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7 Most Common Causes of Residential Water Damage

water damage

About 40% of all homeowners have experienced a loss from water damage. It can spread contamination, ruin your paint and damage your wood. The good news is that 93% of all water damage could have been prevented with the right knowledge. How can you protect your home from residential water damage? Here are seven ways to prepare.

1. Damaged Pipes

Plumbing systems, especially in older homes, are susceptible to stoppages and damage. To prevent plumbing problems before they start, be on the lookout for cracks, bulges, stains and other signs of moisture on your ceiling or floors. If you spot a leak, it could be a sign that there is damage in other areas as well. Spikes in your water bill could mean you have additional damage to your landscaping, flooring and foundation. Look out for pipes in areas prone to collecting water, such as crawl spaces, cabinets and attics. If you see any signs of water damage, call a plumber right away to avoid larger problems in the future. Be sure to check and insulate your pipes every year before winter begins. Pipes can rupture and freeze within a few hours, soaking your entire house. 

2. Appliances

As appliances get older, their pipes can rust and their hoses can weaken. Dishwasher leaks can leave an unwelcome puddle on your kitchen floor. Common causes include worn gaskets, broken doors and clogged drains. It can cause damage to your tile, electrical wiring and paint. A great way to prevent buildup in your dishwasher is to run a quart of vinegar through the machine each month. You can also scrape and rinse before you load it.

Flooding caused by washing machines is usually caused by leaky hoses. The leak can worsen over time and cause damage to your home. A washing machine valve shutoff kit can prevent the six gallons of water per minute from flooding into your home.

Refrigerators produce a lot of access water that can pool on the bottom of them. Drain lines can also become clogged. If there is a leak in the water supply line that feeds your ice machine, you could come home to a lot of standing water. To prevent your refrigerator from flooding, be sure that it is well insulated. Make sure that you do not move it in and out of its normal position too often, and inspect it regularly for leaks.

3. Clogged Drains

Bathroom and sink drains can become quickly clogged with dirt, grease, hair and other substances. Pipes can break down, and structural damage is common. If drain clogs are not cleared, problems such as disease, sickness and aggravated health conditions could occur. If left unchecked, clogged drains can cause damage to other places in the home. For example, a clogged toilet can back up into your sink. You may even warp the floorboards and wall support. Small screens can help keep unwanted materials from clogging drains. Pouring boiling water down your drain once a month can help dissolve grease, soap scum and other debris before it clogs your pipes.

4. Natural Disasters

Hurricanes, breaking dams and snowstorms can all bring excessive water into your home, causing it to flood. Large amounts of water can’t be absorbed by the land, and may overflow into your home. A flood alarm and warning system can help you protect your home against a natural disaster. If you live in a coastal area, be sure to purchase additional flood insurance. Some folks living in flood-prone areas raise their homes on stilts to prepare for floods. Others install foundation vents or sump pumps. You can also grade your lawn away from the house. Make sure you know where the water main is and shut it off when you leave for an extended period of time. This way, you will not come home to any unwanted surprises.

5. HVAC Units

Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems within your home can cause floods. Be sure to have these systems inspected and cleaned regularly. If you know there is an impending storm, shut off your central air conditioning to prevent damage and risk of electrocution.

6. Sump Pump Problems

If your sump pump stops working, you could have a major flood in your basement. You will then have to deal with mold growth, water removal and bacteria. To keep your sump pump working optimally, always make sure that it is standing upright. Be sure that the vent hole in the discharge pipe is clear. Your outlet pipes should be joined tightly together and drained out at least six feet from your location. If you notice any leaks in your sump pump, call a professional immediately.

7. Structural Damage 

Moisture dripping through your concrete and crawl spaces can lead to mold and rotting. Check your home regularly for these signs. Cleaning your gutters regularly and maintaining your trees and vegetation will keep unwelcome water from damaging your walls and foundation. You can also install flood protection devices, such as an alarm that goes off when it detects moisture. Make sure your home’s water pressure is not too high. If it is, pipes and hoses can fail under the pressure. You can install a water pressure gauge to help you keep it even. A water pressure regulator can help you in homes where the water pressure cannot be controlled.

Preventing Residential Water Damage

Residential water damage can be caused by natural disasters, clogged drains or damaged pipes. With the right precautions, you likely won’t have to worry about water damage for years to come.

For more information on water damage, read our blog today.