Harmless-looking laundry hoses your biggest threat

A burst washing-machine hose sprays water.Want to know your greatest risk for an insurance loss? It's likely your washing machine hoses, according to PEMCO's claims experience.

No fooling. Water losses typically cause the most homeowners policy claims. Leaky toilets, bent and broken ice-maker lines on refrigerators, and drippy dishwasher plumbing account for much of that. But washing machine hoses might be the biggest threat.

Your hot and cold water hoses for the washing machine should be changed every five years, especially if they're rubber hoses. Think about it: Even when you're not washing clothes, most people leave their faucet valves open all the time, forcing constant pressure on the hoses.

Steel=mesh hoses are more durable than rubber.You'll lessen the risk if you use durable steel-mesh hoses instead of plain rubber ones, but even they must be changed regularly.

We learned that lesson the hard way at our current home. This summer I wrote about how years ago, one of our washing machine hoses blew out, soaking and warping our new oak floor. We had to move out for days while it was stripped and refinished.

The blunder that led to our failed hose is all too common. We bought our new washing machine 11 years before the hose burst, and I had failed to replace the hoses even when we moved twice during that span. I simply reconnected the existing ones both times we moved into a new home. The rubber looked fine on the outside. What I couldn't see was how brittle it had become inside.

You can buy steel-mesh hoses at the local hardware store for $25, which is only five or six bucks more than less-durable rubber ones. Make it a habit to replace them every five years. Don't wait until you see cracks develop. And make sure your new hoses don't get pinched or kinked behind the washer.

Couple moves washing machine to replace hoses.It's also wise to turn off your water whenever you leave on vacation, so you won't come home to a flood. Turn off the valves in your laundry room, or better yet, turn off the valve for your home's main water line.

You'll enjoy added protection and peace of mind if you also place a water sensor in your laundry room. They're affordable.

That's what PEMCO likes to call "being water-wise."

by  Jon Osterberg

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