Water Damage Awareness Month – How to Stay Protected
Did you know that in 2017 alone, Insurance companies spent $13 billion in water damage claims? The average insurance claim for home water damage was just over $10,000. Since August is Water Damage Awareness month, we’ve decided to shed some light on the numbers behind water damage, what causes water damage, and what you can do to protect your home.
Water Damage by the Numbers
As a homeowner, you might not have water damage at the top of your list of things to watch out and prepare for. But in 2015, water damage made up more than 40% of all homeowners’ insurance claims. According to the Insurance Information Institute, water damage is over three times as likely as all other property damage and over six times as likely as theft.
From sudden, catastrophic incidents like burst pipes and broken water heaters to the more slow, subtle damage from small leaks that build up over time, keeping your home safe from water damage requires monitoring and maintenance. And not all water damage is covered by homeowners’ insurance. Your best defense as a homeowner? Know the causes of water damage — and learn the best ways to keep your home safe.
Causes of Water Damage
With all the pipes, fixtures and appliances at work every day in your home, there are countless reasons for water damage to occur. Here are some of the most common causes of water damage homeowners face:
- Pipe bursts. Pipe bursts are one of the more sudden water damage events. The underlying cause of most pipe bursts is high water pressure. Even pipe bursts that are caused by frozen pipes are largely the result of high water pressure. As ice builds up, the water in your pipes has less room, naturally increasing the overall water pressure in your plumbing network.
- Small leaks. Small leaks are especially nefarious for the sole reason that we usually don’t even know they exist. A worn-out pipe joint or plumbing fixture can leak just a few drops per minute. That water can collect on surfaces, leading to rotting wood and drywall and encouraging the growth of toxic molds.
- Appliance Malfunctions. Even the most high-end appliances don’t last forever. The most common appliance malfunction is broken supply hoses. If you’re around when a supply hose fails, you’ll be able to quickly shut off the water main and clean up the mess. But if a hose breaks while you’re away or asleep, you can have gallons upon gallons of water seeping into your floors and furniture.
- Failing Water Heaters. Water heaters have a life expectancy just like appliances. The thing that sets water heaters apart is that water heater tanks hold several gallons of water at any given time. And with thermal expansion (the increase of water’s volume when it’s heated), there’s constant wear and tear happening to your water heater. A burst water tank can cause massive levels of water damage in basements and garages.
- Roof leaks. Roof leaks are similar to those tiny, undetected leaks we discussed above but they deserve their own special mention here. What sets roof leaks apart from other types of water damage causes is they aren’t part of your home’s plumbing network.
How to Prevent Water Damage
Aside from extreme, catastrophic weather events, most water damage in the home is preventable. And with smart leak detection, our ability to prevent most types of water damage has gotten even better. Here are six things you can do to help keep your home safe from water damage:
- Get to know your water main shutoff valve. Every home has one of these. Depending on your plumbing system, it could be inside your home (typically in the basement or garage) or outside your home, underground. Any time you have a water leak situation, the first thing you want to do is get to the water main and shut it off. It’ll stop the flow of water and minimize the damage while you wait for a plumber to arrive.
- Prepare your home for winter. Winter is prime time for burst pipes and serious water damage. That’s why it’s so important to do some prep work in the fall before the temperatures start dropping. Make sure your pipes are all winterized and properly insulated. Opening your water fixtures just a bit to allow a constant trickle of water will keep things moving in your plumbing system. If you plan on leaving the house for a long period of time, keep the thermostat at a reasonable setting (high 50s or low 60s) to help prevent frozen pipes.
- Replace your appliances before they start breaking down. This is especially true for washing machines. Washing machine hoses can start to fail after around 8 years. Do some research on your appliance models and have a good time frame for when to replace supply hoses. Set a reminder in your calendar app of choice.
- Keep an eye on your water heater and thermal expansion tank. Your water heater has a lifespan just like your appliances. Know when your heater was installed and when you should get it replaced. Most water heaters also have a thermal expansion tank, and most people in the plumbing industry recommend replacing it at the same time you replace your water heater tank. Keep an eye out for dripping water, condensation and changes in pressure.
- Get your roof inspected. Getting your roof inspected should be a standard step in your home maintenance routine. If you have lots of foliage on your property, make sure you have your gutters cleared out twice per year.
- Invest in a smart leak detector. Here at Flo, we know that the best way to prevent water damage is with precise monitoring and detection. Getting a smart leak detector, like the Flo by Moen system, will help you keep tabs on your entire plumbing system. The Flo by Moen device can detect the smallest leaks and slightest changes in water pressure, sending you real-time alerts and even shutting off your water main for you.
Water damage is often unexpected and almost always expensive. We hope you’ll spend some time during Water Damage Awareness Month to learn about what you can do to keep your property safe and keep everything flowing smoothly.