Household appliance failure accounts for a significant portion of residential flood damage claims. Performing periodic inspections and maintenance will reduce the possibility of appliance breakdown and lessen the risk of a significant water event. Although such vigilance may reduce the risk of catastrophic appliance failure, even the most thorough inspections and meticulous maintenance schedules do not guarantee flood prevention.
The following will identify three household appliances that pose a flood risk. Possible avenues of water damage will be discussed for each, as well as inspection procedures and maintenance techniques aimed at reducing the risk of malfunction and household flooding. Finally, water damage restoration options will be provided in the unfortunate event of appliance failure despite diligent oversight.
Washing Machine Malfunction & Flood Damage
Washing machine malfunction is one of the primary sources of water damage in the home. Age and frequency of use are determining factors in the lifespan of a washing machine and the potential for catastrophic failure over time. Additionally, ancillary issues associated with water delivery to as well as drainage from the washing machine can cause significant water damage.
Washing Machine User Error & Water Damage
Flood damage involving the washing machine is frequently the result of user error. Leaking water during a wash cycle often indicates excess. Overloading with clothing and/or adding too much detergent are examples of excesses that can cause failure and ultimately flooding.
Understanding operating procedures and capacity of a particular unit is conducive to trouble free use. Familiarity with and strict adherence to guidelines detailed in the user manual for load limits are essential to trouble free function.
Washing Machine Mechanical Failure & Flood Damage
Washing machine failure may also be associated with worn parts. The lifespan of most washing machines is between 8 and 10 years. Replacing a dated unit is considerably less costly than water damage restoration services required by household flooding.
Defective components in a late model washing machine can likewise lead to flooding. Although rare, mistakes made during the manufacturing process can result in unforeseen water damage issues.
Washing Machine Water Circulation & Water Damage
Ancillary mechanisms associated with water delivery to the system as well as discharge and drainage lines can similarly fail. Hoses, and drains serving the unit merit frequent inspection and maintenance to stave off potential flooding.
Water supply hoses are responsible for the vast majority of washing machine associated floods as well as the most expansive water damage. Water delivery hoses are under constant pressure, and if compromised can release 5 gallons of water per minute until the problem is discovered and the water turned off.
Flooding associated with the water discharge hose can result from a poor connection to the washing machine, improper attachment to the receiving area, or a damaged hose. Additionally, a blockage in the discharge basin or drain line serving the washing machine can cause an overflow. Although flooding caused by water discharge failures do not have the potential to reach the magnitude of supply line failures, washing machine cycles can release as much as 45 gallons and cause considerable damage.
Washing Machines & Flood Prevention
Schedule laundry day for a time when it is possible to remain at home and actively monitor the washing machine. Such an arrangement may uncover fledgling problems that become evident during a wash cycle. Issues that arise can then be quickly addressed, possibly preventing significant water damage.
Many washers drain into a utility tub, and a blocked or clogged drain can cause water to overflow. Regularly cleaning lint and other debris from the drain will help keep water flowing freely. Using a mesh drain trap can reduce the chances of clog an overflow but must be routinely inspected for lint build up and cleaned.
Inspect hoses delivery and drainage hoses frequently. Signs of impending leaks include blisters, bulges, cracks, discoloration, and kinks. If discovered, have damaged hoses replaced immediately. It should be noted that braded steel water delivery hoses, although not infallible, are considerably more reliable than the rubber lines of yesteryear.
Dishwasher Malfunction & Flood Damage
Close attention to age and longevity is fundamental when discussing the potential for appliance failure. This universal truth is a prime consideration when determining the possibility for flooding due to a dishwasher leak. With an expected life span of approximately 10-12 years, it is incumbent upon the homeowner to arrange replacement of a dated unit before problems can arise.
Dishwasher User Error & Water Damage
Ordinary detergents create more foam than dishwasher detergent. If used in a dishwasher, ordinary detergents can produce excessive suds that cause unreasonable expansion. The result of this misuse could be water damage caused by a dishwasher door seal to leak. Using detergents specifically designed for dishwashers is essential to avoiding such an eventuality.
Reliable operation requires that a dishwasher be level to prevent a skewed water level. If listing toward the door, water levels could rise above the seal causing a leak during normal operation. Additionally, failure to properly level a dishwasher can cause the dishwasher door to improperly contact adjacent cabinetry, misaligning the door and compromising the door seal.
Dishwasher Water Circulation & Flood Damage
Clogs in the drainage system are a common cause of dishwasher malfunction. Running the dishwasher only when someone is present to monitor operation is the best way to subvert a leak early before it causes significant water damage.
Dishwasher filters trap food particles and debris dislodged during the cleaning process. Failure to regularly clean the filter of the trapped debris can result in an unreasonable accumulation of foreign matter and slowed or blocked drainage. Blocked or slow draining dishwashers can cause excess water buildup, which will escape through the door seal onto the floor.
Leakage from the dishwasher can occur due to the lack of a proper door seal. Dishwashers commonly have an upper and lower door seal. If either is compromised, it may allow water to escape the tub and possibly case water damage to surrounding building materials.
The water inlet valve is responsible for feeding water from the water line into the dishwasher. Water valve malfunction can ultimately lead to system leakage and water damage to surrounding building materials. Incomplete cleaning is an issue indicative of a faulty water valve and should prompt a call for professional assistance.
Hoses and hose clamps play an essential role in circulating water through the dishwasher and to the drain. Loose or broken clamps can allow water to escape at attachment points, resulting in water damage. Likewise, compromised water delivery and drainage hoses can unexpectedly release water.
Dishwasher water delivery hoses are under constant pressure, and if compromised can release 5 gallons of water per minute until the problem is discovered and the water turned off. Flooding associated with dishwasher discharge hose failures do not have the potential to reach the magnitude of supply line failures, however dishwashers discharge approximately 6 gallons per cycle, which can cause considerable damage.
Additionally, a blockage in the drain line serving the dishwasher will not allow water to escape, causing water levels within the dishwasher to rise, escape the door seal and flood the kitchen.
Dishwashers & Flood Prevention
Running the dishwasher when monitoring is possible can reveal leakage issues during the wash cycle. Developing problems uncovered during operation can be halted by simply stopping the wash cycle, and possibly preventing significant water damage.
Dishwashers generally drain into a ‘knock out’ on the side of a garbage disposal, directly into a drain line or into a sink in the case of a portable unit. Keeping drain lines clear and flowing will allow unimpeded circulation. Blocked drains, however, will not allow water to escape the system and water pressure will buildup pushing water through the door seal.
Circulation systems pose the greatest threat to excessive flooding and therefore merit the most cautious oversight. Periodic inspection of dishwasher door gaskets to determine condition is essential to leak prevention. If worn or damaged, immediate replacement is warranted. Additionally, regular cleaning of the dishwasher filter will allow unrestricted drainage and avoid door seal leakage. Once again, braided steel water delivery hoses, although not infallible, are considerably more reliable than the rubber lines of yesteryear.
Refrigerator Malfunction & Flood Damage
Several organizations have bandied slightly differing numbers concerning the average life expectancy of a household refrigerator. According to the United States Department of Energy, refrigerators last approximately 12 years. Once obsolete, unit replacement is essential to avoiding problems that are intrinsic to dated appliances.
Regular inspection and strict adherence to maintenance schedules are common themes governing water damage prevention when discussing appliances. Vigilance can uncover potential problems or burgeoning issues that, if addressed, can prevent a flood or curtail ongoing water damage.
Refrigerator User Error & Water Damage
Refrigerators should be properly balanced for optimal performance. Improperly balanced units can restrict coolant migration, which will then require more energy to regulate the temperature. This eventuality will cause condensation on the coils, which can then overtax the drip pan causing an overflow and water damage.
Understanding proper operation and maintenance specific to the unit is conducive to optimum performance. Familiarity with and strict adherence to guidelines detailed in the user manual can prevent problem relating to water damage.
Refrigerator Water Delivery & Flood Damage
Water supply lines serving refrigerator ice makers and water dispensers are the primary cause for water damage involving this appliance. Typically made from brittle plastic tubing, refrigerator water supply lines are susceptible to damage and failure. Additionally, these delicate water lines are under constant pressure, and if compromised will release a continuous stream of water until the issue is discovered and the water turned off.
Moreover, movement of water from the water source to the refrigerators on board water supply line is often carried by temperamental ¼” plastic or copper tubing attached to a saddle valve. This configuration is prone to damage and should be immediately replaced with a braided steel supply line fed by a full size 3/8” valve.
Refrigerator defrost drains can become blocked by a buildup of ice, debris, or a gelatin like bacterial growth. If the drain clogs, water will back up into the freezer. On top freezers, this water will then run into the fresh food section and eventually onto the floor. On side-by-sides and bottom freezers, the water will collect in the bottom of the freezer then once the bottom is full of ice, the water will run out of the door onto the floor. Allowing this issue to continue unchecked, water will eventually freeze in the air ducts causing the refrigerator to stop cooling. This could result in unintended thawing and water damage.
Methods used to defrost drains depend upon the source of the problem. Most commonly, an ice blockage is the source of the problem and can be corrected by flushing with warm water or in more extreme cases, defrosting the refrigerator. If blocked by debris or microbial growth clearing this port can be accomplished by compressed air or by ‘snaking’ the drain.
If the rubber seal on the fridge door is dry and cracked, it needs to be replaced, as it can allow warm air into the freezer, causing the fridge to work harder to maintain its temperature. This can result in ice buildup in the water line or freezer that can cause leakage.
Refrigerators & Flood Prevention
Understanding the warning signs of developing problems and addressing the issues in a timely manner is fundamental to preventing flooding due to refrigerator malfunction. Every possible scenario cannot be anticipated and avoided, but rudimentary preventative measures should be implemented.
Signs of refrigerator breakdown include inadequate cooling, accelerated spoilage, condensation formation, Ice buildup, noisy operation, and a hot motor. Unless adept at assessment and repair, any of the aforementioned issues warrant professional assistance.
Finally, routine inspection and timely maintenance are essential to avoiding or identifying system failures that could result in flood damage. Refrigerator breakdown not only involves the cost of repair but also the possibility of food spoilage and flooding requiring water damage restoration.
Appliance Malfunction & Flood Restoration
Water damage is one of the most common and potentially destructive problems a property owner can face. Excess water can cause electrical hazards, compromise structural integrity, destroy valuable contents and even lead to hazardous microbial activity. Water damage is progressive, pervasive and can result in permanent damages if emergency water mitigation response is delayed. Quickly engaging water mitigation services will reduce or prevent ancillary damages.
Property Recovery 911 is prepared and on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our rapid response water damage restoration professionals can be on site within 1 hour protecting your interests. Contact us at (267) 808-7200 to prevent or alleviate the devastating effects of water damage and to safely dry, deodorize and disinfect the affected areas.