As wonderful as a washing machine is, when it comes to saving time and effort, it can also be a troublesome member of the household. It is critical that you perform a washing machine check-up now.
It is reported that washing machines are responsible for more than $150 million of damage in homes across the U.S. every year. Imagine a river flowing from your laundry room with hundreds of gallons of water per hour, pouring over thresholds and flooring, and soaking your furniture and prized collectibles. It happens.
Washing machine hoses score No. 1 in the lineup of the most neglected maintenance items in a home.
Last year, it was also reported that State Farm alone paid more than 7,500 water damage claims from broken washing-machine hoses. These claims ranged from a few hundred dollars to more than $100,000. There are steps you can and should take routinely to make sure this does not happen to you.
SUPPLY HOSE LEAKS
More than 50% of all washing machine water damage claims can be traced back to a supply hose failure. This can be caused by the following:
— The hose got pinched during installation or when moved, causing a hairline break.
— There is a faulty connection to either the washing machine or wall.
— The hose is old and has become brittle.
If you have a washing machine, you need to check the water inlet or water-fill hoses at least once a year. Not performing a check-up is like not checking the oil in your car. Nothing seems to be amiss with your washer until your life flashes in front of you as you see your sofa floating down the front walkway.
WHAT TO CONSIDER
There are two inlet hoses that connect the machine to the cold and hot water faucets. You cannot tell by simply looking at these hoses whether they need to be replaced. Age, chemicals in the water and build-up of calcium deposits over time can degrade rubber. And to complicate matters further, even a "new" hose could be old, having lived a good deal of its life in a warehouse. You can't tell by simply looking.
However, if you do see a small blister in the rubber of the hose, assume that is a disaster just waiting to happen. If the rubber feels brittle or shows any signs of cracking, replace it immediately.
EVERY 3 YEARS, REGARDLESS
If you cannot remember ever replacing your water inlet hoses, put that on your list for next weekend. Then do it again in three years. Most manufacturers and all insurance companies recommend replacing the hoses every three to five years. You cannot be too cautious.
TWO TYPES OF HOSES
There are two types of hoses available: rubber hoses for about $5 each or braided stainless steel hoses for about $15 each. While stainless steel hoses with a twisted, flexible mesh of stainless steel wire appear to have the edge when it comes to performance, they are not foolproof. The connectors can break loose, and the rubber interior of the metal hose can deteriorate. They must be replaced every three years.
While flexible mesh hoses are a bit more expensive than rubber hoses, the added safety is worth the extra money. The braided stainless steel encases a rubber hose and provides a burst-resistant measure, giving these hoses a lower failure rate when properly installed than rubber hoses.
Installing new hoses is not at all difficult. It's like attaching a garden hose. But beware. Installation error is the biggest cause of premature hose failure. Sharp kinks or bends in the hose can weaken the hose itself or the seal at the connector.
To prevent this, you need to allow 3 to 4 inches between the back of the washing machine and the wall. If you have a tight installation area, such as an old, shallow laundry closet, there are hoses that have right-angle connectors, allowing the machine to be placed closer to the wall. You may have to special order this unusual item.
Need help with performing a washing machine check-up or figuring out which hoses you need? The online site RepairClinic.com will come to your rescue with diagnoses, repair instructions and maintenance tips for all your household appliances.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary a Question." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014. To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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