Preventing water damage- steel braid hoses vs floodchek/floodstop

marvelousmarvinJune 28, 2013

After suffering water damage before, I'm really paranoid about any suffering any further water damage in the future from a leak or hose bursting for the washing machine, ice maker for the fridge, and dishwasher.

I know that rubber hoses will become brittle and might rupture so you should replace them periodically.

But, are those stainless steel braided hoses a permanent solution or do they also break down too and need to get replaced periodically too? Has anybody ever had any problems with those stainless steel braided hoses?

I've seen the commercials for Farmer's Insurance, where they say to replace the washing machine hoses every five years but it didn't specify it that was only a problem for rubber hoses or if you also need to replace the stainless steel braided hoses every five years too.

Or, should I step up and pay for those floodchek hoses,which are supposed to be superior to the stainless steel braided hoses, as well as the corresponding gooseneck connectors? Of course, the floodchek website will make self serving claims that they're better but there's no Amazon reviews to confirm if that's true.

Or, what about Floodstop device, an emergency shut off device which will shut off the water if it detects any water from a leak or rupture? It seems like it might work, but are there any issues with durability? I'm just skimming through the Amazon reviews but some people complain how it seems to be cheaply made.

This post was edited by marvelousmarvin on Fri, Jun 28, 13 at 4:04

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Try plumbing forum too.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 7:58AM
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Avoid the Floodstop devices. We put them in our new house five years ago on both our water heaters, both our fridges and our washer. We have now paid handsomely to have them all removed. They all had repeated false alarms and are hard, VERY hard to physically get to get to reset. Oh and, the battery backup means even more false alarms/failures. Can't tell you how much fun these are at 3 AM (trying to move a 48" built-in fridge) or when your family wakes up to no hot water because the water heater unit THOUGHT it felt a drop of water (humidity would even set them off, they were so sensitive) and turned the water off. We ended up putting all the sensors in ridiculous places (way up high on top of the water heater, covering them in bubble wrap, etc.) just to try and eliminate the near constant false alarms. (The first week we moved into our house we had multiple alarms DAILY, all false.)

Even a drop of water will set these things off; automatically cutting of your water supply.The washer device requires special plumbing (different sized pipes/connector) and in addition to the false alarms simply quit working 3 times in 3 years--and if it doesn't work, your washer doesn't work; because of the special hookup you can't just bypass it--requiring out-of-warranty replacement x2. I eventually got someone from the company that admitted they had, "about a 75% failure rate" and after waiting for replacement parts on the third unit for a month, with no washer and dryer the whole time, paid a plumber $600 to rip out the special plumbing--and tear up our wall--and put in a standard attachment. It was less money to replace the other units, but all did require a plumber and new lines (probably $100-$200 ea. to remove the other 4 units). That's on top of the $150-$400 per unit we paid, plus install in the first place. It was a all giant waste of money and PITA. Frankly, I couldn't be happier they're all gone.

Never, EVER again. What a disaster!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 8:19AM
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Steel wire reinforced hoses may not solve rubber deterioration unless the internal part being reinforced is teflon tubing or perhaps nylon or polyethylene. I haven't done this with the washing machine. I have with many undersink water supply hoses using commercial wire reinforced hoses, mainly for their tolerance for installation variations. I don't recall any failures, even of some used for a shower hookup in 1989. However, for plumbing of hydronic toe-kick heaters I used serious (brakeline grade) hoses by Parametric Performance so I would have easy in and out flexible access.

I have four Floodstop units in use, three mounted to the basement ceiling joists where I can easily get to them, the other to a wall where I can easily access it. One is a dual for the washing machine, one is used with a distribution of sensors for the RO water supply to places in the kitchen, and the other two do hot and cold water to the kitchen (another multitude of sensors). The reno kitchen uses a lot of PEX in cabinets and I wasn't going to chance it without cut-offs.

False alarms are rare (can't recall any although I once assumed a battery problem when there really was moisture where it didn't belong.); however, circumstances less than flooding will trigger them, such as a soap dispenser overflow onto the cabinet base, washing machine drain hose standpipe overflow, etc. Like many things, compromises are necessary. I had one part failure (gear in a shutoff) that I described to the manufacturer and received a replacement part promptly.

I admit to being the plumber so if I had a problem I could bypass it fairly quickly. (Suggest having some PEX on hand and Sharkbite-type fittings (look like John Guest fittings on steroids) that can quickly provide a means of bypass if necessary.) I would not use Floodstop units for a whole house shut off unless the whole house plumbing was PEX. (Actually, PEX has worked pretty well so far, but is less tolerant of mechanical damage than copper.) In my case, shut off by the Floodstop would be an inconvenience, not a major obstruction.

I imagine that there are higher quality (more industrial) devices performing this function that could be used instead, but haven't yet needed to research them.

For the washing machine there are dual manual shutoffs made that are intended to shut off the water when the unit is not being used. Obviously, one cannot forget to use it before leaving the house.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 12:10PM
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Yikes, all the special plumbing and accompanying expense to do that is a real turn off.

That's also why I'm a bit reluctant to go with floodchek if I have to also get gooseneck connectors for that. If it doesn't work out and I have to get standard hosing, then would I have to disconnect those gooseneck connectors?

Where can I get "commercial wire reinforced hoses", where the internal tubing has been reinforced with something like teflon, nylon, etc...? I don't think a place like Home Depot sells them.

And, how would I know its been reinforced with those materials? Would it say it on the packaging?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 4:12AM
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On our washer I put a dual action valve that shuts off both hot and cold water at the flip of a lever. Very easy to turn on and off when needed. I have seen a This Old House program where they featred a plug-in electric safety valve that could detect a leak and turn off all water. It came with optional detectors that sat on the floor and signaled the valve to shut off In the event of a flood. Costly at first but might be worth it for washers, probably not ice makers.. For them I have used 1/4 inch copper tubing (because I had some on hand) . They use poly tubing normally now. I trust that if it is not leaking from fittings when installed.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 11:29AM
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I switched to PEX tubing so would a copper tubing work for the icemaker?

I've read several articles that talk prevention of leaking from ice maker where they recommended using copper tubing for the connection but I just assumed they were talking about situations where the rest of the plumbing was also copper. -can-cause-big-problems/index.html

This post was edited by marvelousmarvin on Mon, Jul 1, 13 at 2:44

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 3:46AM
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PEX and copper can certainly be mixed using appropriate fittings.

The question that only you can answer is which is more likely to be subject to damage: (a) flexible food-grade polyethylene tubing (like PEX but without the cross linking) between a connection at the wall and the ice-maker fitting, or (b) relatively stiff copper tubing that itself will probably not be subject to damage, but might, if one inadvertently tries to move the refrigerator, cause damage to the refrigerator connection or fittings at either end?

For my 48-inch SZ unit, I use poly tubing with John Guest fittings and adapters (and shut-offs) to supply it with RO water. Of course, the SZ is not a unit that will be inadvertently moved. Over a cherry floor, I deemed Floodstop sensors to be a necessity, and would do so even if the connection were copper. (If I had had as much trouble with them as poster no. 3, I would have had to find an alternative.)

There could be other issues using copper and brass fittings if you are using RO water, depending on resulting pH.

Whatever you do, be sure to flush the plumbing before attaching it to the ice-maker connection.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 9:06AM
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Is the flexible food-grade poly tubing the same one that the hgtv warned against?

In that article, it warned, "The icemaker kits often come with a small clear plastic water pipe attached to the valve and to the water inlet on the refrigerator.

That piece of flexible plastic tubing is the most likely suspect for a leak. Pinholes in the tubing go unnoticed during installation and remain unnoticed for years, hidden behind the refrigerator."

There's no reverse osmosis (I'm assuming that's what the RO stands for.) But, its for a Single Family House that's being used as a rental with floors that will be vulnerable to water.

As a rental, I guess I have to worry about the fridge getting moved when tenants and their fridge move in and out every few years.

But, if I bought a new poly tubing for the fridge every time somebody moved in like how you replace rubber hoses every 5 years for the washing machine, do you think that would work?

When I mentioned the copper tubing to the contractor, he made it sound like it wasn't feasible since the rest of it was PEX. Or, maybe, he really meant it wasn't feasible because it was too complicated and therefore expensive to mix PEX and copper fittings.

This post was edited by marvelousmarvin on Mon, Jul 1, 13 at 3:09

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 3:08AM
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Depending on the space you have behind your refrigerator, I have used a couple of loops in the copper tubing to permit movement of the refrig. without damage. Most important that you use the best connectors for copper tubing. I used to use Swageloc fittings but I believe other better ones are now available. You will still have plastic inside the refrigerator that the mfgr. uses. Mine has loops in the chilled section to cool the dispensed water. So there probably wouldn't be any advantage using copper outside.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 9:22AM
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I can't read the mind of your contractor, and I won't guess at his intent.

In my experience, food grade polyethylene tubing doesn't have leaks. I've used it for years without any problem to plumb my whole house with RO water. It is not thin wall plastic. Typical sizes are 1/4 and 3/8 OD. See Portage Specialties web site for examples and colors, and for suitable fittings.

If the tubing is cut long enough, it should be possible to move the refrigerator (not out of the room) for cleaning many times without any affect. Copper will have to be disconnected if the motion is significant. It is easy to disconnect the poly using John Guest type fittings as they are semi quick disconnect (with no pressure, so a shut off and drain are useful), and the tubing can generally be reseated many times. (Be sure to fully seat the tubing in the fitting.)

However, I now realize that you have raised a big issue -- the tenants moving refrigerators in and out and expecting to connect to your water supply. I would recommend that only you do that, and have on hand a variety of fittings suitable for the range of refrigerator ice maker interfaces that may be in use.

You will find in this case that the poly and fittings are much easier to adapt to arbitrary refrigerator configurations. Conceivably, a copper connection might have to be replaced with each refrigerator to adapt it to wherever the fitting is located.

Your concern about poly could be justified if you think that the renters will find a way to damage it. They don't have any skin in the game to motivate them to be careful.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 9:30AM
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Why don't you just supply a fridge in the rental units and then you won't have to worry about tenants moving them? In some locales, fridges are required in rental units - even if it isn't required where you live, can't you still supply one?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 2:43PM
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I'm not going to supply a fridge for the same reasons I don't supply a washer or dryer.

Fridges, washers, dryers are expensive, and a tenant will abuse them so they won't last that long. After I paid all that money for a fridge, it'd simply shift and amplify my concerns about a tenant moving the fridge every couple of years when they move in/out to an even bigger worry and concern about the fridge itself.

This post was edited by marvelousmarvin on Wed, Jul 3, 13 at 2:36

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 2:20AM
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I have stainless braid on all my appliances and faucets. Some are Floodstop. I have never had a false shutoff on a floodstop although I don't think the floodstops really help in most situations. They pretty much need the line to break completely and I haven't ever seen that happen to a stainless braid line. Usually there is is a small leak and the Floodstop lines won't protect from that. On the refrigerator I would suggest a stainless braid over copper. The copper is not as flexible and will break easier. They sell 10ft icemaker stainless braided lines at the both the orange and blue box stores. The lines will be labeled for dishwasher, refrigerator, etc. This is important if you are using the floodstops because the flowrate of a washing machine will be much higher than an icemaker and you may get false shutoffs if the lines are sized poperly for the appliance. Choosing the line labeled for the appliance also ensure that your fittings will match up.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 7:38PM
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I also wanted to add that I found a loophole in floodchek's warranty in case their warranty was a factor for anybody going to buy it.

As proof that floodchek hoses are superior, floodcheck says that guarantee their hoses for 20 years while rubber hoses need to be replaced every 3-5 years.

But, when you carefully read floodchek's guaranty, it actually states, ""They're guaranteed for 20 years, or the life of the washing machine."

But, that seems like a scam to me. No washing machine nowadays is going to last 20 years. My previous washing machine was only 6 years when it broke down, and I needed to get a new one.

So, if floodchek guaranty really covers the life of the washing machine, which inevitably will be much shorter than 20 years, this 20 year warranty is pretty much meaningless.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 2:26AM
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