What’s the Worst Source of Water Damage? It’s not your Pipes…

Water damage is an expensive and messy nightmare that no homeowner wants to deal with. But the worst sources of water damage aren’t from a busted pipe or a leaking roof. It’s from your home appliances.

Washers and dishwashers need connections to your home plumbing to function. Each connection point is a weakness where water can leak through. A slow leak behind your washer could spread into the flooring and rot out an entire room. A dishwasher seal failure could put a flood of water into your kitchen.

“Most home appliances have parts that require user maintenance, like hoses and washers, and these machines have limited lifespans before pump components fail, which can also cause a leak,” says John Stahfest, founder of Top Shelf Appliance, an appliance repair company in Washington.

Here is what they recommend to check to reduce the chances of a water leak from your appliances.

Dishwasher

The easiest things to check are the door seal and the sprayer arm. The seal should be firm and have no food particles on it. Wipe it down if it is dirty and replace it if it is cracked or wearing down. The sprayer arm should be clean and free of debris. As it gets clogged it won’t clean as well, but if it gets really clogged it could break and cause a leak.

Also, you should clean the drain tray after each cycle. Draining larger food particles puts stress on the pump. A leaking pump is one of the most difficult leaks to detect until it is far too late. A slow leak under your dishwasher might not be noticed until your whole kitchen island is rotted out from below.

The lifespan of most dishwashers is about 10 years without major repairs. While they won’t suddenly fail, you’re taking a risk of leakage as wear and tear increases on the parts. 12 years is about the maximum limit, so save some money each year for the replacement.

Washer

Washers use flexible hoses to run between the washer and the drain. These hoses do wear out over time and need replacement. Washer hoses should be replaced whenever they crack or every five years. The worst place to get a leak on a washer is the intake hose. If that hose leaks, it’s like opening a faucet directly onto your floor. You should also check the washers as well for wear, and make sure that there isn’t a clog in the drain hose or the drain pipe that could cause a flood.

There are also internal hoses that you may want to check, especially if it leaks while it is filling but there’s no noticeable leak outside. Check the clamps on these hoses to make sure they’re secure.

The second place to check is the pump. If you only notice a water leak during the spin cycle, that’s a sure sign that the pump is bad. Pumps are relatively easy to replace if you can find the part. Be sure to unplug your washer before you do any disassembly to avoid a shock.

The third place to check is the tub itself. A leak here is much harder to fix for a homeowner and can require special tools. Usually, you’ll only see a tub failure in older models as the detergent and time wear through the gaskets. It may be better to call a repairperson or buy a new one if you determine it’s the tub.

If you’re diligent in your inspections, you should never have a problem with a sudden failure of your washer or dishwasher. At a minimum, these things should be checked every six months. It doesn’t take long and it’s much cheaper than replacing your flooring.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.