Protecting Your Home From Costly Water Damage

Home ownership requires constant vigilance.  From the foundation to the roof, you need to keep an eye on your home to guard against damage and to protect your investment. Homeowners should be periodically checking many of the same items covered in a Home Inspection.  One of the most common problems that a homeowner needs to watch for is water damage.  It is important to be on the lookout for potential water damage inside as well as outside of your home.  Inside the home, appliances like washing machines dishwashers and water heaters can be the leading cause of water damage.  

You can save yourself a lot of grief and stress if you catch water leaks and damage early. These things don’t heal themselves and ignoring a small leak could cost you a lot of money in repairs. 

Water damage signs can be subtle.  You may notice a ripple in your wall paper, or a hint of a yellow stain on your ceiling.  If you see something like this it is best to investigate as soon as possible.  There are a few places that you should keep your eye on with respect to potential water damage.  The list below will help you to keep on top of any potential problems. 

  • The kitchen has the most potential for water damage to your home. You will want to do periodic inspections of hoses and connections under the sink for leaks. Typically the area under the sink is full of cleaning supplies with areas of potential concern hidden from view. It is well worth taking the time to pull a few articles out from under the sink periodically and doing an inspection of the area. Your dishwasher also poses potential for leaks at water connections and door seals. Check under and around the unit to insure that there are no puddles when your dishwasher is running. Occasionally on home inspections I come across leaks at the door seal that result in water on the floor. Carefully pull your refrigerator out and check to see that there are no signs of leaks at the water line hook up. Dry stains on the floor may be an indication of past leaking. If you find any leaks in the kitchen area, make sure to make proper repairs before they become a big problem.

  • The utility room or service area is another area where occasional inspections can prevent big problems. Check you washing machine hoses and connections for signs of leaking or bulging. A split water hose on a washing machine can pump a lot of water is a short amount of time. Replace hoses if they show any signs of leaking or bulging. A thorough inspection around the water heater to make sure that you’re temperature pressure relief and drain valves are not leaking is worth the time.. Any signs of water from under the water heater will indicate a tank leak. Your furnace also has potential for water leaks. Whole house humidifiers are often not properly maintained and can result in water running into your furnace ducting which will cause the ducts to rust. Lastly, make sure that your condensate lines for the air conditioner and combustion chamber are draining properly. If these lines are plugged, water may accumulate within the furnace chassis, causing rust and potential damage to the furnace electronics. These types of issues are commonly observed during the home inspection process.

  • In the bathroom, we have sinks, tubs, showers and toilets that can leak. Sealants are key in helping to protect against many potential water damage problems. Make sure that the sealant around sinks, tub and shower enclosures in good condition. Also make sure that your shower head, tub spout and faucets are properly sealed. Remove and reseal any areas that have deteriorated or where sealant is missing. Again as with the kitchen, you should check all plumbing under the sinks. Lastly, check the toilet water connection, and make sure the toilet is secure to the floor. A loose toilet can result in a slow leak that will eventually result in rotted floor boards. Wet grout or staining within the vinyl flooring indicate a leak at the toilet flange connection.

  • Once you have performed a thorough inspection of the inside of your home, make sure to give the exterior a full inspection for any potential for water damage. Check the roof, walls, gutters and downspouts for cracks, openings or other areas that may let water into your home. Also check your grading to insure that the soil is sloped away from the foundation.

A careful inspection of your home for signs of potential water damage can save you the time, money and stress that come with having to make major repairs. When you're confident that your property is protected against costly damage, you can sit back and enjoy the comfort of your home.