Living in Southern California, if you were asked what the number one insurance claim on a homeowner’s insurance policy is, it might be likely for you to say fire damage, but that would be incorrect. As unbelievable as it may sound, it’s actually water damage! What makes this so hard to believe, is that when we think water damage, we picture a house flooded knee-deep with water, but again, this is not the case. Actually, the largest amount of insurance claims stem from the failure of everyday household appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, kitchen sinks, toilets, etc; and one of the largest, and generally most unsuspected culprits, is actually your very own washing machine!
According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IIBHS), water damage caused by washing machine related failures costs on average 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, with a quick 2 minute inspection twice a year, and a $15-$20 part replacement if necessary, this could have all been prevented! Lucky for you, we’re here to tell you how!
First, know that the primary cause of water damage in homes from washing machine related failures is due to a leaky or busted water supply hose. According to the IIBHS, the average age of failure for a washing machine supply hose is approximately 8.7 years. To extend the life expectancy of your washing machine, and to possibly save you from extremely expensive and extensive clean-up and repair to your home, and to save you time, follow these essential steps to preventative home maintenance for your washing machine and supply lines:
* Check your hot and cold washing machine supply lines at least twice a year (every 6 months) for signs of failure, which include: 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.
* Leave 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 that may feel loose, but avoid over tightening, which may cause stress cracks to occur.
Other preventative measures include the following:
* Turning off the supply valves when not in use, such as when leaving on vacation or if your washing cycle is only once every week or two.
The type of valves you have installed may make this task a bit daunting. Instead of omitting this task completely, consider having installed a lever-type valve that will make it easier to operate between uses and in case of an emergency, such as a hose burst. A local plumber would be able to do this for you for a fairly small fee, but it is well worth it.
* Do not use your washing machine when no one is home!
Approximately 6% of all washing machine failures occur when no one is home, which isn’t huge, but the amount caused by the damage is what makes this point clear. The cost is nearly two-and-a-half times more severe than occurrences when someone is home (IIBHS)!
* If possible, install your washing machine on either the 2nd floor of your home or in the basement to reduce the impact and severity of damage if failure were to occur.
Washing machine failure when located on the first floor, or primary grounds of living, has a result of 28% more loss due to damage as compared to if the machine were located on the 2nd floor or in the basement (IIBHS). This is primarily because the majority of expensive home equipment like television sets and other appliances are usually located on the first floor.
Following all these tips will not only ensure a prolonged life for your washing machine, but also give you the peace of mind you deserve, but there’s just a few more questions. How do you change a washing machine supply hose? And what if water damage has already occurred? No need to worry here either. We got you covered!
How to Change a Washing Machine Supply Hose
Replacing a washing machine supply hose is a fairly simple task. It is as easy as hooking up a garden hose to a water spout. If you notice any of the signs as mentioned before, or if your hose has not been changed in over 3-5 years, it’s a good idea to change it now. Washing machine hoses can be purchased from your local hardware store, any home repair centers, or plumbing supply outlets. The cost is roughly around $15-$20 for good reinforced steel braided hoses. The following are the three simple steps it takes to change the hose:
* 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.
* Next, as easy as it sounds, unscrew the old hoses and screw in the new ones, making sure to line up the threads and screw on tightly.
* Last, turn your water supply on and check for any leaks. If a leak occurs, it is best to shut off your supply again and make sure the hoses were installed correctly. Often, the threads may have just been misaligned.
If a problem persists, which generally isn’t too likely, it might be best to call your local plumbing company to make sure there is not an even bigger issue.
What Happens If Water Damage Already Occurs
If water damage has already occurred in your home, whether due to washing machine failure or not, you should call a certified water damage specialist as well as a plumber. It is necessary to help prevent the growth of mold in your home and prevent any further damage to your floors, walls and ceilings due to continued leaks and mold. A plumber will fix the problem and a water damage specialist will ensure that your home is completely dry by use of their professional water removal and drying equipment so that no water is left lingering to create a damp and welcoming environment for mold.
Mold can be extremely harmful to your health and to the health of your family, so it is important to check often for leaks even beyond your washing machine, in or on places like your walls, ceilings, floors, window sills, chimneys, attic vents, plumbing fixtures and other appliances. Signs of a leak include stains and discoloration on surfaces, peeling paint and musty odors. If you notice any of these signs, it is vital that you call for help 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, and follow the preventative maintenance tips listed above to protect yourself, your family, and your home as much as possible, and prolong the life of your washing machine!