Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink


The headlines show the catastrophic damage which can be caused by a fire of any size.  You may not realize however, that a disproportionate share of all the property loss claims paid by the insurance industry actually are water, not fire related.  Surveys indicate the money paid out by insurance companies for water related losses continues to increase each year and today represents 4 out of every 10 insurance claims. 

While some losses are inevitable, others may be prevented with proper planning and some minor maintenance.  With the average cost of a water losses reaching $5K per incident, it makes sense to address the situation before it occurs, limiting insurance claims and increased premiums. 

Water damages result from a variety of household sources:  Roofs, windows, washing machines, icemakers, dishwashers, bathrooms, exterior hose spigots and other household water fittings. 

Roofs are often the most neglected area of any residence.  Take your own independent survey and you will find that most people do not know the color roof on their own home.    Homeowners realize there is a problem with the roof, when there is an internal water loss to go along with the necessary roof repair that may have been preventable.  

Installing roof shingles on a home does not mean the roof can be totally neglected for the life of the shingle.  The roof accessories, chimneys, pipe boots, flashings, skylights, ridge vents, caulking and shingles all need attention periodically, if for no other reason than to make certain they are all still in place and functioning properly.  All roofs should be inspected every 3 to 5 years.    It is recommended that homeowners hire a professional roofer to periodically perform preventative maintenance as necessary.

Icemakers and washing machines are generally connected to the household water supply by base grade connecting hoses and lines.  These aging hoses break and cause major water damage.  Most times it is the hot water line on the washer that breaks since this line exposed to the expansion and contraction. 

When the washing machine hose breaks it is like a garden hose running wide open inside your home.  Murphy’s Law says the hose always breaks right after the last family member leaves home for the day.  By the time you catch this one, once again you have generated an insurance claim and a mess. 

Leaks from washing machine hoses are easily preventable.  Most hoses today are simple black rubber hoses.  They are the most vulnerable to breakage since the only protection against the water pressure is the rubber and fibers imbedded in the rubber.  If you have this type hose, they should be replaced every few years.  If you have never replaced these hoses, you may want to stop reading now and go check the washer.  In some cases, you can even spot the enlarged section of hose before they burst. 

While the rubber style hose is adequate for most needs, for a few dollars more, you can upgrade to the rubber hose that is encapsulated in a braided stainless steel mesh.  This style hose helps to guard against the inevitable swelling that all hoses will eventually experience.  In either case, if you have not replaced your washer hoses recently, we recommend you do so in the near future.

Icemaker lines come in two flavors; Copper and PVC.  The copper lines are preferred, however, they will leak at the connection point if kinked when moving the refrigerator.  Exercise caution when moving this appliance so as to not pinch the water line.

Most refrigerators today are connected to the household water source with clear PVC supply lines.  These lines over time are prone to developing pinhole leaks that can spray out a fine stream of water which can go unnoticed for a period of time.  These lines, bushings, and connections to both the refrigerator and household valve should be inspected periodically for leaks and deterioration.

The aforementioned represent only a snapshot of the possible sources for water damage, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  By taking preventative action now to address potential water losses, you will most certainly save valuable time and money in the years to come.

Written by Howard Holt

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