Although water is essential for life and is needed for a number of tasks in our homes, damage claims related to water are estimated to run into billions of dollars per annum.
With some forethought and preventative maintenance, most water leaks and damage to homes can be prevented.
Here are 25 tips to help you mitigate or prevent excessive water damage to your property.
Let’s begin with the exterior:
1 – Drainage
If you don’t have adequate drainage routing water away from your home, you could run into some nasty troubles like:
Pooling under your home
Cracks in walls and floor
Settling of the foundation on one side
All of these can cause serious headaches and cost a lot to repair. So, to do some drainage work, get your tools out and get to work out there.
Make sure that soil closer to the home is compacted and tapers down, away from the base of the exterior walls for about 6-10 feet.
Keep checking that water runs away.
If you find water running under your foundation, make plans immediately to put a stop to it, even if it means digging a trench in the location and building a concrete channel to lead the water away, do it.
The purpose of gutters is to direct water to downpipes and the downpipes are normally placed in areas where the water can easily run 5-8 feet away from the exterior walls.
The problem is, if the gutters are not frequently cleaned out, leaves, twigs, seeds, feathers, and other items collect and clog the path for water to run to the downpipes.
When the gutters are blocked, water flows over the sides, and if the sides happen to be above exterior walls, and sidings made of wood, that water is going to seep into the siding.
Overflowing water like that will also make its way down to the foundation if drainage is not properly taken care of beforehand.
Cleaning gutters is a simple task than can be done in less than one hour. Take the time to schedule it on your regular gardening chores.
3 - Roof Inspection
Your first line of defense against rain and sun is your roof. Just as you would normally take care of the gutters, take some time to get up there and inspect it for:
Actually, inspect for anything depending on your roof type. Where you find a problem, take remedial action immediately.
You don’t want a leaking roof that could cause mold in your ceiling and in turn put the health of your family at risk.
4 – Trees & Shrubs
Before you plant trees and shrubs, first find out where your water, sewage and drainage pipes are. Then, research the types of plants you want to have in your garden.
Each plant is different,
Some have deep root systems
Some have root systems that spread both horizontally and vertically
Some spread just under the surface of the soil, without a deep taproot
Others only run along the top of the soil
Be selective about the type of plant you choose, choose based on their root system.
Plants are constantly searching for water and nutrients, so, if they are planted on top of or near a source of both, their roots will find a way to tap into the source.
Sometimes this can cause damaged pipes or cracked and blocked drainage systems, which can then back-up to the home and cause water damage.
Keep larger plants or trees at least 20 feet from any drainage pipe or water source and smaller plants about 10 feet away.
5 - Irrigation Systems
Are your sprinkler systems close to your home? Make sure they aren’t letting water pool near or under your foundation. If they’re spraying onto exterior walls, make sure they’re not saturating them.
Check pipes and connections for leaks and fix these immediately.
If you live in an area prone to freezing temperatures, then make sure to detach the pipes and let any remaining water run out, then store them indoors to prevent the water from freezing and damaging the pipes.
6 – Cracks
Settling and weather are always going to cause cracking of foundations. Just plug the cracks when you see them.
If you don’t cover the cracks, you’re likely to end up with water making its way into the crack and if it freezes, thaws and re-freezes, it’s sure to expand the size of the crack very quickly.
Use caulk (fine concrete) to fill in the cracks. Just make sure to clean them out properly beforehand.
7 – Appliances
You’ve no doubt, got one or two appliances that use water in one way or another.
Check any pipes and connections frequently to ensure there aren’t any leaks.
Inspect and maintain at least once every quarter. Replace plastic pipes every 5 years because they tend to get brittle, crack and break open unexpectedly.
8 – Floor pans
If you don’t have the funds to buy new pipes every so often, you could find some floor pans to put under your appliances.
They aren’t going to prevent a serious leak from doing damage, but, they can catch small leaks and allow you to get rid of the excess liquids.
9 – Refrigerator
If your refrigerator has an ice or cold pater producing function, you’ve probably got a water connection. Make sure the connection doesn’t leak and check the pipes for cracks or signs of damage at least quarterly.
10 – Geysers
Geysers, stuck in the ceiling aren’t inspected often enough. Make a concerted effort to get into the ceiling and at least do a random inspection from a distance using a trustworthy torch.
If you notice excessive overflow or any signs of rust, get someone out to come and service the geyser, or make plans to convert to an on-demand system.
11 – Boilers
Similar to geysers. They’re often stuck in the basement and forgotten about as long as the heat is on.
Get down there and make sure there aren’t any leaks contributing to the humidity levels in the basement.
Check for rust, and if you find any take remedial action right away.
12 – Air Conditioners
Condensation from air conditioners often causes a lot of problems. Make sure that your aircon drains outwards, and that wherever it drains to, the resulting water droplets are directed away from exterior walls and the foundation.
13 – Attic
The attic is one place we often neglect because it isn’t often a living space. However, if you have a roof leak, it could go undetected for a long time.
Mold can set in and cause even more problems. So make sure to go inspect every inch of your attic to make sure that there aren’t any leaks from the roof and that you don’t see any wet or damp areas.
The first thing to do is de-clutter and take action the moment you spot water in any form.
14 – Faucet seals
As long as we’re opening and closing faucets, we’re wearing out the seals that stop the water flow.
If you’ve got a dripping tap, it can cause substantial addition to your monthly water bill.
Replace water seals as soon as leaks are detected.
15 – Windows and Doors
Rain enters your home through cracks and any openings it can find. If there are spaces between your window frames and door jambs, you’re risking excess water entering your home.
Check the seals at least once a year and replace any sealant that may have been dislodged.
16 – Sump Pump in Basement
The sump pump is there to expel any water collecting or water that’s moved to your basement. Make sure all hose attachments are properly sealed and that there are no visible signs of damage.
If you find any damaged hoses, consider replacing them. Also remember, hoses age and they become brittle. Consider replacing all hoses at least once every 5 years.
17 – Baths, Basins, and Showers
Water is constantly running through the outlet pipes in these places. Make sure that the pipes are securely fastened.
Be cautious about what you put into these items, some may cause blockages, which can cause a backup and further problems.
A good practice is to keep any hair, solids or sanitary items out of them.
18 – Toilets
The pipe that carries water and solids away from the home, is attached to the back of the toilet. With age, it may start leaking.
Get a plumber to solve any leaks for you as soon as possible.
Keep sanitary pads and any other sanitary related items out of the toilet. Try not to use too much toilet paper, because this can block the sewage system and cause a backup.
19 – Interior pipes
Most of us have pipes in our homes. If not insulated, condensation may form on them and drip somewhere.
If that’s the case in your home, get them insulated. Check any connections to appliances or hoses frequently to makes sure there aren’t any leaks.
20 – Drain Snake or plunger
Blockages do happen.
Instead of pouring copious amounts of harsh chemicals down the drains, (Chemicals that are going to damage the pipes and possibly cause leaks themselves), consider getting yourself a drain snake or a plunger.
Both tools are cost-effective and are great for clearing blockages.
21 – Monitor your Bill
If you have a sudden increase in your water bill, then you probably have a water leak and need to quickly investigate.
Fix the problems quickly to prevent a recurrence.
22 – Check Water Pressure
The water pressure coming into your home should be pretty constant. If you’re monitoring it frequently, you’ll notice the fluctuations and will understand them over time.
A drastic drop in pressure is a sure sign of a leak.
23 – Water Flow Monitoring
Flow monitoring can tell you how many liters you can expect your water pressure to deliver in one hour.
If the flow rate drops significantly, you know there’s a problem worth investigating.
24 – Leak detection Alarms
Don’t want to constantly inspect your appliances, pipes, and drains? Consider leak detection alarms. They’re cheap and can be placed in any areas where you’re susceptible to water damage.
Working similarly to fire and smoke detectors, they’ll sound an alarm if the water is detected.
All you need to do is replace the batteries.
25 – Shut off when vacationing
Our last point is self-explanatory. If you’re going away for any period of time and leaving your home unattended, switch of the water supply.
Make sure to also check that you properly close all windows and seal them tight. Remove any standing water in the home.
Empty out the refrigerator, make sure there’s no water left in any pipes like the washing machine, kitchen sink, etc, etc. (Stagnant water will stink pretty quickly)
Hopefully, these tips will help you mitigate or prevent water damage in your home.
Have you got any tips or ideas to share?