Avoiding water damage

The numbers don’t lie: the American public is getting soaked when it comes to water damage, with 25 percent of homeowner-related insurance property losses involving claims related to water or freezing.

These claims result in an estimated $6.8 billion worth of property damage each year, according to the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). As alarming as these figures are, however, they fail to tell the real story, according to Tim Bowen.

“Damage caused by water is the number one type of property claim that we handle,” said Bowen. “Every day, we see first-hand the effects of water damage. Many of these claims involve appliance failure-when the hoses in a washer, dishwasher, or icemaker grow old and burst. While you can replace a floor or a couch, you can’t replace the lifetime of memories-scrapbooks and pictures-that often get washed away or permanently altered.”

By taking a few precautionary measures, however, that does not have to happen. We offer the following tips to help consumers stay safe:

  • Check all the windows in your household and ensure that the seals are tight. Replace caulk as necessary, to avoid water seepage.
  • Make certain that your tub and shower makes the grade-inspect your shower stall for leaks, and inspect and replace old or brittle caulking. In addition, check your sink and toilet. Water stains around the toilet may be an indication of damage to the rim and tank seals.
  • In the kitchen, regularly examine the icemaker, dishwasher, sinks, and the garbage disposal for leaks. Also, replace these hoses every five years-a small investment that can prevent an expensive accident from occurring.
  • Inspect your washing machine hoses and check for signs of brittleness or corrosion. Experts recommend changing standard rubber hoses to stainless steel reinforced hoses, which will reduce the likelihood of leaks, and guarantee a longer life. Also, consider installing a water supply box to your washer. This type of shut-off valve can come in handy during vacations.
  • Check your hot water heater for leaks and corrosion. Rust is a sign of imminent tank failure.
  • For valuables, keepsakes, and other memorabilia that you do not regularly display, or keep in your cellar, consider plastic storage containers. These containers are relatively inexpensive and can weather the elements better than other alternatives.
  • If you live in an area that is subject to freezing weather, be sure to winterize your exterior faucets.
  • Finally, to prepare for the worst, it’s a good idea to keep careful track of your valuables by creating a homeowner’s inventory. This inventory can be an invaluable resource, in case you ever need to file an insurance claim for repairs.