Some types of water damage are what the insurance industry calls “acts of God”—unpredictable events you can prepare for, but not prevent. However, statistics show that the most common types of water damage affecting residences are usually preventable and the risk factor can be substantially reduced by taking proactive steps. From a survey of homeowners’ insurance claims conducted by the Institute for Business & Home Safety, here are three frequent examples:
Supply Line Ruptures
Water entering your house through typical 1/2-inch supply pipes is under pressure from the municipal water supply—an average of about 60 p.s.i. A broken supply line can continuously inundate your house with over 100 gallons per hour. Here are some important preventive steps:
- Don’t ignore oozing joints or tiny pinhole leaks. They may be a red flag for a major pipe rupture about to occur. Call a plumber at first sign.
- Protect your pipes in freezing weather with foam pipe insulation on all exposed supply lines. Seal gaps in the structure that allow frigid outside air to contact water pipes. Let faucets drip during cold spells.
- Know where your main water shutoff valve is and test it annually.
Water damage from toilet mishaps can exceed $5,000 per incident. Most are due to a clogged, overflowing toilet bowl. Toilet paper is the only paper product that should ever go into a toilet. After flushing, make sure the bowl clears properly and the tank fill valve shuts off before you leave the bathroom. Periodically test the shutoff valve on the wall behind the toilet.
Water Heater Failure
Your water heater is directly connected to a 1/2-inch supply line. Therefore, a ruptured water heater will continue to release water even after the tank itself is empty. Be alert to evidence of an impending tank failure. Water pooling around the unit or the sound of drips sizzling on the burner under the tank are important warning signs that indicate a plumber should be contacted immediately. Also, have the tank flushed annually to remove sediment that accelerates internal corrosion.
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