Preventing Water Damage In Your Home
Water damage can often be avoided with routine maintenance and assistance from
It will be well worth your time to take a few extra moments every week to
check potential trouble spots in and around your home. Early detection could
mean the difference between a simple mop-up job and major construction repairs
Check for hidden leaks by turning off faucets, all water-using
appliances, and not flushing toilets for one hour. 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.
Know where the main water shut off valve is located in your home and
check it frequently to make sure it is operational.
Inside Your Home
Water leaks can happen anywhere in the house, but they occur most frequently
in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry rooms.
Periodically check under the sink to see
if the hose connection to the water supply line is secure and is not
leaking. Check around the base of the dishwasher for evidence of leaks. Look
for discolored, warped, or soft flooring materials or water damage to nearby
If your refrigerator has an icemaker,
check the hose connection to make sure it is securely attached to the water
supply line. The wet spot you see on the floor near the refrigerator may be
melted ice cubes or it may be a crimped icemaker line about to burst.
Re-caulk around sinks and pay attention to
slow-draining pipes. This may indicate a partially blocked drain. Check the
pipes under the sink for signs of water leaks.
Showers and bathtubs
Discoloration or soft areas
around floors and walls near showers or bathtubs may be your first
indication there is a leak. Check caulking at joints where the walls meet
the floor or the bathtub, looking for cracks or mold. If either is found,
clean and remove loose material and apply new sealant. If the shower walls
or floor are tiled, a leak may develop if there are cracks or missing areas
Check under the sink for signs of leaks from
water supply lines or drainpipes.
Placing inappropriate objects or too much
toilet paper in the bowl can accidentally clog toilets, especially low-flow
toilets now required in homes. Hanging bowl deodorants are frequently the
culprits. These objects can lodge deep in the plumbing system, and can block
the line or create an obstruction that grease and other materials can cling
to - eventually causing blockage. In addition, some chlorine tablet cleaners
may corrode some of the internal components, eventually leading to a leak.
Inspect washing machine hoses
regularly for wetness around hose ends and signs of bulging, cracking or
fraying. Replace the hose if a problem is found or every three to five years
as part of a proactive maintenance program.
Most water heaters last 10 to 15 years.
Wet spots on the floor or a rusted tank may signal a problem. Hot water
heaters should be installed on the lowest level of the home and always
located next to a floor drain. If installed above or adjacent to finished
spaces, the hot water heater should be placed inside a drain pan with the
drain pan piped to the floor drain.
At the start of the cooling season,
have the A/C system serviced by a qualified contractor. Make sure their
service includes inspecting and cleaning the air conditioner condensation
pan drain line to keep it free of obstructions. Change the air filters on a
Sump pump systems assist in keeping
unwanted water out of your home. Battery-operated back-up sump pumps can
offer a degree of protection against power failure or failure of the primary
pump. A generator can also be used to power the pump in case of a power
failure. Test the sump pump before the start of each wet season to ensure it
is in working order. Sump pumps are not intended to last more than 10 years
and must have some components replaced or serviced within those 10 years.
Outside Your Home
Leaking roofs, poor drainage, and clogged gutters and downspouts can lead to
significant water damage inside your home.
Disconnect garden hoses from all spigots before the start of winter.
Fill in any low spots around the house so water drains away from the
Inspect caulking around windows and doors and replace as needed where
cracked or deteriorated.
Repaint wood siding as needed.
Keep roof, valleys, gutters and downspouts free from buildup of leaves,
twigs and other litter preventing proper drainage.
Proper roof and eave ventilation may help extend the life of the roof by
reducing the buildup of heat and moisture in the attic.
Preservatives available for some types of roofs may help limit
weathering effects of moisture and retard growth of molds and mosses.
Avoid walking on a roof to limit wear and tear. Only necessary repairs
or inspections should warrant walking on the roof.
Keep trees trimmed to prevent them from rubbing against the roof or from
providing excessive shade.
Watch for these warning signs:
Missing, curling, cupping, broken or cracked shingles.
Damage or deterioration around the flashing at chimneys, vents and other
Damage or deterioration in valley areas of the roof.
Water stains on your ceiling. If possible, check your attic around
flues, plumbing vents, and chimneys.
Pooling or ponds of water that fail to drain from flat or low sloped
roofs may indicate low areas and inadequate drainage.
Clean debris from your gutters and inspect them regularly.
Consider purchasing gutter shields if your gutters frequently fill with
Downspouts should extend several feet away from the house to carry water
away from the foundation.
Hardware that can help
Water leak detection systems can help you check for leaks when you can't.
This device is only beneficial if someone is inside the home, hears the alarm
and takes action to stop the leak.
These systems are typically battery-operated, stand-alone units. They
are inexpensive and easy to install.
A moisture sensor is located on the device and will activate an audible
alarm when it senses moisture.
Water alarms can be placed on the floor or they may be wall mounted.
The water alarm should be located in high-risk areas such as under sinks
and near appliances and equipment that use water.
Water alarms range in cost from $8 to $45.
Individual Appliance Systems
These systems are installed on a specific appliance and will
automatically shut off the water supply in the event of a leak.
Depending on the type of device, you may be able to install this system
without any special tools. However, in some cases, a qualified plumber may
Individual appliance systems range in cost from $50 to $150.
These systems feature a shut-off valve that is installed on the main
water supply piping. When a leak is detected, the system will automatically
shut off the entire water supply.
Some models can be integrated with a local or central station security
If you travel often, this type of system could offer you additional
peace of mind while you are away from home.
Whole-house systems typically take between four and six hours to
install. They cost between $500 and $1,500 depending on labor rates and the
size of the system.