The Main Causes of Water Damage – Knowledge & Prevention

According to Travelers Insurance, 51% of all homeowner claims are due to wind, hail and weather related water damage, while 53% of non-weather water damage claims are related to plumbing issues. Almost 90% of those claims may have been prevented by leak detectors or even basic home maintenance checks. With the average cost of a water damage insurance claim being $7000, it’s crucial for homeowners to be knowledgeable and proactive in identifying and repairing a problem that might result in water damage.

Storms & Rain

When large storms or hurricanes pass through, they can bring heavy rains, wind, hail and even storm surge. Sometimes the damage is obvious, but quite often roofs can sustain damage that we may not see until it’s dripping through the ceiling. Don’t wait for this to happen! It is important to have a professional inspect your roof annually to detect and repair damage before it becomes an issue.

Water Heaters

Have a plumber inspect and maintain your water heater on a regular basis; 75% of water heaters will fail before they are 12 years old. Be your own inspector and make a habit of checking your water heater for signs of wear; rust or grime build up on the outside, bulging of the tank or standing water around the base of the tank in the drip pan. All are signs that your water heater may need professional attention.

Appliances

Replace hoses on appliances, like washing machines, dishwashers and icemakers, at any sign of wear. The average age of a failed washing machine supply hose is around 8 years. Hoses are inexpensive, so replace them early and well before the manufacturer’s suggestion. Don’t scrimp on cheap replacements, because you will get what you pay for! Replace with high quality parts, as this will still be less costly than water damage repair. Consider having your appliances serviced occasionally to keep them working their best.

Faucets, Sinks and Toilets

Pay attention to your plumbing systems around & under your sinks. Look for signs of wear, including noisy pipes, signs of moisture on walls or floors, or rust stained water. The same attention should be paid to your toilet. Stay in the room until it finishes refilling. Get your toilets inspected regularly by a plumber. Gaskets and seals can fail, supply hoses and tanks can leak, or parts can break down; easy and inexpensive fixes that when left ignored or unchecked can become costly. A continuously running toilet can waste over 200 gallons of water a day. A faucet leaking one drip per second can waste over 300 gallons year! Both will have a huge impact on your water bill, and the longer you ignore the issue, the more damage from water you may incur.

Ensure that everyone in your household knows where and how to shut off the main water supply to your home. When you notice a leak shut if off at the source fast!

Tips to Prevent Water Leaks and Damage

  1. Watch your water bill for unusually high usage. A large jump from one month to another, that is inconsistent with the previous year, could be a sign that there is a problem.
  2. Turn off your water main and use no water for two hours. Take a reading before this test and then after the two hours has lapsed. If the reading has changed, you likely have a leak. Many water meters have leak detectors as well, a small dial. Once you’ve turned your water main off, if the dial continues moving, that could be an indication of a leak.
  3. Check you toilet by placing several drops of food coloring in the tank. If the color is in the bowl in 15 minutes or less with no flushing, you probably have a leak. (Make sure to flush several times after this process, to prevent staining.)
  4. Fix leaks and drips as soon as you notice them. They are quite often quick and easy repairs that you can do on your own for little cost.
  5. Use inexpensive water leak detectors and automatic shutoff systems to catch leaks early. They are easily found at your local hard ware stores or online.

Sources: Water Damage By the Numbers – waterdamagedefense.com. Statistics image based on Travelers Property Casualty Claim data from 2009-2015 – 2016 The Travelers Indemnity Company.

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