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Prevent Home Flooding in Winter

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

prevent home flooding in winter

While home flooding is an all-season potential, some indoor water damage is strictly winter-specific. Plummeting temperatures and wilder weather in many locales stresses home structure and systems, increasing the risk that water will find a way to cause expensive damage. Here are three common sources of home flooding in winter:

Frozen Pipes

Water supply lines may freeze and burst when outdoor temperatures drop to the mid-20s or below. Home flooding due to ruptured frozen pipes often results from uninsulated plumbing routed through unheated zones. To reduce the potential for home flooding:

  • Insulate accessible spans of water supply pipes located in unheated zones like the attic, crawl space, and garage.
  • Locate and seal openings in exterior walls that allow frigid outdoor air to contact pipes routed through walls.  
  • When frigid temperatures are forecast, open a few indoor taps to allow a continuous trickle of water overnight. Also, maintain the furnace thermostat setting of at least 60 degrees. The extra expense of trickling water and heating is far less than the cost to repair home flooding damage.
  • If the water flow stops at a specific fixture or area of the house (a sign of potential freezing), turn off the home’s main water valve and call a plumber ASAP.

Ice Dams

Mounds of ice on the roof near gutters block drainage from melting snow and cause pooling. Because roof shingles don’t resist standing water, leakage into the attic and living spaces may occur.

Ice dams are triggered by household heat infiltrating the attic, warming upper roof portions while lower roof surfaces remain frozen. To prevent home flooding due to ice dams:

  • Eliminate attic heat infiltration by locating and sealing ceiling cracks and gaps in living spaces.
  • Verify that attic insulation coverage is uniform and meets current Department of Energy standards.

Basement Flooding

Rapid melting of deep snowfall has the same effect as heavy rain in summer. As soil becomes over-saturated, water may penetrate cracks and gaps in basement walls. Sealing walls to waterproof the basement, as well as installation and proper maintenance of a basement sump pump, helps prevent potential home flooding in all seasons.

Water Damage: How to Prevent Mold on Clothes

Thursday, October 1st, 2020
prevent mold on clothes

Since mold is a frequent side-effect of home water damage, considering ways to prevent mold on clothes is a worthwhile preventive measure. Mold grows indoors when moisture and dormant mold spores come together. Fabrics including clothing—especially those made of natural fibers—support mold growth following water damage. Either direct contact with released water, or the unusually high humidity typically present inside a water-damaged house, may be sufficient to trigger mold growth on clothing.  

How Mold Affects Clothing

  • Staining. Mold contamination may discolor fabrics with dark or purple-colored stains.
  • Odors. Clothing contaminated by mold will have a persistent pungent smell very noticeable to the person wearing the clothes as well as others nearby.
  • Physical symptoms. Individuals with a sensitivity to certain types of mold may experience allergic reactions such as respiratory symptoms or skin rash due to inhaling mold spores from contaminated clothing.

Ways To Prevent Mold On Clothes

  • Clothing affected by water damage should be machine-washed ASAP with laundry soap and bleach at the hottest water setting the fabric is suitable for. Run clothes through two full washing cycles.
  • If clothes cannot be exposed to bleach, add a cup of vinegar to the first wash cycle, instead. Vinegar has anti-microbial properties that help prevent mold on clothes. In the second wash cycle, add half a cup of baking soda to neutralize odors associated with mold.
  • Air-dry outdoors in sunlight, if possible, to prevent mold on clothes. Ultraviolet rays present in sunlight destroy mold.
  • If certain fabrics must be dry cleaned instead of washed, place the clothes in a plastic bag and seal it. Inform the dry cleaner that mold is an issue and point out any specific mold stains you are aware of.  
  • To prevent mold on clothes in seasonal storage, consider the potential for water damage and/or chronic moisture. Certain areas such as the basement or attic may be at greater risk for water damage and/or are chronically damp and contaminated with mold spores. Store clothes in a location with favorable air circulation and relative humidity no higher than 60%.  

How to Prevent Water Damage When Defrosting a Freezer

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020
Defrosting a Freezer

To prevent water damage while defrosting a freezer should be a simple procedure if everything goes right: Unplug the unit, leave the door open to allow the ice to melt, and monitor water as it gradually flows through the drain line into the drip pan at the bottom of the unit.

When everything doesn’t go right and attempts to prevent water damage while defrosting a freezer aren’t successful, these may be common causes:

Clogged or frozen drain line.  If this occurs, water may pool in the bottom of the freezer unit as the ice melts instead of flowing freely through the drain line and into the drip pan. As water accumulation becomes deeper, it will leak out of the freezer onto the floor and/or behind the unit. A blocked drain line may be due to debris such as food particles or because ice has formed inside the line.

Water overflowing from the drip pan. The freezer drip pan beneath the unit is wide and can hold substantial water to prevent water damage during defrosting. If the drip pan overflows during or immediately after defrosting the freezer, however, it could be due to:

  • Excess ice inside the freezer compartment. Thick ice formation on freezer walls may increase the volume of water enough to overflow the drip pan before the evaporation process can take place. A common cause of excess ice is the infiltration of humid outside air into the freezer compartment due to a worn, leaky door gasket.
  • Evaporation in the drip pan is too slow to prevent water damage. After the unit is restarted, water collected in the drip pan is evaporated by heat released from condenser coils located in the bottom of the freezer just above the drip pan. However, dirty, dusty condenser coils can impede the evaporation process, allowing the drip pan to fill and soon overflow, resulting in water damage around the freezer as well as triggering toxic mold growth.

To diagnose and prevent water damage due to freezer defrosting issues, professional service by a qualified appliance technician is recommended.

3 Ways to Prevent Water Damage to Your Home While Traveling

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

leaving on vacationIt’s a homeowner’s nightmare scenario: Returning from a vacation or even just a weekend getaway to find your house inundated by catastrophic water damage. A quarter-inch crack in a water supply line releases more than 250 gallons in only a few hours. Imagine the potential damage if you’re away from home and leakage continues for days. As time elapses, water soaks deep into the structure, permanently deteriorating building materials. Possessions are ruined, toxic mold contamination is triggered.

Clearly, preventing water damage while you’re away is preferable to all other options. Here are three ways to ensure that your homecoming doesn’t include a distressing surprise.

Maintain The Plumbing

Don’t ignore early warning signs of failing pipes such as dripping beneath sinks and other fixtures, or in the basement or crawl space. Water heater ruptures are also another common source of water damage due to internal corrosion. Leakage from the tank is often a red flag of impending rupture. These issues should be resolved by a plumber.

Rubber hoses connecting the washing machine to hot and cold faucets behind the unit are prone to sudden failure and frequently implicated in severe home water damage. Replace rubber hoses with braided stainless steel lines that are more resilient and last longer.

Prevent Freezing

Indoor water supply lines can freeze and rupture during winter, particularly in a frigid, unoccupied house. If you’re going away, set the furnace thermostat to 60 degrees day and night while you’re gone. Open cabinets and closets to allow warm air to circulate into wall spaces where pipes are routed. If you have exposed supply lines in the crawl space or attic, consider installing pipe insulation to prevent freezing.

Turn Off The Water

For the most definitive water damage prevention, turning off all water to the house is a good idea. Locate the main water shutoff valve. If you don’t know, a plumber can show you where it is and also make sure you have the correct tool to operate it. Test the valve now, to verify it turns easily. If it’s difficult to turn, don’t force it—consult a plumber.

What Is A Water Alarm System And How Can It Help Me?

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

water leak alarmA serious water leak inside your home can be a crisis if it happens when you’re asleep or in another part of the house. If it happens while you’re away from home, it can be a catastrophe. Plumbing supply system failures are the number one cause of indoor water damage. Even a tiny 1/8-inch crack in a supply line can release 250 gallons per day. A basic water alarm system alerts you to leaks occurring inside the home by sounding an audio alarm. Higher-tech systems, however, now take leak detection to the next level. Here’s what’s available today from the simplest to the more sophisticated water alarm systems.

  • Wireless audio alerts. These basic, battery-powered units can be placed at strategic spots where water leakage may occur: behind the washing machine, under the water heater and beneath kitchen and bathroom sinks, for example. The basement floor is another common location. If water is detected, a piercing audio alarm similar to a smoke detector sounds. Occupants inside the home are alerted to take action to prevent further damage.
  • Wi-fi connected water alarms. Increasingly common, these detectors are placed in vulnerable locations for water leakage and wirelessly connect to your home network. If water is detected, the system emits an audio alarm plus sends a text alert. With a smartphone app, the homeowner is immediately informed that leakage has been detected and also the exact location inside the house where it occurred.
  • Auto-shutoff systems. If a serious leak happens while you’re not home, simply receiving an alert on your phone may not be enough to avoid expensive consequences. By the time you can get home (or have a third party go shut off the water) considerable damage is done. Water alarm systems with auto-shutoff function detect leakage, alert you via smartphone app, and then automatically shut off the main household water valve, too—all within seconds. This system combines both instant alert and proactive damage control, providing the most comprehensive protection.

For more advice about water alarm systems from the industry leader in water damage recovery, contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.



3 Possible Causes Of Water Damage To Check On Regularly

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

ceiling water damageWaiting for it to happen isn’t the best strategy to avoid water damage in the home. Many water damage crisis events are actually the culmination of an ongoing problem that’s been worsening for some time. Keeping an eye on a few of the most likely suspects—and taking prompt preventive action, ASAP—is always preferable to reacting after the fact. To avoid water damage in the home before it happens, here are three possible causes to check on regularly:

Roof Leakage
Chronic roof leakage can severely damage wooden attic structure, ruin insulation and spawn toxic mold before you’re aware of it. By the time roof leakage finally drips through the ceiling down into living spaces, extensive attic water damage is a fait accompli. A couple of times a year, climb into the attic and look for evidence of leaks. If it isn’t raining, you may only see evidence of previous water intrusion such as dark streaks on the underside of sub-roofing, rotting wood structure, saturated or deteriorated insulation and the telltale musty odor of mold contamination.

Plumbing Issues
Drips and other signs of plumbing dysfunction shouldn’t be accepted as “normal.” A dripping water supply line is a red flag warning of a potentially catastrophic pipe rupture that could flood your house with hundreds of gallons. Inspect water supply lines anywhere they are visible including inside kitchen and bathroom cabinets and behind fixtures. Shine a flashlight into the crawl space and look for wet spots or dried mineral residue on pipes that indicates seepage.

Sewer Problems
Buried under your yard, the household sewer line can harbor a hidden source of water damage, poised to strike. Tree root intrusion, collapsing segments and other unseen dysfunction can trigger reflux of raw sewage into the house—a toxic biohazard that requires extensive professional decontamination to make the premises safe again. Video inspection of the sewer line is the gold standard to check for developing problems before a backup occurs. Schedule inspection with a qualified plumber every three to five years.

3 Tips To Minimize Water Damage In Your Home

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

water shutoffEliminating every possible cause isn’t always possible, but preventive steps to at least minimize water damage can substantially limit its consequences. Water is eight times more likely to damage your home than a fire and, in many cases, may be more extensive and costly. However, a few general principles can minimize water damage, cut your losses and facilitate recovery.

  • Know where the main shutoff valve is. Every adult occupant should know the location of the home’s main shutoff valve and be able turn it off in the event of a plumbing rupture or overflow. It’s also a good idea to turn off the main valve if you’re leaving home for a few days. In most houses, it’s outside where the main water line enters an exterior wall. Shutoff valves may be very difficult or even impossible to turn. Test it now—before an emergency occurs. If the valve is stubborn or won’t rotate, call a plumber for repair.
  • Check hoses and lines to appliances. These are known weak links in household plumbing. Rubber supply hoses connected to the home’s washing machine are at risk of rupture after only a few years. These should be replaced by braided stainless steel lines that have long expected service life. If the plastic water line supplying your refrigerator ice maker doesn’t inspire confidence, upgrade to a stainless steel replacement with copper shutoff valve. Once or twice a year, remove the kick plate at the front of the dishwasher and look underneath with a flashlight for signs of a leaky supply line.
  • Don’t ignore plumbing issues. Chronic minor leaks you’re putting up with may unexpectedly turn into major incidents that inflict maximum water damage. A dripping pinhole that abruptly expands into a 1/8-inch leak in a water supply line can release hundreds of gallons of water per day into your house. Even the smallest pipe leaks or inconspicuous seepage around joints should be a red flag. Minimize the possibility of extreme water damage by having all leaks resolved by a qualified plumber.


3 Water Damage Prevention Tips

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

water shutoff valveCould learning to live without indoor plumbing prevent home water damage? Actually, not—there’s always the possibility of outdoor floodwaters inundating your house, too. Drastic measures aren’t required to reduce these risks to an acceptable level, however. And, should an incident occur, our qualified water damage recovery professionals are ready to respond, 24/7/365. In the meantime, reducing the odds that you’ll need these services is a doable goal by following proven precautions to prevent home water damage. Here are just three:

  • Know where your main water shutoff valve is and make sure it works. If an indoor pipe ruptures, hundreds of gallons could be discharged as you frantically search for the house shutoff. If the home is built on a concrete slab, the shutoff will be indoors along the main water line, normally near the water heater. If the home has a basement, the shutoff valve is located where the main water line enters the basement—usually, at the front foundation wall. Other locations are also possible, so ask a plumber if you can’t find it. Also, test the valve annually to verify that it operates freely.
  • Maintain the water heater. According to the Institute For Business & Home Safety, the odds that your water heater tank will leak—or rupture entirely and flood the house—begin increasing once the unit exceeds five years old. Fully 75% of water heaters fail before they reach the 12-year mark. Flush sediment from the tank twice a year to reduce internal corrosion. Have the heater inspected by a plumber annually to detect early signs of tank failure.
  • Install a sump pump. If you have a basement, it’s a common source of water damage through chronic seepage and rising ground water. As the lowest point in the home, it’s also a destination for any flooding that occurs anywhere else in the house from any source. A sump pump automatically removes ground water seeping through the foundation. Should indoor events like a ruptured water line occur, the sump pump also protects the basement from flooding.

For more ways to prevent home water damage, talk to a professional at Rytech, Inc.

What to Think About in Order to Prevent Water Damage in Your Home

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

prevent water damageAny step you can take to prevent water damage is probably worth at least 10 steps to fix it once it happens. While some water damage falls into the category of an incident beyond your control–storm flooding or a local river overflowing, for example—others aren’t a matter of bad luck. In some homes, water damage is a calamity just waiting to happen. In others, it’s a slow-motion event that’s ongoing all the time. (more…)