Far too many times I’ve heard testimony and seen the aftermath of what can happen from a washing machine flood caused by a burst water supply line. And no, the washer doesn’t have to be running in order for this to occur, in fact the washer being “on” has nothing to do with it.
What causes the flood is this: the water supply lines that run from the shut-off valves (wall connections) to your washing machine are always under pressure, meaning you turn the washer on and water immediately jets out. Those supply lines are typically made of PVC or rubber. Now here’s the rub (pun intended)—rubber and PVC degrades and overtime can crack, rot, and rupture, causing a pressurized geyser of water that will run and run until the valve is shut off.
“Burst!” went the water supply line. Nightmare.
This catastrophe happened to my Aunt Rose-Marie in Brooklyn. She went to church, then out to eat. When she came home a few hours later, the entire kitchen was flooded (yep, an old school house with the washer still in the kitchen). To make matters worse, my Aunt didn’t know how to shut off the water so it continued to run until my cousin Sal got there to help. Water was everywhere–not even Holy Water was welcome at this point.
All that water eventually seeped down, causing the century old plaster walls to buckle, and the basement to flood too. A nightmare.
This, my friends, is why you need to replace those old supply lines… and also why it’s always a good idea to turn the water off to the house when you leave for over 24hrs, as any fixture is potentially subject to springing a leak from a valve, hose, pipe, etc.
How To Avert A Disastrous Washing Machine Flood
What you should know about flexible supply lines…
Water runs to your fixtures via pipes that come from behind the wall or floor. At the point they exit the wall or floor, these pipes have shut-off valves. Supply lines are attached to these valves and run to the fixtures and appliances in your kitchen and bathroom. The supply lines may be rigid or flexible. Flexible supply lines, a.k.a. hoses, tubing, etc., are easy to replace and I highly recommend they be upgraded.
The gold standard of flexible supply lines is known as “NO-BURST.” They’re made of braided stainless steel with an inner neoprene liner. Their failure rate is slim to none. They’re also a brushed-stainless finish that are good looking too—a plus where lines are visible like under pedestal sinks.
Flexible supply lines come in different lengths, so you need to know the distance from the shut-off valve to the fixture before you buy a replacement. Most importantly you must know and specify to the salesperson what the line is for, since your washing machine, toilet, sink, etc. have different size fittings. Your best bet is to take the old hose with you.
How to replace flexible supply lines to your washing machine*…
- Tongue and groove pliers
- Teflon tape
- Turn off the shut-off valves (wall connections) that supply the water to the washer (or particular fixture).
- To remove the old lines, with tongue and groove pliers, unscrew the supply fitting at the shut-offs, then the fittings at the washer.
- Give a couple of spins of Teflon tape (clock-wise) on to the threads at the wall and washer connections.
- Screw on the new lines, first by hand, then one turn with your pliers. (Sometimes a toilet supply line has a plastic winged nut that should only be tightened by hand. Do not over tighten—if you do, it will squash the washer inside the fitting, causing it to lose its ability to create a seal.)
- Turn on the shut-off valve and check for leaks. If it’s dripping from one of the fittings, give another twist with the pliers to snug a bit more—that will do the trick.
* FYI – these same steps would apply to replacing your toilet and sink supply lines, as well.
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Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.