Don’t Get Hosed by your Washing Machine

Traditional rubber washing machine hoses that feed hot and cold water to your washer can deteriorate over time. This makes them susceptible to rupturing and potentially flooding your home. The recent trend of locating laundry facilities on the second floor of the home for proximity to the bedrooms further exacerbates the problem, as the flooding occurs in finished areas of the home rather than a basement. Having a drainage tray installed is a good and helps if the pump housing breaks, but ruptured hoses will spray in all directions circumventing the tray’s protection.

Below on the left is a picture of a washing machine supplied by rubber hoses. On the right you can see what steel-braided washing machine hoses look like. You can buy them in a package of two for about twenty-five dollars at the big box hardware stores. All you need is access to the back of the machine and a pair of pliers to install them. The principle is that the wrapping of the hose with the steel braid reinforces the hose and does a better job preventing ruptures. Make sure there are no kinks after you install your new hoses.

rubber supply hoses steel-braided hoses

While we’re on the topic, you can lessen the risk by turning off the shutoff valves while you are away on vacation. A lot of water can pass through a pressurized hose in a week or two. Newer plumbing installations (as per picture to the right above) have a single lever ball-valve that makes this easy. Of course you still have to remember to use it.

Is age the only factor that causes rubber hoses to burst? Well, probably not. Another factor that I think contributes is water-hammering. The solenoid valve in a washing machine that controls the water flow pretty much goes from full flow to no flow in a split second. The sudden stop of the pressurized water really hammers the pipe and supply hoses. Not all all water supplies have hammering that you’ll hear, but the surge of water still sends a shock wave through the line. Like most things in life, the weakest components fail first. If you have old rubber supply hoses, you have a flood waiting to happen.

Anti-hammering devices can be installed between the hose connection and the supply line to reduce the effects of the hydraulic pressure wave. They act as a shock absorber to reduce hammering and the noise that commonly accompanies it. Here’s an article at About.com that shows you an anti-hammering device and discusses how to install them.

As a Home Inspector I frequently comment on rubber supply hoses to washing machines.I hope these tips help you to be comfortable and safe in your new home.


Author: Rob Cornish is a Home Inspector in Ottawa, Canada. © 2013 HomeXam Inc.
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