How to Protect Your Home from Washing Machine Water Damage
Did you know washing machines are one of the most common sources of water damage in the home? It’s true! But there are things you can do to reduce the risk. Take these steps to prevent water damage and protect your home today.
Follow manufacturer recommendations. Not only do the manufacturer recommendations give you the best results when washing your clothes, they can help you prevent leaks or damaging your machine. Make sure not to overload the machine and always use a detergent designed specifically for the type of machine you have. Check to see if they have other guidelines, too.
Do laundry when you’re home. It’s tempting to throw in a load and then go run some errands but if you’re not actively monitoring your laundry you open yourself up to more potential damage from a water leak. Instead, schedule your laundry for times when you’re home, so you can swoop right in and manage any water issues immediately.
Check the hose. A loose or worn hose can be an obvious source of a leak. Inspect the tubing for cracks, worn spots or blisters. If you don’t have a reinforced steel braided hose, you might want to upgrade to add some reliable protection. Then check to make sure the connections are secure and tighten any that feel loose. Remember that wear and tear can happen from the inside as well as the outside. To be on the safe side, make it a habit to replace the hoses every five years or so.
Check the water supply valves. Make sure your water supply valves don’t have any leaks of their own and are easy to turn. If you’re going to be gone from your home for an extended period of time, it’s a great idea to turn off the hot and cold water supply so you don’t have to worry about any leaks happening in this area. If you only do laundry once a week, you might also want to consider turning off the water supply between laundry days.
Keep your utility sink clear. Many washing machines rely on a utility tub or sink to hold overflow water and filter it down the drain throughout the wash process. A clogged drain can cause water to back-up and overflow. Similarly a cracked tub will leak and may actually break under the water pressure. Regularly cleaning lint, pet hair and other debris from the drain will help keep water flowing freely. An inexpensive, plastic drain snake is a great little tool to use here. You can even prevent debris from getting into the pipes in the first place with a simple mesh drain trap.
If there is a crack in the basin, check with your local hardware store to see what they recommend for repairing your basin. Some basins are made of plastic and some are ceramic or concrete, each of these requires a different sealant for the best results.
Watch the sewer. If you do not have a utility sink, your washing machine drains directly into the sewer. If there is a history of sewage backup or if you recently have experienced storms with flood waters, you’ll want to be on the lookout for water that’s not draining properly. Your septic system may not be able to handle laundry water if it is having problems processing sewage or storm waters. If this is an ongoing problem in your home, you might need a sump pump or a professional plumber to come up with a permanent solution so you don’t have to worry about water damage.
Check the pump. The water pump or drain pump is what takes the water from the tub out. Sometimes the pump will be the culprit of your water problems and the fix might be as simple as a loose hose clamp or leaking hose. To check the pump you’ll have to remove the access panel, which is typically in the back or front of your machine, and then the pump is located in the base area. Remember to turn unplug your washing machine or turn off the electricity to that area before attempting any home repairs. And, you can always call a professional if you feel uncomfortable tackling this project yourself.
Keep a safe distance. If you pull out your washing machine for cleaning or maintenance, make sure you don’t pinch the line when you push it back into place. The hoses and pipes behind the washer need a little space, so it’s best to keep some distance between the wall and the back of the machine. Usually a few inches is enough, but each machine is different so checking the manufacturer’s recommendations is the best way to determine your distance.
Get a leak detector. A smart home water sensor is actually an early detection system that can tell when a leak has started and alert your phone so you can give it the attention it needs immediately. If you want to invest a little more, you can get one of these devices that can actually shut off the water if there’s a leak. There’s another little bonus, some of these smart solutions will earn you a discount on your homeowners insurance. Check with your American Family Insurance agent to learn more.
The good news is that most homeowners insurance policies will help cover water damage that is caused by your washing machine. If you have any questions about your policy or if you’ve had some water damage, connect with your American Family Insurance agent to learn more. If you need to file a claim, your agent will help you get started.