When washing machines go to the dark side, they usually go bad, super bad, a cat trying to keep its footing during a tornado bad.
We’re not just talking about wet laundry here. We’re talking about a flooded house.
According to a Roto-Rooter study, most household floods and water damage are caused by plumbing or appliance failure. The damage for these disasters can up to hundreds and even tens of thousands of dollars.
And as Geico’s popular radio commercial on home washing machine flooding threats sarcastically notes, it’s not like your washing machine is going to call you with advance warning that it’s getting ready to flood.
Amrita Pathania of Hatfield, Pa., learned the hard way of the costly dangers of using a malfunctioning washing machine. As documented on ABC Television’s “Good Morning, America,” Pathania’s family washing machine flooded, causing a whopping $24,000 of home water damage. After the damage, Pathania was left looking for “normalcy” and “peace of mind” in her next washer, because “we simply can’t afford to have this happen again.”
Oftentimes, home washing machine floods come without warning. Often compounding washing machine flooding issues is the fact that many home insurance policies won’t cover damage that is caused by faulty pipes or drains or inadequate air supply to the appliance. Thus, already damaged washers are not covered. Also, washers damaged by weather, pets or improper installation are not covered.
Paul Berger, an insurance adjuster at Claim Solvers in Florida and an insurance attorney, told NetQuote.com the general rule is that only breaks and sudden damage are covered by standard home insurance coverage.
Most policies feature a maintenance clause that excludes damage by problems that could have been fixed by the policyholder.
“The purpose of the maintenance clause is to encourage homeowners to repair items such as leaky sinks and toilets before they cause severe damage and require filing a claim,” Berger said.
A Home Flood Lying In Wait
By its very working nature, a malfunctioning washing machine is a home flooding disaster waiting to happen. Conventional washers use more than 30 gallons of water per load. Modern Energy Star-rated models use 10 to 20 gallons. Even a minor flooding is a huge mess to clean up and is a significant amount of water loss.
Washing machine floods are chameleons lying in wait. They can originate from numerous unseen sources beneath and around the base of the machine. Water can even flood from the back of washers to the front. Roto-Rooter reports 30 percent of U.S. home floods are the result of appliance failure.
And when a washing machine pipe bursts, so does the ceiling on the potential for quick, devastating financial damage.
“Most homeowners leave washing machine water supply lines turned on so when a hose busts, water can discharge at up to 500 gallons per hour, causing major damage in a short period of time,” State Farm spokesman Douglas Nadeau told NetQuote.com.
Sandbagging A Fast Worsening Problem
The key to minimizing the damage of a home washing machine flood is enacting a quick response plan.
Once you see water pooling around your washer, cut off the electrical power supply to the washer at the circuit breaker or fuse box. Don’t press the cancel button on the washer’s control panel. This could worsen flooding by automatically advancing the drain cycle. Also, do not immediately pull the power plug in the back of the washer. If the cord is exposed to standing water, this could create the potential for electric shock. After cutting the power to the washer, mop or wipe up the floodwater as quickly as possible.
Like a firefighter looking for trapped people, remove all wet or waterlogged laundry with rubber gloves. Place all wet items in a bucket and wring them out over a sink in the laundry room or kitchen. This can be an exhausting process, but it will remove the standing water from the washer, which helps alleviate drainage problems.
Next, investigate the extend of the flooding. Carefully pull the washer away from the back wall to gain access to the washer’s hoses. Check for dripping or leaking water from the hose connections as well as puddles on the floor. Tighten the connection for hot water and cold water supply hoses than run from the back of the washer to the faucet on the laundry room wall. Also ensure that single drain hoses – usually located in the center of the two water supply hoses – are secure on both ends.
Once you feel secure you’ve resolved the flooding situation, restore electrical power to the washer.
The machine should be able to normally supply and pump the water out of the drum or tub with the hose secure. Do not add any dirty laundry or detergent to the machine. Rather, test a regular wash or rinse-only cycle and monitor the machine closely for any flooding until the cycle is complete. If all goes well, proceed washing clothes as usual. If there are any issues, consult a professional immediately.
Do not use the washing machine again until it operates a cycle without issue.
How To Build A Home Washing Machine Flood Wall
The biggest key to avoiding a home washing machine flooding disaster is to eliminate the risk.
Joseph King, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, suggests inspecting washing machine hoses often.
“If they’re original equipment and more than 5 years old, replace them with stronger steel-braided hoses,” King said.
Also, install an automatic shut-off valve (which are easy to self-install and cost about $100 on average) equipped with an alarm to alert you to any hose problems.
A home washing machine flooding disaster is a nightmare no homeowner wants to open their laundry room door to, but smart preventive measures and a quick response plan can ensure this disaster doesn’t leave you, your family and your home adrift in costly water.