5 tips to prevent water damage in your home

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5 tips to prevent water damage in your home

Most homeowners insurance covers water damage claims up to the limits of your policy. But, it’s much better to prevent water damage in the first place, than to go through the claims process. Water can weaken the foundation of your home, cause dangerous mold to grow, and create a great environment for termites and carpenter ants. Whether you experience a catastrophic water leak or a small unnoticed leak, the damage can be devastating. Here is a list of the most common things you can do to protect your home from water damage.

  1. Clean gutters and downspouts and disconnect hoses

Clean gutters twice a year to avoid blockages and ice dams. If your gutters are clogged with leaves, sticks, nests, and other detritus, they will not work properly, moving water away from your home. On a rainy day, a clogged gutter or downspout creates standing water that may back up and send water spilling through the roof, down into your basement, and pooling against your home’s foundation. Make sure downspouts are clear and secured and point away from your home.

Standing water that’s left in a hose may freeze during winter and back up into the pipe. This may create an ice block that stops your water flow and bursts your pipe, creating damage to walls, floor, and foundation. Always disconnect hoses from outdoor spigots before the first freeze. Make sure that water is turned off and leave the spigots open so that any water left in the pipes can drain.

  1. Maintain landscaping

Some plants and trees have pretty extensive and invasive root systems that can wrap around pipes, grow into your sprinkler system, drainage fields, septic tanks, and clog or break them. Plan before you plant to keep roots away from any water lines and utility pipes. Make sure you maintain trees and shrubs, or even remove them, if necessary, so that they don’t become too big.

  1. Keep an eye on your water bill

Most water pipes are hidden out of sight, behind walls and under floors. You might not even know there’s a leak until after the damage is done. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your water bill each month. If you start to see your usage creep up, for no apparent reason, or get a bill that’s very high, it may be a sign that you have a leak somewhere.

Some of the common areas to check:

  • Dishwashers
  • Ice makers
  • Water heaters
  • Toilets
  • Sinks
  • Washing machines
  • Shower and tubs
  1. Use a drain snake, not chemicals!

Clogged drains happen… it could be your sink, shower, or toilet. Though chemical solutions are popular and convenient, those caustic chemicals are not just eating away and clearing the clog, they’re also eating away at your pipes. And, they can be dangerous to you. If you use drain cleaners on a regular basis, you’re setting yourself up for pipe damage and leaks. The easy solution is to buy a drain snake. You can get one at any hardware store, they’re easy to use, and they can clear away just about any clog without damaging your pipes.

  1. Prevent water damage inside your home

Whether you experience a catastrophic burst pipe or a small unnoticed water leak, the damage may be devastating to your home and very expensive. So what can you do to prevent water events from happening inside your home?

  • Know where the main water shutoff is located. It can be a life-saver if a pipe bursts and limit the damage.
  • Install water shutoff valves on all water lines under sinks and toilets.
  • Repair small leaks around water heaters, refrigerators, dishwashers and other appliances before they become a problem.
  • Know and follow the recommended maintenance procedures for your appliances.
  • Check washing machine hoses for signs of wear and deterioration. Replace hoses than show signs of wear or cracking.
  • Before going on vacation, shut off the water valves to the washing machine.
  • Run lots of cold water when using your garbage disposal so that it won’t clog and cause leaks.
  • Don’t wash extremely dirty or caked clothing in your washing machine. Get the dirt, mud and debris off your clothes, outside, with a garden host before washing, so that you don’t clog the pipes and drainage system inside your house.
  • Never leave the room after you’ve turned on water, especially to fill a tub or sink.

If you do have a problem or incident, hire a reputable plumber or contractor.

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