Imagine coming home from a long day at work or returning from an enjoyable vacation to find your floor is covered in two inches of water or that your family room ceiling has collapsed. Water leaks can be amongst the most damaging and costly types of home damage. They are also surprisingly common. Water damage is one of the most frequently filed homeowner insurance claims. In fact, statistics indicate that a homeowner is six to seven times more likely to experience major water damage than fire damage or a burglary.
One of the reasons why home water leaks are so common is that there are many different types of leaks. They can originate from many locations, including
- Tubs and showers
- Washing machines
- Hot water heaters
- Internal water pipes
These leaks can occur suddenly or slowly, and can even go unnoticed for a substantial amount of time before substantial damage is discovered.
While not every home water leak can be prevented, there are ways to minimize your risk of a leak occurring and protect your home from potential water damage. As a provider of professional plumbing services, we often are asked by homeowners how to minimize the risk of a major water leak. We recommend the following strategies:
Know How to Shut Off Your Water Main
This is perhaps the most important piece of advice that we give when it comes to water leaks. The time to figure out the location of your water main isn’t when you’ve had a pipe burst. Take the time to learn how to shut off your home’s water supply so that you’ll be prepared if the unexpected strikes.
Check Hoses Frequently
You rely on a variety of hoses to provide water to your home’s appliances. At least once or twice a year, carefully inspect all hoses to your dishwasher, washing machine, refrigerator and water heater. You’ll want to look for signs of aging, such as cracks or minor water leaks. We highly recommend replacing hoses on appliances every five years as a safety precaution.
Use Drip Pans
Do you have expensive or fragile floors in your kitchen? You may want to consider installing drip pans which will not only help with slow leaks but also with condensation that can warp and stain flooring.
Ensure Your Shower, Tub and Toilets Are Watertight
Caulking is extremely inexpensive and a sound investment in preventing leaks. Check on a regular basis for cracks in existing caulk and fill them in. This one single step can go a long way from preventing costly water damage to your floors, and all it takes is a small amount of cash and some elbow grease.
Install a Water Alarm
We all have smoke alarms in our home, and they’re essential for keeping us safe. Yet, most homeowners don’t know that water alarms are available and work in a similar way to help protect your home. When water is detected in certain areas, an alarm sounds, warning of a potential “water threat.” Common places to install water sensors include laundry rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. There are now also smart water alarms and leak detectors that include wi-fi sensors so that you can be notified on a smart device if there is a potential leak occurring.
Consider Additional Water Damage Prevention Products
There are new leak prevention products coming on the market all the time. If you spend considerable time away from your home, you may want to consider some of these projects. WaterWatchers are versatile devices that have a floor sensor to detect liquid spilling from an overfilling appliance. There are specific models for laundry rooms, as well as for kitchens. Because water heaters are a common source of flooding, you might want to add a water detector shutoff that detects the presence of water beneath a water heater and automatically shuts off the cold water supply and power source to the water heater.
Get Your Plumbing Professionally Inspected
Have you recently moved into a new home or just haven’t taken a close look at your home’s pipes and hoses in a while? It can be well worth the cost to have a professional plumber take a look at the current state of your plumbing system. Taking this preemptive approach can often save you thousands of dollars and many hours of heartache by preventing a leak before it happens.
Understand Your Insurance Coverage
Homeowner’s policies have differing amounts of coverage for plumbing-related damage. Some will cover a sudden burst pipe, but may provide nothing for a slow leak. There are also policies that will cover all costs resulting from water damage, including mold, and repair work. Others will only pay for the actual pipe repair. It’s important to carefully read your policy and understand your coverage amounts. If you’re uncertain, speak with your agent or insurance company. There may be affordable options for extending your coverage to cover a potential leak.
A water leak is never a happy situation for any homeowner. However, with some preventive strategies and tools to detect leaks early and before they cause significant damage, you can minimize much of the costly damage they can cause.