How To Protect Your Home From Water Damage

Water Damage Prevention Methods

Water damage, whether caused by leaks or by condensation can do more than cause unsightly stains in your home. Water damage can cause permanent structural damage to the home and erode its strength. As a general rule, water damage from poor or infrequent maintenance, neglect or general deterioration isn’t covered by your insurance. However, proper home maintenance can help you prevent messy and costly damage to your home. Learn where your home is most at risk, and what you can do to help prevent it.

Preventing Leaks Inside Your Home:

Kitchen

  • Dishwasher – Periodically check for leaks under the sink where the hose connects to the water supply. Look around the base of the dishwasher for evidence of leaks, such as discolored, warped, or soft flooring materials, or water damage to nearby cabinets.
  • Refrigerator – If your refrigerator has an ice-maker, make sure the hose connection is securely attached to the water supply line. Also, a wet spot on the floor may be a sign of a crimped ice-maker line about to burst.
  • Sink – Replace deteriorated caulk around sinks, and check the pipes under the sink for leaks. A slow-draining pipe may indicate a partially blocked drain that needs cleaning.

Bathroom

  • Showers and bathtubs – Remove and replace deteriorated or cracked caulk and grout. Water can leak through these damaged sealants, causing stains or soft areas around nearby walls and floors.
  • Sinks – Check under the sink for leaks from water supply lines or drainpipes.
  • Toilets – Clogs can result from too much toilet paper or objects such as hanging bowl deodorants. Also, some chlorine tablet cleaners may corrode internal plastic or rubber parts, leading to a leak. Check the water supply tube. If it looks old or brittle, replace immediately.

Laundry / Utility Room

  • Washing machine – Check hoses regularly for bulging, cracking, fraying, and leaks around hose ends. Replace the hose if a problem is found, or every three to five years, as part of a proactive maintenance program. To help make sure the hose doesn’t kink, leave at least four inches (or 11 centimeters) between the water connection and the back of the washing machine.
  • Water heater – Most water heaters last eight to 15 years. Wet spots on the floor or a rusted tank may signal a leak. Water heaters should be installed on the lowest level of the home, next to a floor drain, or inside a drain pan piped to the floor drain.

Stopping Leaks at the Source

  • Check for hidden leaks. First, turn off faucets and all water-using appliances, and don’t flush toilets for one hour. Then, record the water meter reading. If the flow indicator (triangular or diamond-shaped rotating button) is spinning or the meter reading has changed while no water is being used, a leaking pipe may exist.
  • Make sure everyone in your household knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it. Check it frequently for problems, and shut off the water if you will be away from your home for several days or longer.