Mention water damage and most people think of flooding after days of heavy downpours. Yet, even on a sunny day, your home can become waterlogged. Whether the culprit is a leaking water heater, overloaded washing machine, or an overflowing sink, the damage to your home can be devastating-and costly. These tips, developed from research conducted by the CPCU Society's Northeast Louisiana Chapter, will help keep your home dry, and will reduce the likelihood of claims in your homeowner's policy.
How can you prevent or reduce water-related losses to your home?
- Know where the main water shutoffs to your home are located. Also, install water shutoff valves on water lines under sinks and toilets, and leading to outside faucets.
- React quickly to small leaks around water heaters, refrigerators, dishwashers, and other appliances before they become more troublesome ones.
- Know-and follow-the recommended maintenance procedures for your appliances, such as periodically draining the water heater to clean out the sediment at the bottom of the tank.
- Check clothes washer hoses for signs of deterioration, and replace hoses that show any evidence of cracking. Also, before you leave home for an extended period, shut off the water valve leading to the clothes washer.
- Use plenty of water when operating garbage disposals so that waste is flushed out of the system.
- Be aware of what goes down drains (grease, lint, and dirt in particular).
- Don't wash heavy-duty dirt down drains, and don't put extremely dirty clothing in clothes washers. Instead, use a garden hose on the soiled item outside the house, so that the dirt doesn't get into the drainage system inside the house.
- When a problem does arise, hire an established contractor who has a good reputation.
- When a plumber is at the house to make repairs, have him or her conduct a quick check on other appliances, drains, and pipes to ensure that everything is in proper working order.
- Don't leave the room after you have turned on the water, especially full force, in the bathtub or a sink.
- Consider buying a water detector. This relatively new product, similar to a smoke detector in function and in price, sounds an alarm when it detects a leak. They range in sophistication from simple models costing less than $20 each to more elaborate alarms that can be tied into a central station. Placed on the floor near such items as water heaters and air conditioners, they could alert you to a leak before serious damage occurs.