Best Tips to Prevent Water Damage

Rather than think “what if my house burns down” when you pay your next homeowners insurance bill, you probably should fret about a far more common source of loss: damage caused by water.

Better yet, instead of fretting, adopt a simple maintenance routine with your quarterly insurance checks that will keep your property dry.

Travelers Insurance conducted a survey in North Carolina and found 10 times more water damage claims than fire damage claims. What’s more, only 5 percent of the water claims were a result of severe storms or flash floods.

The insurance company reported that water damage claims most often arise from one of four problems.

The Four Most Common Causes of Water Damage

  • Failed fittings or cracked tubing that supply refrigerator ice makers
  • Burst hoses that supply washing machine
  • Clogged drain tubing from central air conditioner condensing units
  • Leaky water heaters

You’re In Good Hands – Your own
The good news is routine inspections and maintenance are easy to perform. Follow these tips and you can prevent most of these unnatural disasters.

Automatic ice maker lines
Check the fittings where supply line connects to the refrigerator and the larger cold water pipe. It should be secure and free of corrosion or cracks. And be careful you don’t yank on the tubing when you pull the refrigerator for seasonal cleaning of the cooling fins. If the supply line is flexible copper or plastic connected to a saddle valve, consider replacing it with a flexible stainless steel icemaker supply line and a proper shut-off valve.

Clothes washer hoses
If your clothes washer has ordinary black rubber hoses, check them annually and replace them every five years. Stainless steel jacketed hoses are far less likely to burst but fittings still should be inspected periodically.

Central air conditioner drains
Bacteria can grow in condensate tubes and cause the drip pan under the condensing unit to back up and overflow rather than drain into the floor drain or outdoors. Flushing the tube with a mild bleach solution will prevent bacteria build-up. You also can attach a wet dry vac to the end of the condensate line and suck out blockages. DIY Vac makes an adapter that reduces an ordinary wet-dry vac hose diameter to fit tightly around the condensate pipe for this approach.

Water heaters
Old tanks corrode, temperature & pressure valves fail to close and various fittings can develop leaks. Flushing the heater and testing the valve annually can identify problems and prevent leaks. For added insurance, water heaters can be installed over pans with hoses that lead to drains to contain leaks.