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I caught an episode of "This Old House" a couple weeks back and it was mentioned that washing machine hoses should be replaced every couple of years. I'd never heard this and don't know of anyone that does that.

I always thought they were an inspect & repair as necessary item.

Obviously the goal is to minimize risk of leakage, with there being increased risk of breakage/leakage as they age. Although, there's also risk of sudden failure with new ones that might be internally defective while looking fine on the outside (hasn't happened to me on my washer, but did on my car, with a 2 week old hose bursting while I was idling in a parking lot).

Facts? Industry best practices? Opinions? :-)

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

I don't know of any specific schedule, but I can recommend several "best practices":

  1. Buy braided hoses. These are the metal hoses with an inner plastic tubing. They are NOT guaranteed not to fail, but their failure is much less likely. Their most vulnerable failure point would be at the connection to the coupling.
  2. Inspect the hoses annually.
  3. Do not allow the hoses to kink - allow plenty of space for their installation.

Failed "fail proof" hose at the coupling:

enter image description here

You could also buy special high quality ($50) hoses - which frankly if you have a finished basement or your laundry is on an upper floor, is a sound investment in damage prevention.

enter image description here

Perhaps your BEST prevention, however, is an automatic washing machine shut off valve:

enter image description here enter image description here

This device has an attached sensor (pic 2) which you set on the floor by your washing machine. In the event of a leaky washer OR failed hose, it senses the water and shuts off the flow at the source. For an under $200 investment, if you're protecting a $20,000 basement or worse, a whole house, not installing this once you know of it's existence would be downright foolish.

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+1, Haven't seen the automatic shutoff valve before, but I like it. –  BMitch Oct 21 '11 at 12:32
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For those looking for more details on the automatic shutoff: watts.com/pages/learnAbout/intelliflow.asp –  BMitch Oct 21 '11 at 13:45
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+1 An auto shutoff valve is a really good investment for any washer that is installed in a finished space. The price of these units have dropped considerably, so no reason not to have one installed. The unit Greebo listed is great because it has a sensor with also protects from a leaky machine or broken drain hose. –  shirlock homes Oct 22 '11 at 10:53
    
A number of appliances have these shut off valves built in now. Bosch have something called Leak Guard. While Miele call theirs Double Water Proof Protection. Basically the sensor is built into the appliance and the valve attaches to the tap/faucet. Power for the valve runs through the water hose. –  Matt Jul 7 '13 at 20:08
    
Of course, inlet coupling could be seen as a point of failure (so could the leak sensor fail!). I've never had a hose fail nor an inlet coupling. My parents house had several failure points in plastic plumbing (which was new on the market at the time) than washing machine hoses. –  Matt Jul 7 '13 at 20:14
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In addition to what Greebo said, they also make hoses with the shutoff built into the hose, but the reviews on these are pretty bad and won't stop a small leak.

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Interesting but there's an obvious point of failure there - the inlet coupling. I'd steer clear, personally. –  The Evil Greebo Oct 21 '11 at 12:40
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@TheEvilGreebo, Not to mention a small leak can be up to the size that your washer uses to fill the tank, which would be a lot of water. The only thing this helps with is a burst hose. The automatic shutoff you posted seems to be the best of the choices. –  BMitch Oct 21 '11 at 13:15
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@TheEvilGreebo - The leak sensor could also fail on the shutoff valve solution you propose. But still worth putting in nonetheless. I'd go for such a system + good quality hoses. If your washer has this built in too then you have little chance of a major leak. –  Matt Jul 7 '13 at 20:17
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