A leaking washing machine can wreak havoc on your home. When there’s a leak, water will spill out of the appliance freely until you realize it’s happening and shut off the water. Often, serious water damage is done to things like your flooring and furniture before you can resolve the leak. That’s why it’s smart to do what you can to avoid damage brought on by a leaking washing machine.

Although there are many reasons an appliance can malfunction, there are some common reasons that washing machines spring leaks.

To prevent the stress and damage that accompanies a leak, consider these tips:

  • Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installation and maintenance. It’s easy to hook up your machine and just leave it assuming all is well, but that isn’t always the case.
  • Make sure there is at least 4 inches between the wall and your washer so that the hoses aren’t kinked.
  • Don’t use too much laundry detergent, and make sure you purchase only high-efficiency detergent if you have that kind of machine. Too much soap can clog the overflow tube and cause a leak.
  • Never overload your washing machine and use it only when someone is home.
  • Make sure the drain hose is completely inserted into the main drain line so it won’t become loose when the washer runs.
  • Monitor and replace the supply hoses, which can become brittle and crack. Especially check the end of the hoses close to the connections. Constant water pressure is hard on hoses and they can break suddenly. Even if you don’t see exterior wear, replace them every five years. Avoid using rubber or plastic hoses, but use reinforced stainless steel braided hoses that are less prone to damage.
  • Examine the connections for moisture, drips, rust or discoloration.
  • Install a washing machine leak detector with an alarm that alerts you if it detects water on the floor. It will also close the valves so that flooding doesn’t continue. When you hear the alarm go off, you can resolve the issue without great risk of water damage and can restart your washer after resetting the leak detector.
  • If your washing machine has a dual-lever shutoff valve, consider replacing it with a single-lever valve to allow you to cut off both hot and cold water simultaneously. This provides a very simple way to turn off the water supply to the machine when it’s not in use so that you avoid any leak emergencies. This is especially important when you’ll be away for an extended time.
  • Place a washing machine leak pan under your machine to help catch leaks. Check it occasionally to ensure water is not collecting so that you can make repairs before a spill-over occurs.
  • Consider having a plumber install supply valves with automatic shutoff and water sensor features. These have electronic control devices that open the water valves when the machine is receiving electrical current, but closes them when the machine is not in use.

Following these guidelines will reduce the chances of a washing machine leak and resulting water damage. If you do have a leak that gets out of hand and damages your flooring, consult a qualified local flooring company to restore your home to its best condition.