There are many ways to help protect your home from losses that occur when water finds its way outside of the appliances you rely on to run your household’s daily needs. For most of us, when we think about the causes of severe water damage to our homes, we think about extreme weather like a hurricane or torrential rains. But the unfortunate reality is that extensive damage is often the result of ordinary household plumbing systems and appliances that fail – and these can be just as destructive to your home as an extreme weather event.1
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to help prevent water damage from plumbing problems. It is helpful to understand some of the common causes of water damage. These may include heating and air-conditioning systems, water heaters, appliances, valves, pipes and plumbing fixtures.
Water damage can often go undetected, even if the telltale signs are there. Plumbing that is housed inside the walls of your home, in less-trafficked areas like a basement or attic, or behind a cabinet or appliance, can easily go unnoticed. That’s why it’s important to check your appliances and plumbing from time to time.
- Know where the main water supply enters your home, locate the main shut-off valve and make sure it’s functioning properly.
- If you will be away from home for an extended period, consider shutting off the water supply, but consult with a heating professional first to understand if doing so will compromise any other systems in your home. Maintain a temperature of at least 55 degrees in your home. Also, if your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, do not turn off the water to this system, and maintain sufficient heat to prevent a freeze-up.
- Consider having your air-conditioning system inspected regularly by a professional. Check around the unit for indications of leaks. Check the drain lines annually and clean them if they are clogged. Change the air filter annually at a minimum.
- Inspect water heaters, showers, tubs, toilets, sinks, dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines annually, and have them repaired if there are signs of leaks or corrosion. Be sure to include supply lines, hoses, connections and fittings in the inspection.
- Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet bases, and make repairs as needed.
- If your refrigerator has an ice machine or water dispenser, check the hose between the wall and the refrigerator to determine if it is pinched or stressed. Also look for signs of leaking or wear and tear.
- Check exposed plumbing (pipes, valves, etc.) for signs of leaking or corrosion. Have any pipe damage fixed immediately to prevent more costly repairs in the future.
While you’re considering these ways to help protect your home from a non-weather water disaster, it’s also a good time to make sure you’ve got the appropriate insurance coverage. Contact your local independent agent to review and update your homeowners insurance coverage.