What are flexible hoses and how do they cause water damage?
Flexible hoses or ‘flexi-hoses’ came onto the Australian plumbing market around 30 years ago and have become extremely popular. If you look under your kitchen sink or in your laundry, you’ll probably notice one. However, they are not without risks to your home. If not checked and maintained properly, you can end up with a burst flexi hose leading to some water damage to your property. Despite their reasonably long shelf life, recent data by insurance companies shows that flexi hoses are the main cause of internal water damage in Australian homes.
Flexi hoses are generally cheap and redily available. They’re also pretty versatile as they can be bent and shaped to accommodate your water supply. Quick to install, they also overcome tricky alignment issues, reducing labour costs.
So why do they burst?
The rubber tube inside flexi hoses expands under pressure and the stainless steel braid is designed to prevent further expansion. However, if the stainless steel fails and breaks, water pressure will cause the rubber lining to bulge out of the sleeve and rupture. Water damage often occurs in kitchen and bathroom areas which can quickly spread to other living areas or other lots when a flexi hose fails in units and apartments.
Problems can also arise from damage during installation, the use of low-quality steel and when fittings are not properly manufactured or heat treated leaving them more suceptible to corrosion. Cheap braiding which can be thinner and weaker can also fail or corrode more easily. As a rule, always ensure that your flexible hose displays the WaterMark certification.
Preventing a flexi hose water damage issue
Generally, stainless steel flexible hoses will need replacing every 5-10 years. Before you find yourself in deep water, it’s wise to check your flexi hoses regularly (Insurer QBE suggest every 2 years) , preferably by a professional. Look for signs of aging, such as bulges, kinks, frayed areas or rust spots on the braided section of the pipe. Make sure you also check warranty period and expiry dates. If your flexible hoses have reached their shelf life, or are showing signs of wear, get in touch with a licenced plumber. Engaging a licenced plumber to conduct an inspection is a good idea and if needed, replace all at-risk flexi hoses.
Some flexi hose safety tips
There are several things you can do to reduce the likelihood of a burst flexi hose causing water damage but as a general rule, regular maintenance is much cheaper than damage repair.
- Buy good quality flexi hoses (with the WaterMark certification) and always get them installed by a licesed plumber
- Talk to your plumber to start a preventative maintenance program, regularly checking your flexi hoses for damage or leaks
- Switch off the main water supply when you are going away for an extended period
- Replace all older or at-risk flexi hoses
- Do not attempt to do-it-yourself, as improperly installed hoses are the cause of many preventable accidents
- Be aware that some cleaning products stored under the sink are corrosive and may contribute to corrosion of the braided stainless steel hose sleeve.
If you notice any damage on your flexi hoses contact a licensed plumber immediately.
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