Private Lakes are Nice-Except When They’re Located in Your Living Room

Can you imagine this happening to you? You come home from work, open the front door and step on a squishy wet carpet. You hear running water and start walking towards the sound, your shoes making little splashing sounds as you go. And there it is. That load of wash that you started before you left for work is stuck in the rinse cycle because the cold water hose has burst. Water has been pumping out onto your floor rather than into the washing machine for 8 to 10 hours.

A nightmare scenario? You bet, but one that was totally preventable.

According to the Insurance Information Institute water damage is the second most frequent type of claim on a homeowners policy (wind and hail is number 1). When people think of water damage they almost immediately think of damage resulting from storms and strong winds. Without doubt shingles that are blown off, windows that are cracked and broken by debris and siding that is ripped from the side of a house by high winds will cause water damage. However, most water damage is not caused by Mother Nature.

When you think about it, water is an integral part of your home. Typically 60% of the space in your house has either an appliance or fixture that uses water or has plumbing running in the wall. Each of those appliances and fixtures, and even the pipes, represents an opportunity for a water leak that can lead to serious water damage.

Water damage isn’t always the result of a gushing flow from a broken hose. It can sneak up on you.

How “watertight” is your home?

Unless you live in a log cabin with outdoor plumbing your home is susceptible to potential water damage caused from within. The best way to prevent serious problems is to perform routine maintenance on appliances and to be aware of water where water shouldn’t be. Like we said, leaks that can grow into lakes are sneaky.

Here’s a short list of things to watch for:

  • If you notice an inexplicable increase in your water bill, try this. Make sure all of your faucets are off and turn off the water supply to your toilets.
  • Go to your water meter and if the dial or needle is moving showing water usage you most likely have a leak somewhere in the house. Do the quick survey steps shown below.
  • Look for water where water shouldn’t be like under the sink (kitchen and bathrooms), refrigerator, washer, hot water heater, forced air furnace and on floors along baseboards.
  • If you have bathrooms on the second floor, look at the ceiling of the rooms directly below them. Stains on ceilings and walls anywhere in the house indicate a leak.
  • And then there’s the obvious leaky faucet but don’t limit your inspection to the kitchen and bathrooms. Check the connections for the hot water heater, toilets, ice maker, dish washer and clothes washer as well.

Now you should have at least one suspect location to explain your higher water bill. Fortunately many leaks are of the DIY repair variety but for those that have created stains in the ceiling and wall you’re going to want a professional both to detect and repair the leak and ensure that the area is completely dry to preclude mold growth.

An ounce of prevention…

There’s good news and there’s not such good news when it comes to preventive maintenance.

Hoses, which frequently fail are inexpensive and easy to install. Washers almost always use hoses to connect to the water source and occasionally so do dish washers and ice makers. If they appear to be frayed, swollen or worn replace them with steel braided hoses which are available at most all home improvement stores for under $20 a pair.

Clothes washers and hot water heaters are the two appliances that can create an immediate calamitous situation should they fail. These are the two appliances that you really want to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance requirements. Other than the obvious, worn hoses on a washer and rust on a water heater, there’s no way to predict failure unless you start tearing the appliance apart and that’s beyond the skill set for the average homeowner.

So there you have it. By the way, if you find yourself with a floor covered in standing water…dial 911 and ask for the fire department. They have the equipment to get rid of most of the water and more importantly, they can render the house free of the risk of electrical shock. Your next call should be to your insurance company’s claim office to get the ball rolling on restoring your home.

Stay dry!

Thank you Olympus Insurance for this wonderful information

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