Q: I just bought new braided-steel supply hoses to replace the old rubber hoses on my washing machine, but I can't seem to budge the old hose couplings. Do you have any tricks for getting them off?

-Ray Brendlinger, Danielson, Conn.

A: Richard Trethewey replies: Before you do anything else, you have to relieve the water pressure inside the hoses. To do this, shut the supply valves, turn the washer on, wait a few seconds, then turn it off.

Now pull the washer out as far as you can without stressing the hoses. With any luck, you'll actually be able to get behind it. Believe me, it's a lot easier to grip a wrench and a coupling if you're not stretched on tiptoe over the top of the machine. Put a pipe wrench or Channellock pliers snugly on the fittings and pull the handle toward the movable jaw. No hose I've encountered so far has resisted that kind of persuasion. Just remember: "lefty loosey." You'll never get a coupling off if you're turning it the wrong way.

By the way, washing-machine hoses should be replaced every five years or so. If you stick to that routine, the couplings should be easier to remove next time.
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