Preventing Water Damage In Your Home
Water damage can often be avoided with routine maintenance and
assistance from qualified contractors.
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.
For more information on how to prevent water damage and improve
home safety, please contact your insurance agent.
• 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
• 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.
• Dishwasher - 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 cabinets.
• Refrigerator - 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.
• Sink - Recaulk 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 of grout.
• Sinks - Check under the sink for signs of leaks from water
supply lines or drainpipes.
• Toilets - 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.
• Washing Machine - 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.
• Water heater - 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.
• Air conditioning - 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 regular
• Sump pump - 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
• Fill in any low spots around the house so water drains away from
• 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
• 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 junctions.
• 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 debris.
• 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
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
• 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 be needed.
• 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
• 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.