There’s nothing more exasperating than hearing the persistent drip of water that’s found its way into your home. Water is lovely in lakes and swimming pools, but when it leaks into your house, it can rapidly cause significant damage.
Fortunately, there are many methods of offsetting the risk of water damage, whether it’s from a leaky pipe or flooding. Water issues are almost routine, with around 12% of water usage in the average home resulting from leaks. The average insurance claim for leaking pipes is roughly $50,000—not something you’d want to experience first-hand.
That said, here’s how you can best avoid this watery dilemma.
Cover Your Bases
The first thing to note is that unwanted water can come from a variety of sources. Leaking appliances such as the dishwasher and washing machines, water pipes, clogged drains, leaks in the roof, windows, or walls, and flooding or groundwater from an outside source can all be culprits. This gives you a basic idea of what to keep in mind when considering how to prevent water damage..
We’ve compiled a shortlist to lay down the foundation for a damage-free home.
It’s essential to inspect your home and overall property thoroughly before you purchase it, or sign a lease at the very least. This means checking various parts of the building as well as the appliances with their attachments.
- Assess the roof to see whether there are missing or broken tiles or shingles.
- Check walls and floors for any damp and mold—signs of a growing problem you can easily avert before it turns into a disaster.
- Note if there are cracks in walls, window frames, and plaster.
- Inspect the pipe fittings and hose connections for all appliances.
- Check gutters and clear them—this is an easy enough job that doesn’t require any special equipment.
- Have A Plan
It’s best to have a contingency plan in place. After all, you cannot predict every problem. Make sure that everyone in your home knows where the stopcock is—otherwise known as the primary water supply—and that they can access it easily. A lot of water damage can occur in a very short time.
Another small thing that could save money and upset is keeping your home relatively tidy and organized. This way, you can cover possessions quickly in case of a leak.
- Monitor Sinks, Pipes, And Drains
Several factors can lead to leaking sinks, pipes, and drains. Sinks and drains can become problem areas easily. The number one culprit of clogs and blockages is the disposal of oil and food waste in the sink. Grease can latch onto the inside of pipes and cause damage, or block the drain entirely.
Another issue to watch out for is the freezing of pipes in icy weather, which can cause them to burst. Fix any damage to pipes by sealing, insulating, or replacing them. In addition, check the caulking in areas such as the showers or baths and reseal them if needed. Keeping an eye on these takes very little time and can save a lot of stress.
- Take Care Of Your Basement
The basement of your house can be an unexpected problem area. Instead of leaking from above, water can seep in through the foundations, which can come as a total surprise. It can also accumulate quickly, especially during rainy months or when snow melts.
A sump pump can be useful if the water table is high, as it’s more likely that your basement will flood from time to time.
- Keep On Top Of Your Water Bill
If your water bill seems unreasonably high when you know you haven’t consciously used more water, it’s a good sign of a leak. This is actually a great way to prevent worse damage. If you can’t see the leak yet, then you might catch it in time to prevent lasting harm.
- Ongoing Monitoring
Apart from assessing all plumbing and appliances when you first move into a house, you need to check periodically for issues that could cause water damage.
One way to do this is to turn all faucets and appliances off, and then switch off the water mains. After an hour or two, your water meter shouldn’t show any water output. However, if it’s still ticking over, chances are high that you have a leak. It might seem laborious to do this regularly, but it could prevent a host of problems.
A lot of water meters have a leak indicator, so you can keep an eye on this too.
- Invest In A Leak Detection Device
The most basic leak detection devices are not too expensive and can be useful in alerting you to leaks before the situation is dire.
These detectors monitor the flow of water through pipes, and you usually install them at the main entry point to the home. If the leak detector picks up abnormal flow, it cuts the water off by closing a valve and you would have to reopen it manually.
What If Something Still Goes Wrong?
Sometimes, all the preparation in the world doesn’t guarantee that you’ll never experience water damage. You can have the newest pipes, a bathroom layout that allows for easy plumbing maintenance, or a well-looked after roof. Despite that, water could still find a way in. It takes vigilance and self-discipline to maintain your plumbing regularly, and sometimes, skipping an inspection just once opens the door to trouble.
If you don’t have the time or energy to perform regular inspections, try to at least keep an eye on what’s right in front of you. If you see damp patches or signs of mold, it’s time to delve deeper and do a proper investigation.
If a leak becomes apparent, it is vital to act quickly—the first step, no matter what the cause, is to turn off all water sources.
If it’s not too serious, you can try to find the leak before taking further action. But if water is threatening to cause major damage to your home, start by documenting the damage for insurance, and clearing up whatever you can.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
This old adage applies to many things, and water damage is no exception. It might seem obsessive and boring to spend time checking your pipes and plumbing, but this ongoing investment is much more manageable than coughing up thousands (or tens of thousands) in order to fix catastrophic problems.