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How to Stop Water Damage Before It Starts

Water damage and mildew

17 Strategies for Preventing Home Water Damage

Water is a necessary part of life, but when it accidentally discharges inside your home, it can wreak havoc. Thus, it’s crucial to remain diligently proactive about preventing it from happening in the first place. 

In this article, I’ll list my top recommendations in no particular order, as well as how you can learn more if you have additional questions. 

1. Unclog your gutters – Gutters are designed to funnel water away from your home, so when they become clogged with leaves, pine needles, and other debris, blockages can occur. The resulting standing water can cause all kinds of expensive problems, including flooded basements, foundation issues, soffit and fascia damage, mold and pest accumulation, and roof damage.

2. Make sure your downspouts are in good condition – Like with your gutters, you’ll want to ensure your downspouts are clog-free and that water flows through them unimpeded. You’ll also want to verify that each downspout has a 90-degree elbow at the end, with an extension that reaches at least two feet away from your home. Otherwise, water can slowly seep into your home’s foundation and wreak havoc. 

3. Know the location of your water main – It’s always a good idea to know where your main water valve is located so that you can quickly shut it off in the event of a leak or other water emergency. This will allow you to shut off your water if you’re going to be away from your house for an extended time, such as a vacation.

4. Test your sump pump – Your sump pump is like a boat’s bilge pump in that its job is to remove water from an area where it doesn’t belong (i.e., your home). Make sure to test your sump pump at least once per year by pouring water from a bucket into the surrounding pit. Make sure it’s connected to a GFCI outlet, the circuit breaker is in good condition and functioning. Consider adding a battery backup or upgrading to a pump with a water-powered backup.  

5. Upgrade appliance hoses – Replace appliance hoses with steel-braided versions (ideally) once every five years. 

6. Check appliance health – While replacing hoses, it’s good to make sure that your appliances are in good working condition and don’t have any leaks.

7. Upgrade your home’s plumbing – If you live in an older home that features copper or galvanized pipes, it’s good to upgrade to PEX as you complete various projects inside your walls. These older materials tend to develop pinhole leaks and fail at their joints, whereas PEX will last meaningfully longer while preventing unnecessary leaks. 

8. Consider installing smart tech sensors – These devices alert you if your home springs a leak. There are currently two main types:

  • Point of loss – Only detects a leak where it’s placed, ideal for apartment and home renters and condo owners. Low-cost and easy to install. Battery-operated. Weatherproof, so can be installed outside or inside. 
  • Whole-home – Monitors water usage throughout your entire home, and also shuts off the water if a leak is detected. Ideal for homeowners, business owners, frequent travelers. It needs to be professionally installed by cutting into the pipe, and requires a permanent power source. Inside only.

9. Check your water pressure – Most residential plumbing is designed to accommodate water pressure ranging between 40 and 70 PSI. If yours is higher, you can prevent excessive wear and tear on your system by installing a pressure regulator.

10. Watch your water bill – If you notice a sudden spike in your water bill, this could indicate that a leak has already occurred. However, by carefully monitoring what you pay each month, you could help catch leaks early and prevent even more expensive damage. 

11. Keep an eye on vegetation – If you live in a newer home, pay careful attention to where you plant shrubs and trees. As these plants grow, their increasingly thirsty roots can wrap around and penetrate pipes. 

12. Disconnect exterior water hoses – During colder months, standing water inside a garden hose can freeze, not just the hose itself, but can actually ‘move’ back into the pipe, freeze the water inside your plumbing, and create backups. As a result, it’s always a good idea to get in the habit of disconnecting garden hoses after each use, regardless of the temperature. 

13. Repair caulking – Polyurethane caulking typically helps prevent water intrusion around your home’s windows and doors for 10 to 20 years. If you live in an older home and notice areas where the caulk is cracked or missing, grab a caulking gun and a fresh tube to ensure they’re completely sealed. 

14. Grade your lot – If the land surrounding your home declines toward any structures, this is where water will accumulate and eventually infiltrate your foundation. If you notice any areas that commonly pool water after it rains, re-grade it so that it inclines away from your home. 

15. Inspect your roof – Your roof must be in good condition and impenetrable by water. Inspect that shingles aren’t missing and are in good shape. Remove any plant matter, such as moss or mold, and other miscellaneous debris, such as leaves and tree branches. 

16. Don’t forget your chimney – Your chimney is the largest opening in your roof. While you’re inspecting your shingles, it’s also wise to make sure your chimney is capped correctly, has sufficient flashing between it and the roof, and is free from mortar cracks.  

17.Inspect plumbing under sinks – Visually inspect the exposed plumbing underneath your bathroom and kitchen sinks to ensure there are no small leaks. Ensure the o-rings around all p-traps are appropriately tensioned.  

How Can You Learn More About Protecting Your Home Against Water Damage? 

As your most significant investment, the recommendations above can help prevent water losses from occurring and reduce the resulting damage when one does happen. How can you decide if your homeowner’s policy provides sufficient coverage for different water damage scenarios, though?  

Related: How Much Water Backup Coverage Do I Need?

This is where the professional staff at IHS Insurance Group’s decades of combined experience comes in! 

Need a FREE Quote or have questions regarding Water Coverage? We have three convenient ways to reach us:  

  1. If you prefer to talk to a licensed agent directly, please call (866) 480 5063.  
  2. If you prefer to fill out a quick form and have an agent get back with you at your convenience, use the GET A FREE QUOTE.  
  3. Lastly, for those that want an immediate quote, please click HERE.  

We look forward to speaking with you today!

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