Avoiding water damage from washing machine

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Old 01-15-08, 10:03 AM
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Question Avoiding water damage from washing machine

Newbie here. I have a front-loading washer (4 y/o) in my first floor laundry room. We are looking to finish our basement this year, and I'd like to take measures to prevent any water damage to the finished area below in the event a problem happens to the washer or its plumbing connection.

I have considered a drain pan for the washer, and although that should help somewhat, I am looking for a more complete solution to prevent water damage to the room below. I am thinking of some kind of floor drain, etc. The other issue is that the home builder extended the hard wood floor into our laundry room. Although it is nice flooring, I was thinking a less expensive flooring (laminate?) would be more water tight. Dunno why he did that, but it would seem water might leak through the floor seams eventually.

Anyway, I plan to have the laundry room drainage addressed when I get some estimates for the basement. I would appreciate any helpful feedback on what approaches I should look into. Thanks!
 
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Old 01-15-08, 01:59 PM
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All you can do won't ever be enough. But I added Flood Safe stainless steel braid supply lines to mine, just in case. I know it isn't fool proof, but should the line burst, it will shut off immediately. The pan is a good idea, and hopefully you will never need it. Install a single control shut off valve for your washer and use it after you are through washing clothes.
 
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Old 01-15-08, 03:51 PM
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Here the comments that go into our home inspection reports, these are "FYI" section items as these are conditions are not considered "defects":

Observation: (FYI) - Washing machines are connected to the supply plumbing via flexible hoses.

Analysis: A leak in washer hoses can cause damage to wall and floor areas. These leaks can sometimes go undetected for a considerable period of time as they occur behind the washer. Also, these hoses can burst. A burst hose can spill 300-500 gallons per hour into the house. Washer hoses are especially prone to failure if they are kinked at their connection to the washer or the water shut-off valve, this can be prevented by installing an inexpensive "gooseneck connector" at such locations. Usually the hoses supplied with a new washing matching are "commodity" items, it is not unusual for them to fail before the washer is replaced. Higher quality hoses are available, for example from Floodchek http://www.floodchek.com/. In addition to leaks caused by failed hoses, mechanical failure of a washer can cause significant leaks. A higher level of protection can be provided by installing a special valve that turns off water when the washer is not running (Watts Inc.'s "Intelliflow), or that senses a leak at the floor and shuts off the water to the washing machine (Floodstop Inc.), or user that uses multiple sensors to shut the water supply to entire house (Sharp Inc:'s Hydroguard", DynaQuip's "WaterCop"), for example: http://www.plumbingsupply.com/clothe...seshutoff.html

Recommendation: Consider upgrading your washing machine hoses or installing an automatic shutoff, especially if you intend to run the washer unattended. Consider the installation of gooseneck adapters if hoses are sharply bent.

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Observation: (FYI) This washer is provided with a drain pan to protect surrounding areas from washer leaks.

Analysis: In our opinion and experience a drain pan under the washer does not provide reasonably complete protection against leaking and bursting hoses as failing hoses can spray water outside the pan's footprint.

Recommendation: Install additional waterproof material behind the washer in such a manner that water sprayed against the wall or sideways behind the washer will be directed into the pan.
 
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Old 01-15-08, 09:07 PM
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Get one of those little audible alarms you see at the hardware store that detect moisture. Place it behind the washer, it will tell you right away if there is a leak! $10 plus a 9volt battery. Also, put one by your sump, water heater/humidifier/AC condensate or floordrain (those are all usually in same room).
 
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Old 01-16-08, 03:22 AM
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Those are great for detecting slow leaks (and I'd add "under sinks" to your list of locations) but not much help if you have a burst hose - which can do substantial damage in seconds - or if you are not at home when a leak occurs.
 
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Old 01-16-08, 07:58 AM
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Thumbs up Detectors

Wow - great advice from all. Thanks!

I have already installed those battery powered moisture detectors near the water heater, -and- near the sump pump - in case that sucker dies during a major storm. I purchased only those two, but it looks like I'll add a few more.

I will also look into replacing the washer hoses as well as the shutoff valve, which someone else mentioned to me. Right now we turn off the supply valves - when we think of it. An upgrade is needed there.

Thanks again
 
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Old 01-16-08, 08:08 AM
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We had a thread similar to this a week or so ago. Lots of recommendations to shut off the WM supply after each use. Why don't we also shut off tub, vanity and DW and sink supplies?

IMO the answer is that all of the above are usually supplied with braided hoses. I see no reason why a braided WM hoses should be less reliable.
 
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Old 01-16-08, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by cwbuff View Post
We had a thread similar to this a week or so ago. Lots of recommendations to shut off the WM supply after each use. Why don't we also shut off tub, vanity and DW and sink supplies?
All I can tell you is this: when I'm inspecting a condo and I find an in-unit laundry, the first place I look is up - often I will find evidence of a previous leak from the unit above, but I seldom see this below kitchens from ice makers and dishwashers.

My guess is: 1) The washer's vibration stresses the hoses 2) a leak is less likely to be observed immediately and 3) when a washer hose fails you are putting dozens/hundreds/thousands of gallons water into the structure. And even a slow leak can have unpleasant and expensive consequences: I've seen a situations (a vacation home) where a slow leak (drip) over a period of weeks saturated the sub flooring out the laundry, down the hall and into bedrooms 20" feet away, buckling the parquet flooring in each room as it advanced and eventually swelling enough under a structural wall to displace it upwards and move the roof above - all this as a result of a drip from pin-hole failure in a washer hose.
 
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