Preventing Water Damage: Inside your Home

Preventing Water Damage in Your Home


Water leaks can happen anywhere in the house, but they occur most frequently in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry rooms. Whether it’s a slow drip or a sudden burst, water leaks can cause extensive damage to your home and personal belongings.

  • Dishwasher -- Periodically, check under the sink to see if the hose connection to the water supply line is secure and is not leaking. Check around the base of the dishwasher for evidence of leaks. Look for discolored, warped, or soft flooring materials or water damage to nearby cabinets.
  • Refrigerator -- If your refrigerator has an icemaker, check the hose connection to make sure it is securely attached to the water supply line. The wet spot you see on the floor near the refrigerator may be melted ice cubes or it may be a crimped icemaker line about to burst.
  • Sink -- Recaulk around sinks and pay attention to slow-draining pipes. This may indicate a partially blocked drain. Check the pipes under the sink for signs of water leaks.

  • Showers and Bathtubs -- Discoloration or soft areas around floors and walls near showers or bathtubs may be your first indication there is a leak. Check caulking at joints where the walls meet the floor or the bathtub, looking for cracks or mold. If either is found, clean and remove loose material and apply new sealant. If the shower walls or floor are tiled, a leak may develop if there are cracks or missing areas of grout.
  • Sinks -- Check under the sink for signs of leaks from water supply lines or drain pipes.
  • Toilets -- Placing inappropriate objects or too much toilet paper in the bowl can accidentally clog toilets, especially “low-flow” toilets now required in homes. Hanging bowl deodorants are frequently the culprits. These objects can lodge deep in the plumbing system, and can block the line or create an obstruction that grease and other materials can cling to – eventually causing blockage. In addition, some chlorine tablet cleaners may corrode some of the internal components, eventually leading to a leak.
Laundry/Utility Room

  • Washing Machine -- Inspect washing machine hoses regularly for wetness around hose ends and signs of bulging, cracking, or fraying. Replace the hose if a problem is found or every three to five years as part of a proactive maintenance program.
Replacing your washing machine hoses is a fairly simple home repair task. It's as easy as hooking up a hose to a water spigot.

Just shut off the water supply to your washing machine. If there's not a shutoff near your washer, close the main shutoff valve in your house.

Unscrew the old hoses and hook up the new ones.

Make sure you line up the threads and screw the hoses on tightly. When you're done, turn on the water supply and check carefully for leaks.

Washing machine hoses can be purchased at most home repair centers, hardware stores, and plumbing supply outlets. Expect to pay $10 to $20 for a new set of washing machine hoses.

To Reduce The Chances of Failure…
  • Make sure there are at least four inches (or 11 centimeters) between the water connection and the back of the washing machine. This space will help reduce the chances that the hose will kink.
  • Check that hose connections are secure, including the drain hose.
  • Make sure everyone in your household knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it. Shut off water at valves if you will be away from your home for several days or longer.
  • Consider installing or having a professional plumber install a single-handled valve that makes it easier to turn off the water supply to your washing machine.
Water heater -- Most water heaters last 10 to 15 years. Wet spots on the floor or a rusted tank may signal a problem. Hot water heaters should be installed on the lowest level of the home and always located next to a floor drain. If installed above or adjacent to finished spaces, the hot water heater should be placed inside a drain pan with the drain pan piped to the floor drain.

Air conditioning -- At the start of the cooling season, have the A/C system serviced by a qualified contractor. Make sure their service includes inspecting and cleaning the air conditioner condensation pan drain line to keep it free of obstructions. Change the air filters on a regular basis.


Sump pump -- Sump pump systems assist in keeping unwanted water out of your home. Battery-operated back-up sump pumps can offer a degree of protection against power failure or failure of the primary pump. A generator can also be used to power the pump in case of a power failure. Test the sump pump before the start of each wet season to ensure it is in working order. Sump pumps are not intended to last more than 10 years and must have some components replaced or serviced within those 10 years.