According to the plumbing chain RotoRooter, only eight percent of floods are caused by weather. The other 92% are caused by appliance failure and plumbing problems (30% and 62%, respectively). That means that, in the vast majority of cases, water damage in your home is caused by something INSIDE. From washing machines to ice makers, there’s a lot more than rain you need to think about if you want your house to stay dry!
Second to wind and hail, flooding and water damage are the most common claims on a homeowner’s policy, so it’s entirely likely you’ll have to address a watery mess at some point in your home owning career. What to do? Like the Boy Scouts say: be prepared! Since the most likely cause of flooding in your home will be found inside the house, let’s look first at some tips for preventing a plumbing- or appliance-related problem.
- Know how to shut the water off in your home. When a plumbing disaster strikes, you don’t want to waste precious time looking for the water shutoff!
- Install a water flow leak sensor with an automatic shutoff valve. For around $80 (installed), you can prevent hundreds—perhaps thousands—of dollars of water damage in your home. There are basically two types: whole home sensors and appliance-specific sensors. Both work by detecting leaks and automatically cutting off the water flow.
- Inspect and replace washing machine supply and drain lines regularly. If your washing machine has rubber hoses, it’s recommended you replace them about every five years. Alternatively, you might consider replacing rubber with stainless steel braided hoses—far more durable and resist dry rot.
- If you move the refrigerator to clean behind it, be very careful. Pulling the refrigerator out too far can break the water line for the ice maker; pushing it back too far or too quickly can also cause damage.
- Make a regular habit of checking under your sinks—kitchen, bathroom, and utility room—to make sure there are no leaks in the supply lines or drain pipe.
Outside the home, some things to consider include:
- Make sure the gutters on your home are clean, functioning, and fully attached. Leaking or under-performing gutters won’t effectively drain water off your roof and away from the exterior walls and can contribute to flooding.
- Inspect your home’s foundation for cracks and make sure any needed repairs are done effectively and immediately. Even a small crack in the foundation can lead to water damage, so be vigilant, and contact a reputable contractor to get the repair done properly.
- Check the sewer lines. Worse than a flood, a backed up sewer line brings…well, you know. No matter the age of your home, you should have your sewer line inspected. A lot of companies can do a video inspection for a reasonable fee. If you end up needing work done on your sewer line, the good news is that trenchless repair techniques offer a great way to repair the problem without digging up the yard.
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It pays to be proactive when it comes to water damage! Got a tip or trick on flood prevention around the home? Care to share a horror story? Or perhaps you have a tale of amazing feats of home hydrology? We’d love to hear from you, so please share in the comments!