How to Prevent Water Damage to Your Home?
Water damage can be one of the scariest things any household can experience. Whether it be a pipe breaking, a leaky roof, or a flooded basement it is a serious matter.
If not dealt with quickly the effects can be devastating. Whether it be flooring, drywall, or a new electrical system you can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
Water will also create a breeding ground for mold and bacteria which can be another serious and unsightly problem.
Thankfully there are things you can do before it happens to avoid the mess, potential injury, and costly repair bill.
Here are the best ways to avoid water damage to your home.
1. Inspect Your House
Prevention is the first step. The best way to prevent water damage is through regular inspections and maintenance of your home.
Check all pipes
Check all pipes for potential leaks or signs that they may be in the process of corroding away. Also, check areas around pipes for any visible signs of moisture.
Check under sinks
Another key area to check is under sinks which are also prone to leaks and moisture due to the water supply entering there.
Check the roof
Inspect your roof for any signs of cracks, missing or loose shingles, and general deterioration.
If you catch these problems early on they will be far cheaper to repair than if they get out of hand.
It is important to check your roof at least once a year for wear and tear or damage that may lead to water infiltration into the building envelope.
Check gutters and downspouts
Make sure that you have good drainage around the roofline. Gutters, downspouts, and sump pumps are there for a reason so make sure they are clean and unobstructed.
Make sure gutters are clear of sticks and other material that can restrict water flow which reduces the risk of overflow when heavy rains push water into the gutter faster than it can drain away.
Inspect chimney and fireplace
If your home uses a chimney or fireplace have it inspected by a professional to determine its current condition and whether there is any risk of water infiltration that needs to be addressed.
Keep water off your roof
Keeping water off your roof is an important step in avoiding water damage to your home. Prevent water from pooling on your roof by removing snow, leaves, and debris.
If the weather forecast calls for a heavy storm event consider covering your roof with a tarp to prevent damage.
Make sure that the tarp is securely attached to avoid any damage, and be careful working around the roof to prevent any accidents.
Consider installing metal flashing around vulnerable edges like dormers, chimneys, skylights, etc. These will help divert water away from the vulnerable areas of your roof.
Hire someone qualified
If you want to hire someone to inspect your house’s potential for water damage, make sure that they are properly qualified to do the job.
Look for a home inspector or a similar building professional who is qualified to inspect the structure and identify any potential problems.
Here are a few tips to determine that can help you find someone who is qualified to inspect the physical condition of your home.
- Talk to your neighbors to learn who does quality work and is dependable.
- Ask your insurance company if they can recommend someone.
- Ask your local building department for a list of qualified inspectors.
- Check with other professionals you know and trust, like plumbers or electricians, for recommendations.
- Call your local Chamber of Commerce and inquire about their members who engage in water mitigation services, then visit their website to learn more about them.
- Bonus Tip: The Yellow Pages are usually useful for locating knowledgeable professionals in any field.
Inspect Your Windows
Check your windows for signs of wear and tear on the glass, frames, or caulking.
If you find any cracks in the caulking, chips in the glass, or loose frames you will need to get these fixed immediately.
Having windows that are not properly sealed means that water can enter your home through them and cause damage to walls, floors, furniture, etc.
Having windows restored by a professional is one of the easiest ways to avoid costly water damage.
Use water-stripping sealing tape around all window frames, doorframes, and any other openings to your home. It is an inexpensive way to ensure that water stays where it belongs, outside your home!
Bonus Tip: If you have stone or brick windowsills, they need to be maintained by a professional as well since water can cause serious damage if it is not kept in check.
Seal any gaps around the base of your home
Make sure that there are no gaps or cracks around the foundation where water can get in and cause damage.
Check for signs of swelling, cracking, peeling wallpaper, etc., and fix any problems immediately to avoid further issues with water getting into your house.
You can use an inexpensive caulk gun or caulking gun from your local hardware store to seal up any cracks.
Inspect Your Walls and Floors
Walls and floors are often the most obvious signs of water damage. If you find any spots or stains that seem to be caused by water, you will need to pay attention and determine the best course of action.
Be on the lookout for stains that are very dark, black, or blue in color since this might indicate mold growth. If you find any mold growth in your home, you should remove it immediately and seek professional help.
If you cannot identify what is causing the water damage, or if you are not comfortable trying to fix it yourself, be sure to have it assessed by a professional.
2. Inspect Plumbing System
Plumbing failures can lead to serious damage if they are not taken care of in a timely manner.
If you notice any wet spots, low water pressure, or damp areas in your home, you will need to have a plumber come out and inspect the problem.
If your pipes are corroded or leaking, you may need to replace them entirely. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this type of work or aren’t up for the job, your best option is to hire a professional.
Here are the most common reasons for plumbing failures:
If your pipes are older, corroded, or rusty you should have them replaced immediately to avoid any further problems.
Corroded pipes can lead to leaks which in turn can lead to water damage and mold growth.
Pipes don’t leak just because of the corrosion. There may be a whole slew of other reasons for your pipes to leak including:
- Pipe joints are installed improperly.
- The plumbing does not meet current construction standards.
- Insulation wasn’t installed around pipes.
- Water pressure is too high or too low.
- Pipe material isn’t strong enough to withstand the water pressure.
- Temperature changes cause pipes to expand or contract.
- An inexperienced plumber is performing the work.
Obviously, not all of these issues will apply to everyone, but the point is that your plumbing needs to be fully functional or you run the risk of severe water damage if a leak were to happen.
Inspecting your plumbing system high quality may help you fix the problem before it becomes more costly and difficult to fix.
Although pipes may be the reason for your issue, sometimes they are not the actual problem. The root of the problem can be much more different than what you have expected.
A drain is responsible for draining the water from your showers, tub, sinks, etc.
If it is clogged or only partially working you could end up with a backed-up bathtub or sink, which could cause water damage if it isn’t repaired.
A clogged drain is often caused by:
- Hair and soap scum build up around the drain.
- A buildup of gunk on the inside of your pipes.
- A clog in the mainline.
You can use a plunger or snake to clear out any blockages that are causing your drain to clog.
A clogged drain is also a very common cause of flooding. If the blockage continues, you should have a plumber come out and take care of it or consider installing a new drain line.
Leaking Shower Head
A leaking shower head is another very common plumbing issue that results in water damage when it is not repaired in a timely manner.
The good news is that it is usually an easy job to fix this yourself if you know what you’re doing, or it can be fixed by a plumber for you.
Dripping faucets are another common problem that can lead to water damage if they are not taken care of. It may be caused by a worn-out O ring, faulty cartridge, or a number of other issues all of which can be fixed fairly easily if you have the right tools.
3. Regularly inspect your appliances
Appliances that are not properly maintained can cause water damage and mold growth in your home.
If you fail to regularly maintain them you increase the risk of a problem that could cost you a lot of money to deal with.
However, inspecting your appliances may require more than just a quick look. Because appliances are complex systems, and each appliance is different.
Therefore, you should read and follow the maintenance and operating manuals for each appliance.
Also, before doing any type of maintenance or repair on appliances it is very important that you always disconnect the power both on the appliance and at the main breaker.
Here are a few common household appliances that can cause problems and should be inspected on a regular basis:
A clogged washer lint screen is one of the most common causes of high water bills. It can also cause your washer to overflow and create water damage.
Dishwashers can also cause water damage if they are not properly maintained.
Because they are designed to pump out the water they use, any blockages in the water lines will cause your dishwasher not to drain properly.
To make sure that doesn’t happen, you should regularly check the drain hose to make sure it’s tight and free of blockages.
A faulty sealing system is another less likely cause of dishwasher water damage. If the door is not properly sealed, water will leak through and cause a major mess if not addressed immediately.
Refrigerators are another appliance that needs to be regularly inspected. You should check your drip pan regularly to make sure that water isn’t overflowing onto your floor.
You should also check the door seals on your refrigerator to make sure they are in good condition and fit correctly.
If they are worn or loose, there is a chance that cold air could escape from between the gaskets which may cause refrigerator failure.
If your refrigerator has an ice maker or a water dispenser, the line between the refrigerator and the wall should be totally leak-free.
Water heaters can leak for so many reasons including an old tank, too much pressure, faulty temperature and/or pressure relief valve, sediment collection, and more.
You should make a point of having your tank inspected from time to time. You can have a plumber or HVAC technician come out and inspect it for you.
Water heater leaks can be in form of condensation or water dripping from the top or bottom of the heater.
To prevent water heater leaks tighten loose parts, drain and clean the tank every once in a while, check for any sign of rust or corrosion, and make sure that all valves are working properly.
AC units can also cause water damage if they are not properly maintained. Here are a few ways of telling if your AC unit is leaking water:
Any standing water around the outdoor AC unit that is not evaporating quickly may indicate a leak. Look for a drop and if you find one it is most likely from your AC unit.
Full condensate pan
Another sign that your AC unit is leaking water is a full condensate pan. Ideally, you shouldn’t empty out the condensate pan too often.
AC units have many different components including coils, fans, and compressors. If one of them fails it can lead to a system malfunction and a water leak.
Although a musty smell inside your home isn’t always caused by a water leak, it can be a good indicator of understanding there may be a problem.
If you smell any sort of musty or damp odor, there’s a good chance of higher humidity or moisture levels that are causing mold growth.
If the smell is specifically coming near the AC unit, it may indicate a leaking air conditioner. In this case, you should have the unit checked out for any leaks.
4. Install a leak detection system
Leak detection systems are designed to detect leaks as soon as possible. This way you can prevent major water damage and costly repairs. There are a few different types of leak detection systems.
When choosing a leak detection system for your home, you want to make sure that it performs well, is affordable, and fits your home’s needs.
There are many different types of these systems on the market including the ones that offer remote alerts, Wi-Fi alerts, and even push notifications.
However, even a simple one with a sound alarm may be appropriate depending on your home’s layout and budget.
Leak detection systems can also be chosen as active or passive solutions. Passive solutions are affordable and easy to install, but they don’t do anything more than let you know when you have a leak.
The downside to them is that they don’t help prevent leaks from happening in the first place.
On the other hand, active solutions are able to detect a possible leak, inform you of the situation, and shut off the water if it detects a leak before there is significant damage done.
They are more expensive you need to consider the price of installation, and annual maintenance fees, and it can get expensive if you need to invest in one of them.
Passive water leak detection systems can be anywhere from $20 to $100 depending on the type, while active systems can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 or more.
The main areas you want to install leak detection systems are the basement, laundry room, bathrooms, toilets, under the kitchen sink, and near the dishwasher.
Leak detectors typically offer features such as alarm frequencies, detecting range, and sounds to notify you of a water leak.
When shopping for a leak detector, look for a good combination of the following features:
- High and low-level alarms
- Power source & Backup capabilities
- Automatic water shut-off feature
- Remote monitoring on your smartphone or PC.
5. Know where your water shut-off valves are
Main water shut-off valves are a vital part of a home’s function. They are designed to turn off the water going into your home when there is a problem with your plumbing or in case of an emergency such as a fire or flood.
Knowing where this valve is located will help you reduce the risk of flooding and other problems associated with a lack of access to it.
When replacing or installing a new water shut-off valve, ensure that it is close enough to use easily in the event of an emergency.
Plus, keep in mind it should be accessible without having to crawl around on your hands and knees. You should also know how to access the main valves for all other areas connected to your home’s plumbing system.
6. Install a Water Flow Monitoring System
A water flow monitoring system is a protective measure that constantly measures the amount of water that flows through your property.
It is typically installed next to your main water shut-off valve. Using ultrasound technology, it detects water moving through your pipes and sends an alert to your phone or email if there is an issue.
Water flow monitoring systems provide real-time monitoring, which makes it easy for you to spot any problems that may happen while you are away.
The downside is that these systems can be pricey depending on the features offered.
However, they could also come in handy if there’s an emergency situation where water flow has been stopped or restricted to prevent further damage to your home.
7. Track Water Pressure
Changes in water pressure may be early indicators of possible water leaks. A sudden drop in pressure could mean that there is a leak somewhere on your property.
This will help you determine the location of potential problems before they become serious plumbing issues.
It’s important that you regularly check for this type of issue to ensure that your system is working efficiently and that there are no leaks in your plumbing.
8. Install a pressure release valve
A pressure release valve will help with water pressure problems. It allows any excess pressure to escape from the water pipes before it builds up and causes damage.
When you have a pressure release valve installed, it will help reduce the risk of flooding and water damage to your property.
9. Maintain sufficient slope at critical points
The slope on your property is also an important consideration for preventing flooding. Ensure that the ground around your home is sloped in such a way that water drains away from your house and onto the street or lawn.
You may also want to place your appliances at the lowest point of your home to ensure that any water leak or flooding will not cause major damage.
10. Get rid of standing water near your property
Standing water if combined with rains can lead to flooding. Getting rid of any standing water on your property can help reduce the risk of potential problems.
Your property must have proper drainage systems in place to ensure that excess water can easily flow away from the building.
Several strategies you can use are permeable pavers, drainage trenches, and the installation of infiltration basins.
11. Install a sump pump
Sump pumps are a vital part of any home’s function. They pump excess water from your basement away from the building to prevent flooding and further damage.
Sump pumps are typically installed underground in basements or crawlspaces, but their location will depend on how much you want them to pump out.
In some cases, they can be hooked up directly to your sewer line to prevent excess water buildup.
You never know when a natural disaster might strike, so it’s important to take the necessary steps now to protect your home and property.
That way, you can avoid expensive water damage repair costs and prevent further problems from occurring in the future.
12. Track your water bills
It’s important that you regularly check your water bills to ensure that you’re not being charged for an excessive amount of water.
If you notice a sudden increase in the amount of water you are using, there may be a problem with your plumbing system or there could be a leak somewhere on your property.
13. Utilize the right irrigation practices
Irrigation practices play a big role in preventing water damage. You should ensure that your sprinklers are watering to the right areas of your property so that the water doesn’t land on your home or collect in low-lying areas.
However, if your property’s drainage is not planned properly, you may experience an increased risk of flooding and water damage. Because water propagates not only above the ground but below it as well.
Therefore, it is important to plan a proper drainage system to ensure that excess water can easily flow away from the building.
Have a backflow preventer installed on your sprinkler system. This will help reduce the risk of your sprinkler system causing excess water damage to your home.
It’s crucial that you have any damages repaired as soon as possible to avoid further complications, so contact a service provider or contractor immediately if you notice any issues.
Incorporate a backflow preventer into your irrigation system. It will help reduce the risk of your sprinkler system causing any excess damage that might lead to flooding or water damage.
Use a hose nozzle to focus water on your lawn rather than spray it around randomly. This will help reduce the risk of your lawn becoming damaged or excess water accumulating around your property.
14 Monitor Mold Growth
Mold growth is a common cause of water damage in the home. When water leaks and floods your property, it can seep into cracks and other openings and lead to mold growth.
It’s important to regularly check the areas around your home for any signs of mold growth or moisture to ensure that mold doesn’t become an issue for you down the road.
For basements and crawlspaces, use a dehumidifier and/or air conditioner to reduce the moisture in the air that could drive mold growth.
However, this shouldn’t justify the neglect of other water damage prevention methods we have mentioned.
15. Always keep emergency supplies on hand
It never hurts to be prepared for any type of situation. That’s why it’s important to always have an emergency kit, first aid kit, and safety supplies stocked in your home.
This will help you address potential problems before they become major ones that drastically affect your property or even your health. Always have buckets, cloths, towels, and other items on hand to clean up water damage quickly.
Keep safety supplies like flashlights and first aid kits in your home for emergencies. That way you can address any potential problems before they escalate.
16. Turn off faucets if not in use
We have talked a lot about how water damage is commonly caused by plumbing issues, but one of the most common causes of damage is leaving your faucets on when not in use.
When you’re not using your sink or bathtub, be sure to turn off the faucet completely. This will help prevent any unwanted water from flooding your home and causing water damage.
17. Get rid of clutter
Water damage is often caused when water accumulates in tight areas that it can’t flow away from. Because of this, you should carefully manage the items in your home to prevent any excess items from causing blocked pathways.
Anything with the potential to absorb water should be removed or stored elsewhere.
This includes books, papers, towels, and other household items. You should also be sure to remove any boxes or containers that might hold water and cause the accumulation of moisture on your property.
Get rid of anything with the potential to absorb water, such as books and papers, and always store them in a safe place where they can’t collect excessive moisture. Otherwise, you could end up with serious water damage issues.
18. Keep plants away from windowsills
Plants can actually do a lot of good for your home by increasing the oxygen levels in your property and removing toxins from the air.
However, they can also encourage excess moisture to gather on or around your windowsills which can lead to water damage when it’s not dealt with quickly.
19. Always keep an eye on the weather forecast
Heavy downpours and high winds can cause a lot of damage to your property. In fact, many natural disasters that lead to flooding or water damage can be predicted ahead of time.
So keeping an eye on the weather forecast will allow you to quickly respond before anything becomes a major issue so you can prevent any water damage from occurring.
You can monitor weather conditions through apps on your phone, television, or radio.
Check out the video below for more water damage prevention tips.