Preventative Maintenance Tips to Help Avoid Water Damage in Your Home
August 04, 2011
Damage caused by water leaves behind unsightly and often devastating results in your home. According to the insurance industry, “as a general rule, water damage from poor or infrequent maintenance, neglect or general deterioration isn't covered.” Proper maintenance can help you prevent messy and expensive damage to your home.
Be aware of the areas in your home which are at most risk and how you can prevent unnecessary damage.
- Check the caulk and grout around showers and tubs; remove and replace if deteriorated or cracked. Water leaks in these areas cause staining and soft areas in nearby floors and walls.
- Check under sinks for wet spots. These may indicate a leak from your water supply lines or drain pipes.
- Look inside your toilet tank at the bolts connecting your tank to the toilet bowl. If these are rusted or corroded you have the potential for a flood if the tank starts to leak.
- Also check the rubber parts in your toilet tank. If you touch them and come away with black residue on your hand, the rubber is too brittle and has the potential to leak.
- Be mindful of clogging your toilet. Don't put too much toilet paper in or use objects that hang on the bowl, such as deodorants. Also, don't flush any type of wipes (baby wipes, etc). These items do not dissolve and tend to get caught on the irregular surfaces inside drain pipes. If they stay long enough they'll build up and cause a stoppage.
- Avoid using chlorine tablet cleaners in your toilet as they can corrode internal plastic and rubber parts, causing a leak.
- Check the toilet's water supply tube to make sure it isn't too old or brittle. Replace it immediately if it's showing deterioration.
- Replace caulk around your kitchen sink. Also, check the pipes for leaks, looking for any dripping or damp spots.
- Check the hose that connects the water supply to your dishwasher for leaks. Look around the base of the dishwasher for evidence of leaks, such as discolored, warped or soft flooring materials or even water damage to nearby cabinets.
- A slow draining sink can be an indication of a partially blocked drain. Contact a professional to clean the drain.
- Your refrigerator is another place leaks can occur in your kitchen. A wet spot on the floor near the refrigerator may be a sign of a crimped ice maker line about to burst.
- Check your water heater first thing in the morning, before any hot water is used. Do this by filling a large white bowl with hot water. If the water is rusty orange or brown colored, your water heater tank is probably compromised and may soon fail. Replace your water heater before the tank begins to leak and cause serious damage.
- Check around your water heater, if you see any signs of water your tank may be leaking. Replace your water heater immediately.
- If your washing machine hose fails, you could be faced with 70 pounds of pressure expelling up to 650 gallons of water per hour. Washing machine hoses are usually made of reinforced rubber, which can lose resiliency and burst as they gets older. Inspect your washing machine hose regularly and replace the hose if it appears brittle, bulging or cracked. Continue to replace the hose every three to five years as part of a proactive maintenance program.
Silent Leaks & Emergency Response
- Some leaks are hidden. You can check for these types of leaks by first, turning off all faucets and water using appliances. (Don't flush toilets for one hour.) Next, record the water meter reading. If the flow indicator is spinning or the meter reading changes while no water is being used, you probably have a leaking pipe.
- In case of an emergency, make sure everyone in your household knows where the main water shutoff valve is located and how to open and close it. It's a good practice to check it regularly and to shut it off if you're going to be away for several days or longer.
Have more questions? Contact A.J. Perri on our Ask An Expert page.
Last Updated: September 13, 2023