How could my clothes washer overfill with the water shut off at the main shutoff?

We recently had a very unusual experience with a client’s washer overfilling with water and flooding the laundry room. What we found really disturbing was that the main water shutoff to the home was OFF upon arrival at the home. When we walked into the client’s house to disarm the alarm (which is located in the laundry room) we stepped into about 2 inches of water!

Despite the client being gone for over a week it appeared the overflow must have happened recently as the damage was restricted to the laundry room and surrounding walls. We were able to immediately obtain the services of a water remediation company and they removed all water, removed the affected area baseboards and installed air dryers and commercial grade dehumidifiers to remove the moisture and to hopefully minimize additional damage. This was accomplished within 2 hours of arriving at the client’s home!

It took a bit longer to figure out how this could happen and the cause was because of the failure of not one but two separate systems. 

The first was the failure of the main water shutoff to the home. The best water shutoff valves are ball valves which last longer and are less likely to leak. This home had a ball valve but it was rusted. Over time the ball became corroded and tiny pieces broke off and logged in the ball and the result was that water was allowed into the house despite the valve being in the OFF position outside.

The other ““failure”” was the water inlet valve on the washing machine. Every washing machine has a water inlet valve. This is the part that connects the hot and cold-water lines to the machine. The valve’s purpose is to manage the entry of water into your washing machine. In other words, the valve serves as the gatekeeper allowing water to flow into the tub when it receives electric signals from the washer.  Depending on the temperature settings either one (cold) or both (hot and cold) will open. Over time inlet valves can develop issues such as restricted water flow or unbridled water flow! This is usually caused by debris clogging one or both inlet ports. These ports have fine mesh filters that help prevent sand, minerals and other debris from entering the washer. Sometimes debris sticks in the mesh causing the valves to stick open. When this occurs, the washer may overfill or cause a hose leak. The other possibility is that the solenoid itself might be defective leaving an inlet port open, allowing water to flow freely. 

 The water inlet valve has been checked by a service technician; it was replaced and is now working properly. The outside water shutoff was replaced by a licensed plumber and has a new brass ball valve. The point of this example is that STUFF HAPPENS!!!

If you are a seasonal resident, it is absolutely ESSENTIAL that you hire a professional home watch company that knows how to handle disasters when they occur—AND THEY WILL OCCUR! For a free on-site consultation contact Carefree Home Watch at 239-234-1847 or visit our website at  Carefree is professionally trained, certified, insured, bonded and is a accredited member of the International Home Watch Alliance serving the greater Fort Myers area.