Water can damage a home numerous ways and causes millions of dollars in losses every year. Whether or not you have home insurance, it’s a good policy to inspect the plumbing in your home on occasion. The average cost of a claim has risen dramatically in the last few years, which increases the need to check your plumbing system regularly.
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Why Plumbing Maintenance is Important
Homeowner’s insurance generally covers household water damage if the damage is sudden and accidental, such as damage caused by burst pipes. It does not cover damage of the sort covered by flood insurance, i.e., rising water from outside; or damage caused over time by lack of maintenance.
A water damage claim can be a red flag to insurers as well as to future home buyers, signaling a likelihood of repeat water claims. It is better to maintain a home for water issues than face the risks of increased insurance costs and reduced home marketability.
Identifying Water Problems
Look at your water bill. By comparing monthly usage figures, you may get tipped off to a small leak before it becomes a big problem. Major, unexplained fluctuations in your water bill are often a sign of water leaks.
Use a water pressure gauge to determine whether your household water pressure is set too high. The ideal household water pressure is 60-80 pounds per square inch (psi), but many homes are set at 100 or higher. Attach the gauge to an outdoor faucet and turn the water on full to determine water pressure.
Inspect pipes and fittings each year. Just as you change the batteries in your smoke detector each year, you should take a few minutes to inspect under sinks and around washing machines, lavatories, ice makers and water softeners.
The washing machine supply box shown is found in most recently constructed homes. The box sits inside the drywall and the angle stops are inside the box.
The water to the washing machine should always be turned off when the machine is not in use. The instruction manuals for some washing machines call for the water to be on only when the machine is in use. Leaving the water on places the washing machine hoses and valves under constant pressure. The life of the washing machine hose can be prolonged if the water is turned on only when the machine is in use.
Washing machine hoses need to be checked regularly and replaced periodically. Most failures occur at the coupling. Either type should be used in accordance with the washing machine manufacturer’s recommendations. Always change hoses when a new machine is purchased, or when you move. Regardless of the material the hose is made of, it needs to be checked and changed regularly. A broken washing machine supply line can cause extensive damage if it is not discovered quickly and the water turned off.
Know where your water shutoff valve is located and be sure that the entire family knows how to shut off household water supplies in the event of a sudden pipe or hose break.
Inspect your plumbing annually. Just as you change the batteries in your household smoke detectors each year, you should inspect your water pipes and fittings annually. This is a simple check that takes minutes, and could prevent thousands of dollars in water damage.
Inspect around your water heater, washer, dishwasher, sinks, lavatories and refrigerator ice-maker. If hoses indicate wear, replace them. Consider replacing hoses to major appliances such as your washer and dishwasher every two to five years. Steel, so-called “no burst” hoses have been shown to have a longer lifespan than other models.
When you go on vacation, turn off the water to your washer while you’re out of town. Many homeowners have returned from vacation to find their washer hoses have burst, flooding their homes.
Never leave the house with appliances, such as dishwashers, washers or dyers, still running. If you need to hire a plumber click here for information on the questions to ask.