Christmas Tree Fires
This report provides estimates of the causes and circumstances of home structure fires that began with the ignition of Christmas trees during the five-year period of 2010-2014. Trend data are also presented. Previously published descriptions of Christmas tree fires are also included to show how these fires can happen.
- U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 210 home1 structure fires per year that began with Christmas trees in 2010-2014. These fires caused an annual average of six civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries, and $16.2 million in direct property damage.
- On average, one of every 34 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are much more likely to be deadly than most other fires.
- Four of every five Christmas tree fires occurred in December and January.
- In one-quarter (26%) of the Christmas tree fires and 80% of the deaths, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.
1Homes include one- or two-family homes and apartments or other multi-family housing
Dealing with Water Damage
A pipe burst, your washing machine broke or it rained a little too much, and suddenly you have your own personal pond down in your basement.
Water problems are a nightmare for homeowners, especially when those problems lead to significant flooding. Dealing with water or flood damage is time-consuming, expensive and isn’t always covered by homeowners insurance. Depending on the amount of damage, restoration can cost between $1,400 – $7,500.
Since it can be so expensive, homeowners might consider taking on some repairs themselves to minimize the amount of money they have to spend. But is this a wise idea? And how can you tell whether the cleanup will be manageable, or if it’s necessary to hire professionals?
Things to Consider
To determine whether you can clean the area up on your own or if you need to call in an expert, you’re going to have to evaluate your situation and consider a few different factors.
A small to moderate amount of water in your home should be manageable on your own, provided you have the proper tools to deal with it. However, if the flooding is significant or is continuing to rise in spite of efforts to curb it, don’t try to deal with it on your own.
If your area is recovering from a large flood or other natural disaster, now isn’t the time to take on a DIY repair project, especially if your home suffered significant damage. Leave this one to the professionals and follow instructions from local disaster relief authorities.
Before you decide to clean up water damage on your own, you first need to figure out where the water is coming from.
There are three different types of water that you may deal with when you have a flooding issue in your home. The type of water will guide you on whether you can do the cleanup yourself or if you need to bring in a professional.
The first type is clean water. Clean water might come from rain or leaky pipes and doesn’t have harmful bacteria growing in it. The second type is called gray water. This is water that comes from sources like your dishwasher or washing machine, and may be slightly contaminated. This type of water can also be safe to clean up yourself, provided you take proper precautions and use appropriate safety gear.
The last type is black water. Black water can come from sewers or flooding from a nearby body of water. Don’t try to clean up this type of water on your own, as it can harbor all kinds of highly infectious organisms and other health hazards.
If you’re unsure about the type of water you’re dealing with, play it safe and call in a professional.
The level of damage is also something to consider. Light damage can usually be taken care of by the homeowner. However, water can cause significant damage to a home and even render elements of it unsafe.
For example, if you’re dealing with bad flooding on one of your house’s upper levels, that water can seep through the floor and damage the ceiling below, which could be hazardous. If the damage is beyond your ability to safely repair, you should hire an expert.
If the flooding is deep, you also have to consider the damage to your electrical and HVAC systems. If any electrical equipment was submerged in water, it’s likely ruined. Those aren’t things you’re going to be able to fix on your own, so there may be a limit to the number of repairs you can DIY.
DIY Water Damage Cleanup
If you’ve determined that the water damage in your home is simple enough to deal with on your own, let’s take a look at the steps you need to take to get the area cleaned up and restored.
The first thing you need to do, whether you’re managing the cleanup yourself or hiring professionals, is turn off all water and electrical sources in your home. To turn off the electricity, you may need to have a licensed electrician remove your home’s electrical meter from its socket to ensure that all electricity has been disconnected.
If you’re going to be wading into the water, it’s a good idea to wear some sort of protective clothing to prevent your skin from coming into contact with the water. Even if the water looks clean, you still can’t be sure it hasn’t been contaminated in some way.
Remove the Water
If the amount of water is very small, you may be able to use a wet vacuum to remove it. If you’ve experienced more significant flooding, you may need to rent a water pump to efficiently get the water out of your home.
If you have a lot of water in your basement, you shouldn’t remove it all at once. Instead, pump out about a third of the water per day, as the water in the ground that surrounds your basement can cause the floors to buckle and the walls to collapse from the sudden loss of pressure from the water inside.
Dry It Out
Because mold can start growing in as few as 24 hours, you’re going to need to be proactive and work fast in drying out the affected areas.
Setting up a few fans can help, but if the damage is over a larger area, you might want to consider renting a large dehumidifier and letting it run for as long as necessary.
Everything that came into contact with flood water will need to be disinfected. If the water contained sewage or other hazardous materials, you should discard any porous materials it touched and make sure everything else is thoroughly sanitized. Do this as soon as possible to prevent mold growth.
Figure Out What Can Be Salvaged
Unfortunately, you may find that most of your stuff won’t be salvageable from flood damage. Water can permanently damage certain materials pretty easily, so you may have to part with the majority of personal items that were in the flooded or water-damaged area.
Some things may be able to be thoroughly dried out and cleaned. Soaked upholstered furniture may not be able to be restored, but you might be able to save wood furniture that hasn’t been sitting in the water for too long.
You may also need to remove any damaged carpeting, drywall, insulation or other similar materials and replace them.
Ultimately, the level of damage will determine whether you need to hire a professional or not. Dealing with substantial flood or water damage can be a scary and stressful time for a homeowner; bringing in an expert can help mitigate a lot of uncertainty. However, if you’re able to do at least a little bit of the cleanup and restoration yourself, in conjunction with a professional, you may be able to save yourself some money.
Water Damage Can be Deceptive
moisture detection meters.
Undetected moisture will continue to cause damage. This damage, at a minimum, will cause odors. Greater damage will surface when materials delaminate, shrink, split and further deteriorate to where costly repairs are required.
More than just removing excess water, IICRC-certified restorers have the knowledge and equipment to further dry a home or facility (including substructure materials) completely back to preloss conditions. Through timely response and the careful monitoring of water damage, mold and other health issues can be prevented. If water damage has been present too long, mold will occur.
All IICRC-certified professionals have the training and experience to identify moisture sources, evaluate mold growth (visible or suspected), contain damage, remove contamination and dry materials to ensure that mold will not return.
While there are many methods for drying structural components and contents, the “in-place” drying system has been taught in the industry and used by drying contractors since the early ’80s. In those days, this method of drying components, without significant removal of furnishings or fixtures, was somewhat restricted, due to limitations imposed by extraction, evaporation and dehumidification equipment. In recent years, however, drying technology (extraction, evaporation, dehumidification), along with better understanding of psychometry, has advanced in major ways so that in-place drying has, in some cases, become far more safe and practical.
Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide Detection
A smoke detector is a device that senses smoke, typically as an indicator of fire. Commercial security devices issue a signal to a fire alarm control panel as part of a fire alarm system, while household smoke detectors, also known as smoke alarms, generally issue a local audible or visual alarm from the detector itself.
Smoke detectors are housed in plastic enclosures, typically shaped like a disk about 150 millimeters (6 in) in diameter and 25 millimeters (1 in) thick, but shape and size vary. Smoke can be detected either optically (photoelectric) or by physical process (ionization), detectors may use either, or both, methods. Sensitive alarms can be used to detect, and thus deter, smoking in areas where it is banned. Smoke detectors in large commercial, industrial, and residential buildings are usually powered by a central fire alarm system, which is powered by the building power with a battery backup. Domestic smoke detectors range from individual battery-powered units, to several interlinked mains-powered units with battery backup; with these interlinked units, if any unit detects smoke, all trigger even if household power has gone out.
The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms. The US National Fire Protection Association reports 0.53 deaths per 100 fires in homes with working smoke alarms compared to 1.18 deaths in homes without . Some homes don't have any smoke alarms, some don't have working batteries; sometimes the alarm fails to detect the fire.
Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide detection
Carbon monoxide sensors detect potentially fatal concentrations of carbon monoxide gas, which may build up due to faulty ventilation where there are combustion appliances such as heaters and cookers, although there is no uncontrolled fire outside the appliance.
High levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) may indicate a fire, and can be detected by a carbon dioxide sensor. Such sensors are often used to measure levels of CO2 which may be undesirable but not indicative of a fire; this type of sensor can also be used to detect and warn of the much higher levels generated by a fire. One manufacturer says that detectors based on CO2 levels are the fastest fire indicators, and also, unlike ionization and optical detectors, detect fires that do not generate smoke, such as those fueled by alcohol or gasoline. CO2 fire detectors are not susceptible to false alarms due to particles, making them particularly suitable for use in dusty and dirty environments.
Check and Test both alarms on a Schedule.
Check with your local Building Code Enforcement, with more details on both items...
Chimney Fires and Smoke damage
A chimney fire is the combustion (burning) of residue deposits referred to as soot or creosote, on the inner surfaces of chimney tiles, flue liners, stove pipes, etc.
The process begins with the incomplete combustion of fuel in the attached appliance, usually a wood or coal stove, or open fire. The unburned volatiles are heated to the vapor state but not consumed due to a lack of adequate heat and oxygen within the appliance. These volatile distillates escape into the chimney, where they contact cooler surfaces and condense into tar-like deposits, and soot. Successive layers accumulate until either the chimney plugs completely, or the chimney reaches a temperature and oxygen level at which the deposit will ignite. Due to the concentrated level of volatile material now present, these fires tend to burn very hot.
Alternatively, a chimney fire may be caused by old bird's nests which have fallen into the chimney and lodged there. When a hot ember ignites the nests, the fire can be just as serious as one caused by ignition of soot. In very old houses, the chimney may also be very large and thick enough to withstand the fire.
The high temperatures may affect the strength of the chimney causing distortion of metal structures, and potential failure of ceramic structures.
Causes of the deposits which lead to chimney fires include using green/wet fuels, the operation of appliances with insufficient air intake, and low operating temperatures for prolonged periods followed by hot fires. Such practice typically occurs when mild weather periods are followed by cold snaps.
There are several major issues that are at risk from a chimney fire event. There is of course the danger of burning debris being expelled from the top of the chimney that could ignite other portions of the structure, but the major cause of damage is where the heat of the chimney fire will pass through the masonry materials and overheat nearby combustibles. Even though codes and standards require a specific clearance of the framing members from the masonry materials, often this is not found in actual construction. Many fires reported as chimney fires, are actually structure fires ignited by the overheating of the framing members. These structure fires can be traced to the normal use of the fireplace or sealed combustion chamber.
Steps to prevent this buildup of deposits include only running appliances hot during the initial ignition phase regularly, only building short and hotter fires, regular cleaning of flues using a chimney sweep, and only using internal chimney structures where possible versus a chimney attached to an external wall. The latter tends to be cooler, contributing to the problem, as well as creating downdrafts which tend to introduce smoke into the structure as the fire subsides. The nests of birds can be prevented by using a wire guard over the chimney.
Control includes denial of oxygen, addition of extinguishing agents, and removing heat sources. In case of chimney fire, the local fire department should be called immediately: there is a risk of the chimney failing, and/or overheating adjoining structures, which could cause the fire to spread to other parts of the building. Additional hazards include the possible buildup of toxic gases such as carbon monoxide within the structure due to restricted flues.
Remember to Check and Change your Smoke Detectors and Carbon Dioxide Detector Batteries and Replace older one!
How a $10 Pipe Can Cause Thousands in Water Damage to Your Home
One of the most common causes of internal flooding in homes is from a burst flexible water hose, or ‘flexi hose’, an increasingly common plumbing items around the world.
The flexi hose is a plumbing connection from the water main to major appliances, sinks and toilets, and has come into the spotlight as one of the top reasons a home is flooded — from water leakages and ruptures, to major water bursts. It’s highly likely you have flexi hoses installed in your home. So just how preventable are flexi hose water leakages, ruptures and bursts?
What are Flexible Water Hoses?
Flexible water hoses, or ‘flexi hoses’, are a versatile hose commonly installed in modern homes and to replace standard copper pipe installations in older homes.
Found in connections from the wall outlet to taps, sinks, basins and tubs, flexi hoses are also used to connect water from the toilet stop tap to the cistern.
Constructed in outer braided layers of stainless steel with a rubber pipe interior, the flexi hose — as its name suggests — is designed for its malleability and can be shaped to meet a range of home plumbing hardware solutions.
So why are so many people experiencing problems with flexi hoses?
In general, there are many reasons why a burst may occur — the main culprits tend to be:
- The age of the water hose – most hoses have a life span of five years
- Incorrect installation – over tightening, over stretching, and looseness can cause the pipe to fail
- Incremental damage through limited or no maintenance – rusting, fraying and kinking can cause the pipe to bust.
While flexi hoses tend to be the preferred option for many installations, there is a general consensus amongst plumbing professionals that they are also a leading cause of house flooding, with spoiled carpets, warping of wooden floors and water-damaged ceilings on multi-floor homes too often the result.
The main reasons behind the widely agreed consensus that flexi hoses are a major cause of flooding in homes is due to four key factors: Questionable products on the market, incorrect installation, a lack of simple maintenance checks and the overall age of the flexi hose — and with that, there is also good news:
Water damage to your home from a burst flexi hose is largely preventable.
What follows is a range of causes that can compromise the integrity of the flexi hoses in your home, followed by ways you are more likely to prevent them.
The Most Important Thing is Prevention
Paramount to preventing flooding in your home is to have a licensed plumber install all flexible water hoses, or check those already installed to professionally confirm the integrity of the product.
It’s also a good idea to show everyone in your home where the main water valve is located so they can stop the water in case of an emergency.
The Installation Factor
The DIY factor is at the heart of our culture and has intensified with the rise of television shows all about ways to ‘do it yourself’.
However, the installation of flexi hoses requires specialized knowledge that a licensed plumber is best to provide — and while the initial financial outlay may be more than the perceived savings from a DIY installation, you’re more likely to save in the long run.
For example, as with most products, flexi hoses vary in quality and your home can be compromised by the choice of water hose you buy. More expensive does not immediately lend to better quality and a licensed plumber will more likely know which type and brand of water hose is right for your home.
Flexi hoses also vary in length and choosing the wrong size can make the hose too taut, putting the hose under stress by being stretched, or too loose, allowing the hose to become kinked or twisted. Either way, installing the incorrect length of flexi hose will cause it to fray and unravel over time, leading to a major leak.
Flexi hoses are also easy to over-tighten, with excessive force applied to the end fittings of a flexi hose in order to obtain a watertight seal. However, such force can cause a fracture in the rubber seal connection, which, over time, is likely to cause a major rupture.
While flexi hoses are generally seen as robust products, if they are put under great strain due to being damaged at the time of installation, the likelihood of structural breakdown is high.
It’s worth considering a licensed plumber to install any and all flexi hoses around your home — and if you’re in any doubt of the flexi hose systems already installed, consider having a plumber come to your home for an inspection.
Energy Saving Tips for Winter
The strategies below will help you save energy, save money, and stay comfortable during the cold winter months. Some of the tips below are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the winter.
If you haven't already, conduct an energy audit to find out where you can save the most, and consider making a larger investment for long-term energy savings.
Take Advantage of Heat from the Sun
- Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
Cover Drafty Windows
- Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
- Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
- Find out about other window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency.
Adjust the Temperature
When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
- When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A smart or programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
- If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specially designed for use with heat pumps.
Find and Seal Leaks
- Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes ("plumbing penetrations"), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
- Find out how to detect air leaks.
- Learn more about air sealing new and existing homes.
- Add caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
- Find out how to select and apply the appropriate caulk and weatherstripping.
Maintain Your Heating Systems
- Schedule service for your heating system.
- Furnaces and heat pumps: Replace your filter once a month or as needed. Find out more about maintaining furnaces or boilers and heat pumps.
- Wood- and Pellet-Burning Heaters: Clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently. Find other maintenance recommendations for wood- and pellet-burning appliances.
Reduce Heat Loss from the Fireplace
- Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
- When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly--approximately 1 inch--and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.
- If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
- If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
- Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
- Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
- Add caulking around the fireplace hearth. Find out more techniques to improve your fireplace or wood-burning appliance's efficiency. Learn tips for safe and efficient fireplace installation and wood burning.
Lower Your Water Heating Costs
- Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You'll not only save energy, you'll avoid scalding your hands.
- Find other strategies for energy-efficient water heating.
Lower Your Holiday Lighting Costs
- Use light-emitting diode -- or "LED" -- holiday light strings to reduce the cost of decorating your home for the winter holidays.
- Learn about the advantages and potential cost savings of LED holiday light strings.
- Find manufacturers and brands of ENERGY STAR® certified decorative light strings.
You should never plug a heater into a power strip
As temperatures begin to dip across the country, millions of people are pulling space heaters out of storage to help warm their homes.
You should never plug a heater into a power strip,
These units are not designed to handle the high current flow needed for a space heater and can overheat or even catch fire due to the added energy flow.
Most people do not realize that power strips are not the same thing as surge protectors.
You should definitely not use an extension cord or power strip, which could easily overheat. And you really shouldn't plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater for safety reasons.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns against using extension cords or power strips with space heaters to reduce fire risks. The agency says that portable electric heaters cause 1,100 fires per year, resulting in about 50 deaths, dozens of injuries and millions of dollars in property loss.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 32 percent of home-heating fires involve space heaters, resulting in 79 percent of home-heating fire deaths in the United States.
Mold Prevention Tips
The most common places for mold growth in your home are basements, bathrooms/showers, attics and crawl spaces. You can help prevent your home from becoming an environment for mold growth. Here's how:
- Moisture control is KEY. Keep areas clean and dry. Dry wet or dam areas within 48 hours.
- Watch for condensation and wet spots. Fix the source of moisture problem as soon as possible.
- Maintain low indoor humidity, below 60 percent relative humidity.
- Keep heating, ventilation, and air conditioning drip pans clean, flowing properly, and unobstructed.
- Vent moisture generating appliances, such as dryers, to the outside where possible. If mold damage, threatens your home or office contact SERVPRO of Washington /Woolwich. We are here to help and care for not only your home or office, but for you as an individual.
- If you are not experienced with home/building repairs you may want to consider a professional mold specialist when making repairs.
Washing Machine Hoses: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Though most property owners are careful to protect their buildings and possessions against fire, burglary, storms, and other dangerous conditions, they often overlook a situation that insurers know to be one of the most potentially destructive and costly: water damage caused by leaking or malfunctioning home appliances, especially washing machines. Unlikely as it may seem, water damage from washing machines is one of the top five causes of claims to home insurers, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, which analyzed 525 washing machine claims from multiple insurance companies.
Of all water damage claims related to washing machines, more than half – nearly 55% – are from water supply hoses that leaked or burst. And these claims are costly, with the average claim running to more than $6,000.
Why and How Do Washing Machine Hoses Fail? Over time, most washing machine hoses, even those that are installed properly, will eventually fail, leading to leaks or catastrophic floods caused when the hoses burst. Failure may be caused any of several factors, including age, installation error, poor-quality materials, and poor design. Under normal conditions, water in the hoses is under the same pressure as in other faucets in the building. When the hose becomes weakened, or when the connection is faulty, the water pressure will break the hose or coupling, sending water flooding out. In a typical residential plumbing system, water will spill out of a single burst hose at a rate of about 650 gallons per hour (that’s six gallons per minute, or 2½ tons per hour).
Because the supply lines to the washing machines are always “on,” water will flood from a broken hose until someone notices it and turns off the main supply line. If the hose breaks at night or when a building is unoccupied, thousands of gallons of water might flood the building before the problem is discovered. If the line breaks on a washing machine situated on an upper floor, the damage will be extensive as the water pours through the floors. Most traditional washing machine hoses are made of reinforced rubber or polymer.
These materials lose resiliency as they age, making them subject to cracks, leaks, and bursting. The IBHS study showed that failure rates increase dramatically in hoses that are more than five years old; the average age of failed hoses was 8.7 years. More than half of all failures occurred by the time the machine and its hoses were eight years old, and nearly 80% occurred before ten years. Improper installation can also damage the hose, leading to premature failure. The most common installation error is failure to leave sufficient room between the machine and the wall connection to prevent kinking or bending of the hose, particularly near the valve connections, as described below. Cracks, crimps, or blockages in the line will cause damage and lead to leaks or total failure.
Poor design (including fabrication from poor-quality materials) is probably the most significant factor in the failure of both kinds of hose commonly in use – the standard black rubber hose and the braided steel variety – though these products usually fail for different reasons, as described below. Standard black washer hoses are made of rubber tubing with a polyester reinforcement lining. The metal inserts at the coupling end are rolled and stamped from thin sheets of copper alloy. Most failures occur at the end of the hose, where the metal insert comes into contact with the tubing.
Failures generally occur for one of the following reasons: Razoring — The metal insert has a very sharp edge which is in direct contact with the rubber tube. This edge becomes progressively thinner and sharper as it is worn away by the movements of the water and by the effects of electrolysis. In a process called “razoring,” the motion of the washing machine causes the metal edge to rub repeatedly against the inside of the hose, cutting it gradually from the inside out. Stress Fractures — The metal insert is attached to the hose by a ferrule, or ring, which is crimped tightly to hold the pieces together. The crimping can cause a stress fracture in the hose, which is then subject to failure, especially as the rubber ages and begins to deteriorate.
Rusting — Corrosion (rusting) of the metal fitting can cause failure in two ways. First, as the thin metal fitting corrodes, it becomes jagged and rough and cuts into the hose as the washing machine operates. Water can leak between the hose and its outer covering, forming a bubble, a critical warning sign of imminent failure. Though a bubble may appear anywhere along the line, most breaks occur at the point where the metal fitting meets the rubber tube. Second, as the fitting continues to corrode, it can become so weak that it may eventually break apart. Braided stainless steel hoses (sometimes called “steel-clad” hoses) were designed as a reliable replacement for standard black hoses, but they, too, have been problematic. They have proven to be not much stronger than standard rubber hoses, and they are also subject to failures related to the materials from which they are fabricated.
Crimping — A braided stainless steel hose consists of a plastic or rubber tube covered with a braided steel sheath, which is sometimes protected with a thin nylon coating. Because of the variety of materials used, a very tight crimp is required to fasten the metal fitting securely to the hose. During the manufacturing process, this tight crimping can damage the hose by cutting into the rubber. Once the product is installed on a washing machine, the action of the water and the movements of the machine can make the cuts worse, leading to eventual failure. Corrosion — The stainless steel braided cover can oxidize when exposed to chloramine, a chemical increasingly popular in water treatment. Under these conditions, the stainless steel braided cover can weaken, fray, and even break, so that it can no longer provide strength to the hose.
Inspect Washing Machine Hoses Regularly In many cases, the hoses and fittings that connect the washing machine to the water source are visible and easy to inspect every time the machine is used. If your machine’s hoses are not visible, find out how to gain access to them in order to inspect them once a month or so. Inspect both hot and cold water lines. Most failures occur near the connection, where the hose typically bends. Here’s what to look for: Signs of imminent Failure. Look for obvious signs of deterioration or imminent failure, such as blisters, bulges, bubbles, cracks, unraveling, discoloration, crimps, or kinks, especially near the connections and turns in the hose. Leaks. Check for moisture, drips, rust, discoloration, or leaks in, on, or around the hoses and connections or in the catch pan (if present). Check the connections to be sure that they are tightened properly, as described below. Even a small leak may indicate an imminent failure. Proper Positioning. Be sure that the washing machine is located at least four inches from the connections (usually at the wall) so that the hose is not bent or kinked. Check to see that the machine is properly balanced so that it does not “walk” during use. The motion of a “walking” machine will place added stress on the hoses and connections.