About five years after I moved into my house, I was working from home. I spent the morning writing and had a lunch date with a former client. At about 11:30, I heard water running in my basement.

Home inspectors will warn you. New home owners don’t listen, including me.

I went down to investigate and found that my washing machine hose burst. I turned off the water. Then I had some mopping to do. When I called my client to say that I needed an extra half hour or so to clean up, she asked what happened. She said, “Didn’t your inspector tell you to get the metal hoses?” I said, “Of course he did, but I didn’t listen.”

Home inspectors will tell you:

The standard rubber hoses that come with your washing machine will eventually split if they are left pressurized. Your remedies are:

  1. Turn off your washing machine water source when you finish your laundry. Modern houses have a toggle that makes it very easy. Older homes may still have two turn-valves, which is still easy enough. Yet, most people don’t do it.
  2. If you are not going to turn off the water, buy the metal hoses.
  3. If you don’t trust the metal hoses, install an automatic shut-off.

In all the years of hearing this advice from home inspectors, we’d never noticed a single automatic shut off. Not one. Until last month. Dave Twombly spotted one and Pearl Emmons took his picture.

Reasons why you might go to the extra expense of an automatic shut-off.

If your washer is in a finished basement. The water will damage your walls and floors in the basement. If the hoses leaks in the middle of the night or when you are away, this could create thousands of dollars in damage.

If your washer is on the second floor of your house. Often, there is no drain installed to take the overflow, only a tub or nothing at all. If a hose breaks, water will quickly cover the floor and begin working its way to your first floor ceiling.

If your washer is in your condo unit. If your washing machine hoses leak, the water will damage the unit below you. Guess what, that is a problem for you and your homeowners insurance.

Diligent people — who are good at developing habits — can get used to turning off their water source, every time, after doing their laundry. For everyone else with laundry in unfinished basements, the metal hoses are the answer. If a broken hose is going to make a huge mess, the automatic shut-off is the best defense.