Recognizing & Preventing Water Damage

Water damage

Common Home Insurance Water Claims and How to Prevent Them 

1. Water Damage From Washing Machine Hoses

Washing machine hoses fail for several reasons, such as:
     • Exposure to rapidly alternating temperatures
     • Installation errors
     • Poor construction
     • Not enough room between the washing machine and the wall behind it
     • Age

How to prevent it
The best way to prevent a home insurance claim of this problem is to inspect your washing machine hoses and replace them before they fail. Washing machine hoses are located directly behind your machine, and they connect to the water supply in the wall. Check the hoses that connect to both your hot and cold water supplies.
Inspecting a washing machine hose is quick and easy. But what should you look for?

Signs of imminent failure in a washing machine hose include:
     • Blisters, bubbles or bulges in the hose
     • Cracking or sharp kinks in the hose
     • Rust on the connections
     • Discoloration on the hose or connections
     • Moisture or drips

If you see signs that your washing machine hose is likely to fail, it’s important to replace it immediately. You should also replace hoses as they age, regardless of whether you see signs of imminent failure. The useful life of a washing machine hose is just five to seven years.
If your hose is older than that, it’s probably time to replace it. A new washing machine hose usually costs less than $10 and can prevent more than $6,000 in damage.

2. Mold and Water Damage From Bathtub and Shower Leaks

How to prevent it
Water damage from showers and tubs usually have just a few sources. Almost all of these leaks are due to leaks in the sealant or grout, or a simple lack of sealant.

There are several places where these issues show up. These are:
     • The grout in the tile surrounding the tub
     • Leaks in the corners of the tile surround
     • The connection where the tile meets the tub or shower pan
     • Leaks in the seal around the drain or drain overflow
     • The valve in the wall
     • Leaks in the hot or cold water feeds
     • Around the shower head or bathtub faucet

If the problem is in an easy-to-see area, you may be able to diagnose and fix the problem yourself. Look for cracks in the caulking around the drains, showerhead and tub faucet. If you see cracks or discoloration in the caulk, this is a likely source of the leak, and these areas will need to be resealed.

If you suspect that the leak is behind the wall, you may want to consult a plumbing professional. We can help you find and fix these leaks. We’ll also help you figure out what type of damage has already been done.

3. Leaking or Overflowing Toilets

Other causes of leaky toilets:
     • The wax ring beneath the toilet fails
     • The flange beneath the toilet is cracked or too low
     • Seals around the valves have failed
     • The toilet itself has cracked

How to prevent it

If your toilet is already leaking, you have a few choices. If the wax ring or the flange is damaged, you may be able to replace them. However, if the toilet itself is damaged, it’s usually easier to replace it than it is to repair it.

There are also some ways to prevent leaks from occurring. The first, and most important, is to inspect your toilet periodically:
     • Inspect the fill, supply and flush valves at least twice a year. Look for leaks or discoloration.
     • Consider replacing older screw-type valves with newer ball valves, which are less likely to leak.
     • Check to see whether the bolts at the base of the toilet need to be tightened.
     • Have a professional inspect your toilet and its valves for leaks.

4. Hot Water Heater Leaks

Signs that a water heater is about to fail are also harder to spot than they are with other appliances. Look for:
     • Water that doesn’t get as hot as it used to
     • A metallic taste to your water
     • Rust on the outside of your water heater
     • Discoloration or mineral buildup on the pipes leading to and from your water heater
     • Crackling sounds while the heater is warming water

How to prevent it
You can prevent water heater leaks and damage with the following tips:
     • If your water heater isn’t already in the garage, consider moving it.
     • Inspect your water heater regularly for signs that it’s about to fail.
     • Put a drip pan beneath your water heater.
     • Replace your water heater when it’s nearing the end of its life. Most water heaters have a lifespan of eight to 12 years.
     • Flush your water heater twice a year to eliminate buildup of sediments inside it.

5. Water Damage From Refrigerator Leaks

Refrigerator leaks can come from:
• A clogged or blocked defrost drain. This is one of the first things to check if you notice water leaking from underneath the refrigerator. Another sign of a clogged drain is ice buildup in the freezer. Clogs in the defrost drain is one of the most common causes of refrigerator leaks. The defrost drain is usually located on the bottom back inside the freezer. Because it’s small, particles of ice and food can block it up easily. If you can see the drain, you may be able to repair this problem yourself. If not, call someone to service it. You’ll prevent water damage to the floor under the refrigerator.

• Water line connections to the ice maker or water dispenser. If your refrigerator has an ice maker or water dispenser, you may notice water leaks. If you suspect that one of these connections is a problem, look for signs of water inside your refrigerator. Water line connections often leak inside the fridge, and these leaks usually happen because of a loose connection, broken seal or damage to the water line itself. Leaks in the line from the water supply should be handled quickly — water will continue leaking even if you’re not using the water dispenser or ice maker.

• Broken or damaged drain pans. This is a less common cause of water damage from the refrigerator, but like a clogged defrost drain, you’ll usually notice a puddle of water underneath or directly in front of the refrigerator first. The drain pan often holds a small amount of water, and it should evaporate quickly. If your drain pan begins to overflow or leak, you have a problem. Check the drain pan for cracks or other signs of damage.

6. Slow Water Damage From a Leaking Sink

How to prevent it
You can often prevent leaks around your sink areas if you:
     • Regularly inspect the area around your sink and beneath your sink for leaks or water damage
     • Make sure connections in the P-trap are tight
     • Replace a leaky faucet as soon as possible
     • If you notice leaks, place a bucket or rags under the sink right away to prevent further damage
     • Get a plumbing check up to look for signs of leaks or water damage

7. Leaks From Your Dishwasher

Repairing a dishwasher is best left to professionals. Because dishwashers use both electricity and water, the risk of electric shocks is much higher than it is with other types of appliances. If you notice leaks underneath your dishwasher, contact a plumber like Mr. Rooter for repairs instead of attempting to do it yourself.
How to prevent it:
     • Look behind the kick plate for water leaks every six months or so
     • Check in the cabinet under the kitchen sink (usually right next to the dishwasher) for leaks from the dishwasher
     • Inspect the dishwasher seal for damage or brittleness

We can do our utmost to maintain our property to the highest degree and to avoid claims – we hope that you found this information helpful! 

Before you leave – do you have your company specific claims emergency number saved into your phone? We’re pretty sure the last thing you’re going to want to do when a catastrophe is happening is track down your insurance policy to find the 24/7 Claim Line. We have a complete list of After Hours Claims Emergency numbers, they are also listed on your policy documents – take the time today to save that information into your phone – you’ll never know when it could come in handy and you’ll sure be happy if you end up needing it!