Water damage in your home could be costly. Not only are your furnishings at risk, but your walls and flooring could also be damaged. Although rain can cause damage, many homeowners face water damage from non-weather sources.
Check out our list of common non-weather causes of water damage so you can watch out for potential problems before they cause major damage.
Have you ever had a dishwasher drain clog and spill water all over your kitchen? You might have been able to quickly clean up the water and unclog the drain to avoid damage.
What if the water hadn’t spilled into an area you could see? You may not have known the dishwasher was leaking until the water damaged your floor or cabinetry.
Appliances that use water wear down over time. The hoses within your dishwasher, fridge or washing machine also break down with use. A leaking hose or cracked housing could cause a slow leak of water to drip outside of the appliance.
Over time, this could cause damage to the appliance itself and the area where water is dripping. You might also see a decrease in the effectiveness and efficiency of your appliances. Plan to inspect your appliances at least once a year. Homes with high levels of mineral deposits, like a home with a well, may need more frequent inspections.
2. Showers, Tubs and Toilets
People often forget that showers, tubs and toilets are sealed with caulking around the sides and base. When this caulk breaks down, water can begin to seep out of your bathtub or the base of your toilet. This exposes your bathroom to moisture that can warp floorboards. You could even potentially see damage on the ceiling below a second-floor bathroom.
Much of the damage caused by leaky showers or tubs comes from long exposure to water which is typically excluded in most policies. You may not see water pooling at the base of your toiler or along the edge of your shower.
To help prevent water from escaping, be sure to regularly inspect the caulk and seals around your tubs or toilets. Re-caulking any cracks or damage could stop water leaks before they start.
3. Hoses and Seals
Your home’s plumbing system includes a number of hoses and seals that help bring water safely to appliances, faucets and bathroom amenities. Like the hoses within your appliances, these hoses and seals break down over time. A worn-out seal or cracked hose often cause slow leaks that could lead to serious water damage.
Hoses and seals should be inspected once a year, just like your appliances. Don’t forget to inspect any hoses going to major home systems. You’ll generally find seals where a hose or pipe meets another object. The drain lines under a sink, for example, usually have rubber and plastic seals that connect the different parts. If this seal loosens or the sealant cracks, you could be exposing the area under your sink to excessive water.
Replace any hoses or seals that have damage like cracks or leaks. Even if your hoses look to be in good shape, it’s recommended that you replace them every five to seven years. Older hoses may not show any damage but could have buildup on the inside that may eventually burst the hose.
4. Damaged Pipes
A sudden rush of water as a pipe bursts is possibly one of the worst experiences you can have as a homeowner. Burst pipes not only release a large amount of water at once, but you’ll also probably need to shut off the main water valve to stop the water from continuing to flow.
Although pipes can burst due to freezing, they can also burst if underlying problems aren’t resolved, including:
- Water Hammer: A water hammer, or hydraulic shock, is a loud clunking noise that happens when water flow is suddenly cut off. For example, you might hear a loud bang when your washing machine is done filling the tank. The water flows freely until the valve is turned off. When the water hits the closed valve, the pressure causes a shockwave down your pipes. In addition to being loud and often annoying, a water hammer could wear down the joints in your pipes.
- High Water Pressure: Pipes, hoses and appliances in your home rely on consistent water pressure to work properly. When the pressure is too high, these systems can potentially break down from the excess pressure put on joints and seals. If your water pressure is set too high for a long time, pipes can develop weak spots that rupture. A sudden increase in pressure can likewise cause a pipe to burst. A water pressure regulator, that helps control the amount of water pressure allowed into your home’s plumbing system, should be checked if you think the pressure may be too high. If your home is older and does not have a water pressure regulator, you should consider having one installed to help keep the water pressure to no more than 80 psi.
- Hard Water: Homes that have hard water have increased calcium and magnesium deposits in the water. These mineral deposits can cause buildup, known as scale, within your pipes. The buildup can cause pipes to clog up, which could lead to increase pressure and a burst pipe. You may need to consider investing in a water softener to help reduce the number of minerals in your water so you have less buildup in your pipes.
Burst pipes, however, are usually the result of a damaged pipe that went unnoticed. Small cracks in the pipe or leaky seals may not be easy to identify. If left alone, water could slowly leak from the damaged section of the pipe and cause serious home water damage without your knowledge.
A pipe enclosed in a wall, for example, may leak for months or even years before the water damage is visible outside of the wall. One way to help monitor for damage or leaks is to watch your water bill. Compare your current usage to water bills from the past to see if your usage has increased without explanation. This could be a sign of a leaking pipe, as the constant flow of water from the pipe increases the amount you use.
Reduce Your Risk of Water Damage
In addition to regular inspections of your pipes and appliances, you can reduce your risk of water damage by using tools like a water alarm. Water alarms and water sensors work similarly to a smoke detector. Instead of detecting smoke, however, water alarms go off when their water sensors come into contact with water. You can place a water detecting sensor near appliances, such as behind your washing machine, to detect leaks in hard-to-monitor places.
Your homeowners insurance is another important tool in case you experience unexpected water damage. Most homeowners policies cover water damage from the sudden and accidental release of water from an appliance or leaking pipes. But, be sure to take immediate action to fix any active leaks because most policies exclude any long-term water damage. This coverage could help you replace or repair expensive home structures, like flooring, in the event you experience major water damage caused by a sudden and accidental release of water in your home subject to the terms and conditions of the policy.
Insurance Information Institute: https://www.iii.org/press-release/water-damage-whats-covered-whats-not-111809
The Spruce: https://www.thespruce.com/fix-water-hammer-pipes-4126485