Prevent Water Damage from Washing Machines

Washing machine water leaks are one of the top 10 sources of water damage to homes. Follow the advice below to help avoid common issues caused by a washing machine leaking inside the home.

IBHS Recommendations for Reducing Washing Machine-Related Water Damage

The failure of a water supply hose is the primary cause of loss. Conduct monthly inspections of the hot and cold washing machine supply lines:

  • Look for signs the supply hose may be ready to fail. These include blisters in the hose, worn tubing, stress cracks or a loose connection.
  • Replace the supply hose with a reinforced steel braided hose if it shows any sign of wear.
  • Tighten the connection if it feels loose. The most common site of failure is near the connection where the hose bends.
  • Replace supply hoses every five years, even if there is no obvious deterioration or wear. Some signs of deterioration may occur from the inside out and may not be visible until it is too late. When replacing washing machine supply hoses, always choose a reinforced steel braided hose over the traditional un-reinforced rubber hose. These hoses will last longer and are far less likely to result in a catastrophic water loss.

To further reduce the risk of failure, turn off the hot and cold water supply valves when the machine is not in use. Always turn off the valves if you will be away for several days. Screw type valves can be difficult to operate and may develop leaks around the shaft. If a valve is not operating properly or is leaking, replace it immediately. A better solution—and one that will make shutting off the water supply easier—is to install a dual ball valve lever operated valve. This type of valve is easier to operate than a traditional gate valve since it turns on both the hot and cold water supply with a single lever.

Finally, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to reduce the risk of other types of washing machine-related water losses:

  • Never overload a machine
  • Always use a detergent designed for this type of use
  • Try to operate washing machines when someone is home

Washing Machine Failure Facts

A multi-company and multi-region study of homeowners’ insurance claims from water damage revealed:

  • Washing machine-related failures are one of the top 10 leading sources of residential water losses.
  • These failures cost an average of $5,308 per incident after the deductible was paid.
  • Failures of supply hoses accounted for more than half of all washing machine-related losses.
  • Of the water supply hose failures resulting in water loss claims, 78% involved washing machines that were less than 11 years old. Of these failures, 54% occurred in washing machines between 8 and 10 years old.
  • Approximately 6% of all washing machine failures occurred in unoccupied homes.
  • Failures that occurred in unoccupied homes resulted in claims that were on average nearly two-and-a-half times more severe than those occurring in occupied homes.