“Water wears away mountains”, so when it enters your home it can cause extensive structural damages, such as wood rot and mold growth.
But by regularly checking appliances and doing basic household chores you can avoid expensive water damage problems that can drain your wallet.
Don’t get flooded with repair bills. Be proactive and follow these easy water damage prevention tips.
1. Regularly Inspect Your Appliances
Any appliance or pipe that’s connected to a water supply line has a chance of springing a leak or bursting.
Since all appliances have a limited lifespan, it’s important to regularly check your fridges, dishwashers, water heaters, ac units, showers, and other related fixtures for signs of failure.
Other than a puddle of water on the floor, here are some other signs that your appliances might be on the fritz:
- Sounds of water running even though nothing is turned on
- Unpleasant odors coming from floors, walls, or drains
- Reduced water pressure
- Mold growing around the appliance
Because many appliances rely on hoses, worn out hoses are a common culprit behind water damage problems. Replace any brittle, rusty, leaking, or damaged hoses as soon as you notice them.
Hoses are relatively cheap, so this is an easy, proactive repair solution that won’t break the bank. You should use the highest quality hose replacements to increase the lifespan of your appliances.
2. Don’t Ignore Leaks
Water doesn’t like to sit in one place. It likes to travel, especially through porous materials like drywall, carpeting, and underneath floorboards.
If a leak is left untreated it can lead to mold growth, staining, and damage to walls and flooring. The faster you address a leak, the less damage there will be and the more likely it will be that your insurance company will accept your water damage claim.
If you have a leaking pipe, apply quick repairs following these steps and then call out a trusted plumber to inspect the problem:
- Most water-based appliances have a water supply valve connected to it that allows you to shut off the water supply at that fixture without turning off the water to the entire house.
- Turn the handle clockwise to shut off the water supply valve.
- Turn on the faucets to release the remaining water that’s left in the pipe.
- Wipe down the pipe and allow it to dry.
- Patch up any cracks using epoxy putty. Wrap the putty up around the leaking area. You can purchase epoxy putty at any hardware store.
A quick fix like this can get you by until you call a plumber to apply permanent repairs, but you shouldn’t rely on it to provide long-term water damage protection.
3. Watch Your Water Bill
Many pipes are hidden in walls and underneath subflooring, making it hard to know if there’s a leak or not.
A 1/8 inch crack in a pipe (for reference, that’s about the size of your pinky nail) can waste up to 250 gallons of water per day.
If you get an unusually high water bill in the mail, you might have a leaking or malfunctioning appliance in your house.
You can also read your water meter to check for leaks.
Most meters are located near the curb by your house and are typically located within in a concrete box marked “water”.
You can pry open the lid by using a screwdriver or pliers.
Before you read it, turn off all the taps in your house. If the dial is still turning then that means you have a leak somewhere.
4. Consider Purchasing a Water Detection Device
A water detection alarm is a device that’s designed to go off when it’s sensor comes into contact with water.
Some of them even come with an auto-shutoff function, that will automatically turn the water supply off if it detects a large amount of water has escaped.
Install them near pipes or appliances such as water heaters, washing machines, or fridges.
These devices can help prevent little leaks from becoming big water damage emergency.
5. Know Where Your Water Main Valve Is & Turn It Off Before Leaving Town
Every homeowner should always know where to locate their water main supply valve is in case of a plumbing emergency, such as a burst pipe.
Turning off the main valve will cut off your home’s entire water supply.
The valve location varies on the design of the house. Check out these three places:
- If you have a basement or crawlspace, the valve will be on an outside wall.
- If your house is built on a slab, it will be located on a wall in the garage or near a water heater.
- Your valve might also be located in the water meter box near the curb marked “water”.
If the valve is located within your house, simply turn the valve clockwise to stop the water.
If the valve is located outside your house, use a wrench or a screwdriver to pry open the water meter box. Use the wrench to turn the valve clockwise.
If you need a visual aid, here’s a video that shows you how to turn off the main water supply valve.
There’s nothing worse than going on a nice vacation only to come home and find your house has been turned into a water park.
If you’re going out of town, turn off the water main to prevent broken faucets and pipes from wreaking havoc on your house while you’re away.
6. Winter Is Coming. Are You Prepared?
Every winter there’s a chance of your pipes freezing, regardless if you live in a colder or warmer region.
When pipes freeze, the water inside them turns into ice and expands. As the ice expands, it creates pressure which causes the pipe to burst.
The pipes most susceptible to freezing are in the low insulated areas of your home, such as the attic or crawlspace. Check this area of the home out and see if you’re pipes are vulnerable.
If you need to add insulation, make sure to follow all directions and wear the necessary protective equipment, especially when dealing with fiberglass insulation.
If you have exposed pipes, consider installing insulation products, such as a “pipe sleeve” or “heat tape”.
During the winter, remember to keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to reach pipes and don’t fiddle with the thermostat. You might be tempted to turn the thermostat down during the night to save on heating bills, but this drop in temperature can cause your pipes to freeze.
7. Roof Maintenance
The roof is your main line of defense against the elements, so it’s important to maintain it.
Get up on the roof every 6 months, and especially after a storm, to check for vulnerabilities or damages.
Here’s what to look for: broken shingles, built up debris from trees, cracked flashing or roof vents. Roof repair is not a DIY job, especially if the surface is wet or slick. In this instance, it’s best to call a storm damage repair company who has the proper safety equipment and licenses.
8. Do Your Chores & Clean Out the Gutters.
Nobody wants to get up and clean the gunk out of the gutters. We get it. But it’s an important chore, especially if you want to prevent water damage problems.
The gutter’s main purpose is to collect excess water off the roof and direct it away from your property.
When the gutters get clogged, water overflows down the side of your house or into your basement instead of away from your property.
This can lead to foundation damage, yard damage and roof leaks.
You should clean your gutters once a year or after severe storms.
Get a ladder and use a scoop or shovel to remove debris from the gutters. Dispose of any debris in a trash bag or plastic tarp.
After you’ve cleaned out all the gunk, flush your gutters out with a garden hose.
9. Be Careful When Planting Trees
Know where major pipelines are located before you plant trees. Trees will grow towards the nearest water source and will easily break pipes apart in order to access the water inside.
There are companies that will mark the location of your sewer line if you don’t know how to find it.
Some tree roots grow more aggressively than others and are more likely to damage your sewer lines. Consult with a landscaper to choose a tree that won’t harm your property.
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