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 whose house flooded because of a failed washing machine hose.
When 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.
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.
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.
Post edit: Here’s the follow-up: Floodsafe Hoses
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
July 24, 2012, 11:11 am
I agree on those floodsafe hoses. If you have a house with really good/ high water pressure, just the appliance/ faucet turning on can trigger the flood preventer.
Floodsafe® Washing Machine Connectors | Structure Tech Home Inspections
July 31, 2012, 3:47 am
[…] 31st, 2012 | No comments In last week’s blog post about washing machine connectors, I mentioned that I’m not a big fan of the FloodSafe® washing machine connectors. These […]
Washing machine Warranty
August 1, 2012, 4:43 am
I agree with that what you say for those flood safe hoses. Hoses have Anti-Corrosive Couplings, Pre-Installed High Quality EPDM Washers. Hoses exceed IAPMO, CSA, and RMA standards, and they are designed for use with both hot and cold water inlet. Hoses are better than stainless steel and will not conduct electricity. So using of hoses is completely a good decision.
September 22, 2012, 3:20 pm
hi. I’m overwhelmed by all the washing machine hose options, and having dealt with several floods for other reasons, I want to be as safe as possible. I currently turn off the water when not in use, but worry about a burst hose when it’s running (already had problems with drain pipe coming out and flooding during the washer cycle). So I want the best hoses too.
It sounds as if you recommend steel braided hoses as the best option, right? Does it matter what brand? Has anyone tried floodchek hoses (http://www.floodchek.com/) ? Can I believe any of their propaganda?
September 23, 2012, 5:24 am
Hi Rebecca, I’m inclined to believe the folks at Floodchek. Someone from their company sent me a long email after I wrote this blog post, so I actually invited them to write a follow-up blog post on this topic, comparing the failure rates of the different materials, but they never responded. I sent a follow-up email and left a voice mail as well, but still nothing.
I recommend the stainless steel braided hoses because that’s what I’ve heard recommended from every other professional in the industry and I’ve never heard of one bursting, but I’ve never done any type of lab testing on the different products myself. Floodchek claims to have done all of this already. They convinced me… they probably have the best hoses available.
December 4, 2012, 7:38 pm
i agree here at roto rooter we recomend every 5 years too as we have been to too too many flooded haoues due to ruptured hoses
July 4, 2013, 8:11 am
Thank you for this post, I had no idea that could happen down the line. This was really helpful.
July 12, 2013, 7:39 pm
I put the stainless steel hoses on my LG front loader & the first time . I tried to use it I got the water hammer noise! Loud! Any idea how I can make it stop? Yes, I turned the water back on before starting machine, so that’s not the noise. Help!
July 12, 2013, 8:01 pm
My best guess is that you don’t have the valve open all the way.
Replace Old Rubber Hoses on Your Washer | Dryer Vent Cleaning Services in Baton Rouge, Hammond, & Lafayette, LA
July 26, 2013, 4:01 am
[…] Read the entire article here: http://www.structuretech1.com/2012/07/rubber-washing-machine-hoses/ […]
Home inspector in San Diego
July 28, 2013, 12:45 pm
We often find failing washing machine hoses during our home inspections. This usually begins by a slight enlargement in the rubber hose, near the termination crimp. I like the idea of supplying a new pair to the buyers. I too, am not a fan of the flood safe hoses. I hear that you need to replace them if they ever activate to prevent a flood. Of course, the cost of a new pair of hoses dwarfs in comparison to a flooded house!
November 13, 2013, 12:58 pm
I personally know the owner of FloodCheck, first meeting him when I lived in Hawaii. He originally developed the hoses for high-rise apartment buildings in Honolulu, to prevent one bad hose from flooding half the building. I have used nothing but Floodchek hoses in my homes over the years without any problems whatsoever. My family has been in the appliance business since 1937.
I know Steve to be an honest person who is sincerely trying to create value and save people the aggravation of having their home flooded. To my knowledge, the information on his website is accurate and the 20 year warranty speaks for itself.
December 11, 2013, 12:52 pm
Had a slight water leak at the back of the detergent basket on our 10-12 year old Kenmore Elite washer. The repairman suggest replacing the flood safe hose we had installed with regular stainless coated hoses. He claims the flood safe hose may have been causing the leakage. Of course, it didn’t leak while he was at the house.
December 15, 2013, 8:41 am
My question is, why are rubber hoses the standard if seemingly everyone with plumbing expertise says to replace with stainless steel? Would not most consumers pay the extra cost thats passed along when they buy the appliance rather than the potential much greater cost and aggravation down the road if the rubber fails? Remember, auto makers didn’t want to make seat belts and spare tires standard now its unquestioned.
January 2, 2014, 4:13 pm
I work in the loss prevention side of the commercial insurance field.
Replacement of washer hoses is probably one of our leading recommendations to reduce the potential for loss.
I used to recommendation the stainless steel braided until I saw a study done by State Farm, I believe, that also revealed the weaknesses in that type of hose.
The IBHS (Institute for Business and Home Safety) conducted a study and analyzed 525 washing machine claims from multiple insurance companies. Of all water damage claims related to washing machines, more than half – nearly 55% – are from water supply hoses that leaked or burst.
These materials lose resiliency as they age, making them subject to cracks, leaks, and bursting. The IBHS study showed that failure rates increase dramatically in hoses that are more than five years old; the average age of failed hoses was 8.7 years. More than half of all failures occurred by the time the machine and its hoses were eight years old, and nearly 80% occurred before ten years.
I recommend replacing hoses every five years or the FloodChek hoses now. 20 year warranty and worth every penny. I wrote a risk management guide on this subject I will be happy to send to anyone that wants it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Ask for SRMG-012 Washer Hoses
Below is some excerpts from the paper. In the paper is a cutaway view of the brass connection of the standard black hose, the stainless steel hose and the FloodCheck hose. Seeing the difference is believing.
Standard black washer hoses are made of rubber tubing with a polyester reinforcement lining. (The metal inserts at the coupling end are rolled and stamped from thin sheets of copper alloy. Most failures occur at the end of the hose, where the metal insert comes into contact with the tubing. Failures generally occur for one of the following reasons:
Razoring — The metal insert has a very sharp edge which is in direct contact with the rubber tube. This edge becomes progressively thinner and sharper as it is worn away by the movements of the water and by the effects of electrolysis. In a process called “razoring,” the motion of the washing machine causes the metal edge to rub repeatedly against the inside of the hose, cutting it gradually from the inside out.
Stress Fractures — The metal insert is attached to the hose by a ferrule, or ring, which is crimped tightly to hold the pieces together. The crimping can cause a stress fracture in the hose, which is then subject to failure, especially as the rubber ages and begins to deteriorate.
Rusting — Corrosion (rusting) of the metal fitting can cause failure in two ways. First, as the thin metal fitting corrodes, it becomes jagged and rough and cuts into the hose as the washing machine operates. Water can leak between the hose and its outer covering, forming a bubble, a critical warning sign of imminent failure. Though a bubble may appear anywhere along the line, most breaks occur at the point where the metal fitting meets the rubber tube. Second, as the fitting continues to corrode, it can become so weak that it may eventually break apart.
Braided stainless steel hoses (sometimes called “steel-clad” hoses) were designed as a reliable replacement for standard black hoses, but they, too, have been problematic. They have proven to be not much stronger than standard rubber hoses, and they are also subject to failures related to the materials from which they are fabricated.
Crimping — A braided stainless steel hose consists of a plastic or rubber tube covered with a braided steel sheath, which is sometimes protected with a thin nylon coating. Because of the variety of materials used, a very tight crimp is required to fasten the metal fitting securely to the hose. During the manufacturing process, this tight crimping can damage the hose by cutting into the rubber. Once the product is installed on a washing machine, the action of the water and the movements of the machine can make the cuts worse, leading to eventual failure.
Corrosion — The stainless steel braided cover can oxidize when exposed to chloramine, a chemical increasingly popular in water treatment. Under these conditions, the stainless steel braided cover can weaken, fray, and even break, so that it can no longer provide strength to the hose.