SNEAK UP ON WATER LEAKS
Article by: John Watkins, Nashville Home Inspection, January 2013 Tips
A series of studies performed by the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) predicts the likelihood of leaks from a water heater or shower, helping homeowners avoid at least some of life’s puddles.
According to the IBHS, the chance a water heater will leak or burst begins to dramatically increase when the appliance is five years old. Three-quarters of all water heaters fail before they are twelve years old. In other findings, the Institute reported that homes more than 20 years old are 37% more likely to have a water damage involving a shower.
Water damage is costly if not discovered quickly; with water damage from a toilet overflow ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 per incident. Burst water lines in a washing machine can cause an estimated $6,000 in damages per incident.
Knowing that a leak may be lurking can cause sleepless nights, but there are ways to avoid leaks. In addition, there are also products on the market that can detect a leak if it occurs, and stop the water before serious flooding occurs.
Because of the heavy use of water in the kitchen – for cooking, washing dishes, and making ice – there is always the chance of an overflow or leak in this room. Hoses, such as the connection between the dishwasher or icemaker and the water supply line should be inspected for deterioration or loose fittings. In addition, pipes under the sink can become loose over time, pooling water in a cabinet, or onto the floor. Slow-moving drains are also a signal that pipes need attention.
Bathrooms also deserve special attention because of the amount of water used by showers and toilets. One sign that pipes may be leaking is the presence of staining or soft spots around walls and floors. Drain pipes and shower pans are also prone to leaks and are common sources of water damage. Sinks should be inspected for signs of leakage around water supply lines. Toilet overflows can cause damage in the thousands of dollars. Every family member should know where the supply valve is located and how to turn the water off. The sound of a constantly-running toilet means the flapper or fill valve assembly may need to be replaced.
Because of the large capacity of modern washing machines, a leak can mean serious damage to floors and ceilings. Washing machine hoses should be checked regularly for cracking, fraying or leaks. All hoses should be replaced every three to five years to keep problems from developing. To avoid washing machine hoses from cracking or bursting from a kinked line, there should be at least five inches of space between the water connection and the back of the washing machine.
A number of active and passive leak detection devices are available to consumers, to help detect and prevent water damage. With an active system, a leak generates an alarm, and also prompts the device to stop water flow. Most devices use moisture sensors to detect a leak.
Passive systems, also called “water alarms,” are intended to alert homeowners to a possible water leak with an alarm tone or flashing light. Passive systems are inexpensive and easy to install. A moisture sensor activates an alarm once it becomes wet.
A whole-house detection system will feature a shutoff valve located on the main water supply pipe. When the system detects a leak, it will automatically shut off the entire water supply. This system is often preferred by homeowners who are away from their homes for extended periods of time.
Source: John Watkins, Nashville Home Inspection, January 2013 Tips “Sneak Up on Water Leaks” | Blog distribution provided by In The News blog, Kenneth Bargers and Bargers Solutions, member of Pilkerton Realtors, residential real estate services located in Nashville, Tennessee