A homeowner recently told us that she had left her house after turning on the washing machine, only to return 30 minutes later and discovered it was still filling up with water. Sadly for this homeowner, a broken water supply line caused extensive damage not only to the laundry room, but also to the ceiling, wall and floor in the room directly below the laundry area.
The homeowner said she couldn’t believe so much water could come out of such a small break in the pipe. She was shocked to learn that a 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can release up to 250 gallons of water a day. She was even more stunned to know that her washing machine used an upwards of 40 gallons of water per load.
Here are some additional water facts that relate to our homes and possible insurance claims:
- A newer washing machine with an “Energy Star” label uses between 18 to 25 gallons of water per load.
- The average lifespan for a washing machine supply hose is 3 to 5 years.
- A small water pipe leak inside a wall or under a slab may go undetected for months.
- Water damage accounts for approximately 25% of insurance claims.
- Approximately 37% of U.S. homeowners have experienced a loss of property due to water damage.
- A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds.
40 plus gallons of water is a lot of water! Damaged water supply lines are often the most overlooked and potentially destructive and costly mistake we can make. The upside, most hoses and fittings that connect the washing machine to the water source are visible and can be inspected.
Since most failures occur near the water connection (where the hose typically bends), this is what you should look for:
- Signs of deterioration or impending failure; such as bulges or swells, bubbles, cracks, unraveling, or kinks in the hose.
- Check for moisture, dripping, rust or discoloration, or leaking in, on, or around the hoses and connections.
- Check that all connections are tightened properly.
- Measure that your washing machine is at least four inches from the connections (normally located on your wall) to prevent any bending or kinking in the hose.
- Check that your washing machine is balanced properly and not “walking” during use. When a washing machine “walks”, it stresses hoses and connections.
If you discover any of the danger signs from the list above, replace hoses and fittings immediately. Delaying could cause you to come home one day and find that your washing machine is spilling out water and flooding your home.