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Avoiding serious water damage from burst flexi hoses

Flexible hoses, flexi-hoses or flexible connectors, came onto the Australian plumbing market around 30 years ago and have since become extremely popular. If you look under your kitchen sink, in your laundry or your toilet, you will probably notice one or several of these features.

However, they are not without risks to your home. If not checked and maintained properly, you can end up with burst flexi hose, leading to heavy flooding.

 

What are flexible hoses?  

Flexible plumbing hoses, or flexi-hoses, are rubber pipes surrounded by braided lengths of stainless steel. They’re used to connect water to taps and fixtures, so you’ll usually find them under the sinks, in your bathroom, laundry or kitchen. These flexible hose pipes reduce the stress on pipes by absorbing hydraulic shock and ground movement.

 

What are the advantages of using flexible hoses?

These hoses are cheap and readily available. They’re also versatile as they can be bent and shaped to accommodate your water supply. Quick to install, they overcome tricky alignment issues, reducing labour costs.

 

Tips for choosing the best flexible hose

With the price of flexi plumbing hoses continuing to drop, some flexible hoses are available for as little as $3. While there’s no burst proof flexible hoses, not all hoses are equal.

Most problems with flexible hoses come from the use of low-quality steel and brass barb fittings. When not properly manufactured or heat-treated, they are more susceptible to corrosion.

The size of braiding is also important, as some of the cheapest flexible braided hoses use a thinner, weaker braid which can fail or corrode more easily.

Some products provide an extra layer of protection against the incidence of bursting flexible hoses, with a plastic coating applied over the stainless steel braiding, making it more resistant to corrosion.

As a general rule, always ensure that your flexible hoses display the WaterMark certification.

 

Flexi hoses of different sizes laid on a table

Do flexible hoses last? 

Generally, stainless steel flexible hoses will need replacing every 5-10 years. Before you find yourself in deep water, it’s wise to check hoses regularly, preferably by a professional plumber. Look for signs of ageing, 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 hoses have reached their shelf life, or are showing any signs of wear, get in touch with Chiswick Plumbing today.

Despite their relatively long shelf life, recent data released by insurance companies show that flexible hoses are the number one cause of internal flooding in Australian homes. Burst flexible water hoses cause more than 20% of water damage claims, sometimes bursting within months of their installation. As flexible hoses can leak up to 1,500 litres of water per hour, this can lead to irreversible water damage to your house.

 

Time bomb cartoon image

Why do flexible hoses burst?

The rubber tube inside flexible 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.

Sometimes, damage occurs during installation, especially when people attempt to do plumbing installations themselves.Twisting or stretching the hose to make it fit during installation may cause a weak point in the hosing.

Particular attention should be paid to the torquing of the nuts at either end of the connectors, too. If the nuts are not tightened enough, this will create a leak path on the outside of the hose. If they are too tight, the seal will rupture. In both cases, chlorine from the water supply will build up on the braiding and corrode it over time.

Those leaks are the most common source of bursting. The presence of water exterior to the hose is required for corrosion, which is why most failures are seen under sinks, toilets and dishwashers.

Flexible hoses used in closed cupboards under sinks are most at risk due to the high humidity environment caused by condensation. This is especially true for cupboards where household chemicals are stored. Those chemicals often contain chlorine which stays in the air in the closed cabinet and dissolves into hydrochloric acid under humidity, corroding the stainless steel braiding.

 

Steel flexi hose being assembled by a braiding machine

Preventing bursts

There are several things you can do to reduce the likelihood of a burst flexible hose, but as a general rule, remember that regular maintenance is much cheaper than damage repair.

  • Buy good quality flexible hoses (with the WaterMark certification) and always get them installed by a licensed plumber
  • Talk to your plumber to start a preventative maintenance program, regularly checking your flexible hoses for damage or leaks
  • Get mini stop valves added on all water lines with flexible hose connections, so that they can easily be isolated in an emergency situation
  • Install a vent hole in cupboards to allow for ventilation and reduce humidity and chlorine levels in closed cupboards where household chemicals are kept
  • Switch off the main water supply of your home when you are going away for an extended period

If you notice any damage on your flexible hoses or need a local plumber to install or maintain flexible housing, Chiswick Plumbing can help.

Call us on (02) 5657 0000 for more information or to book your inspection.