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Take some precautions now or risk water damage later

There are a couple things I do well in life. One is annoy my wife, the other is repeat myself.

I annoy my wife and repeat myself.

Those qualities combined a few months ago when she was ill. I was doing the laundry, and I failed twice to even get the washer started.

Upon my third try at starting the thing, a strained voice in a tone that indicated annoyance rolled down the stairs. It was Mrs. Pfeifer with helpful advice “you have to turn the water on … idiot”.

She loves me.

Turning the water off to the washing machine is advice, which I repeat to customers and more often than that to my wife. She employed that advice and I managed to forget giving it to her.

So why turn the water off to the washer when it is not in use? Because washer hoses burst. If it does happen, look out. I did an experiment with a wide-open water line and found that it spewed nearly 2 gallons of water every 30 seconds. That’s about 240 gallons of water every hour.

Household water pressure varies but normally hovers at about 50 psi. Rubber washing machine hoses are built to withstand that pressure.

However, the manufacturers of these hoses are very clear and their packages explicit – the supply valves should be turned off when the washer is not in use. Additionally, rubber hoses should never exceed five years of service.

Stronger hoses made of PVC and sheathed in braided stainless steel are available.

They cost about 30 percent more than rubber but the holding power exceeds the water pressure of your home.

These hoses are generally safe to leave charged at all times, but since they have rubber, garden hose washers and since we rarely check our laundry area for leaks, I still suggest turning the valves off when not using the machine.

To simplify the process, one can purchase and install a washing machine shut-off valve.

This device is a one-handled valve that controls both the hot and cold water with a flip of the handle. Installation is easy and with the use of solderless pipe fittings can be done quickly.

Washing machine valves are normally high-quality units with a long life expectancy unlike most of the valves which are commonly found in laundry hook-ups. So even though they are a little pricey at $30 to $40, they offer benefits.

Remember, taking the aforementioned precautions is just one more way to protect your home.

I opt for over-protection. I installed a one-handled shut off valve, I use braided stainless steel hoses and yes I, or more accurately, Mrs. Pfeifer turns the water off when the machine is not in use.

After all, a bit of redundancy never hurt anyone.

Ed Pfeifer is the owner of Pfeifer Hardware Inc., 300 Marshall Way, Mars. If you have questions, call the store at 724-625-9090.


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