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Home improvement by WaterDamageDefense

Tips on Preventing Water Damage

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From warped flooring and mildew to flooded basements and serious structural damage, water damage can devastate a house. Homeowners should invest some time and effort in periodic maintenance to safeguard their homes from this destructive force. Continue reading for our tips on preventing water damage in your house.

Water Heaters

Flooded Basement

To maximize the life expectancy of your water heater, periodically have a plumber do the following:

  • Inspect the anode rod in the water heater and replace if necessary. The anode rod is typically made from zinc, aluminum, or magnesium, and it protects the tank from corrosion. However, once the rod itself becomes corroded, it can no longer protect the tank. By replacing a worn-out anode rod, you can significantly increase your tank's life expectancy.
  • Examine the glass lining inside the tank for spots where water has penetrated the lining, which could cause corrosion of the tank itself and ultimately lead to the tank rupturing.
  • Inspect valves and pipes. Make sure valves work properly, and replace rusty or worn out components.
  • Remove sediment from the tank every 6 months by flushing the water heater. Sediment can prevent the anode rod from functioning and makes it harder for the heater to heat water.

Washing Machines

If possible, install your washing machine in the basement, away from valuable home furnishings. Periodically inspect your machine to look for the following:

  • Valves: Replace any valves that are not working properly. Ideally, install a dual ball lever-operated valve, which will make it easier to turn off the water when you are not home.
  • Hoses: Look for signs of worn-out supply hoses, such as stress cracks, especially in places where the hoses bend sharply. Replace worn hoses or any that are over 5 years old with reinforced steel braided hoses. Tighten any loose hose connections - this is important, as leaks are most common at connection points.


Basement Flooding
  • Stay in the room: It sounds overly simplistic, but one of the best ways to prevent water damage near your toilet is to simply stay in the bathroom until the toilet has finished refilling.
  • When the toilet overflows, turn off the supply valve as quickly as possible.
  • Inspect toilets a couple times per year. Look inside the tank to make sure that the fill and flush valves are working correctly. Make sure the supply line is securely connected and that the supply valve operates smoothly and contains no rust. Take note if the toilet is running between uses, as this can signal that toilet components are beginning to fail. One part that is particularly prone to failure is the flush valve, which can develop leaks. Replace any components that no longer work properly.

Plumbing System

Pay attention to your plumbing system, and stay on the lookout for indicators of potential leaks, including:

  • Water bills that are higher than they should be
  • Signs of moisture in the walls or floors
  • Rust stains in sinks or water that is rust-tinted
  • Pipes that make a "bang" noise, when faucets are turned off
  • Wet soil erosion close to your home's foundation

Additionally, test your water shutoff valve regularly and make sure that everyone in your home knows how to shut off the house's water supply.

Frozen Pipes

If you live in a region that gets cold in the winter, you should take steps to prevent frozen pipes, including:

  • When the temperature is extremely cold, open your faucets slightly to allow them to drip. This reduces pressure inside your pipes. Open cabinet doors under sinks to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes. Warm pipes in your basement, if necessary, with space heaters. Make sure any exposed plumbing, like that in basement ceilings, is well insulated.
  • Keep your thermostat set to 60 degrees or higher, even if no one is home.
  • Remove garden hoses and install a frost-free sillcock.

Water Leaks

Basement Flood Use a water shut off valve to protect your home from water leaks. Early detection is the key to preventing extensive water damage, and it will often mean the difference between cleaning up a small drip or having a large leak destroy your home and belongings.

Basement Flooding

Make sure you have a reliable, well maintained primary sump pump in your sump pit. Additionally, ensure that its pumping capacity is sufficient to handle the water that could potentially enter your basement. Read our tips on determining sump pump capacity If your basement is subject to high water volumes, you could install a standby pump as well, to assist your main pump by engaging when the water level rises to a certain point.

Additionally, take steps to avoid a flooded basement in case you lose power during a heavy storm. If your house loses power, your A/C powered primary pump will not be able to remove the water rising in your basement. However, if you have a battery backup sump pump or water powered sump pump in place, it would automatically switch on to handle the workload in place of your primary pump.

Image sources: johncarljohnson and chrisandbabs

Creative Commons License The Tips on Preventing Water Damage by Water Damage Defense, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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