigerator leak.  It's been terrible, lots of new flooring and trouble.  Yikes. -Kasey

Posted by Kasey & John Boles, Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties (Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - BoiseMeridianRealEstate.com) almost 6 years ago

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