Water Leaks can cause serious damage.
Most of the serious damage from plumbing water leaks happens when a home is temporarily unoccupied. Maybe the homeowners are on vacation, or the house might be a rental that’s “in between” tenants, or it could be vacant and on the market for sale. Whatever the reason, a house that’s not occupied on a temporary basis has the greatest risk of water leaks damage.
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Why? Well, if a house is going to be vacant for an extended period of time, most owners will turn off the utilities, including shutting off the water. No risk of damage from water leaks in that case. But, if the house is going to be unoccupied for a relatively short time, chances are the water is left on. And that’s when you can have the greatest risk of significant damage from water leaks.
Water leaks can have many causes.
What can happen? Hoses, or supply lines, such as your washing machine hose or the supply lines to your toilets or faucets, that are cracked, split or in poor condition (making a crack or split likely) can give way at any time. If someone is home, the problem is quickly rectified. But, if the house is vacant even for a few days, you’re facing a major flood and major water damage.
Water heaters can also spring leaks. Again, if no one is home to act quickly, the damage can be significant. Another potential problem can be caused by a toilet tank that cracks. This is more rare but does happen at certain times of the year with changes in water temperature: from hot to cold in the fall, or cold to hot in late spring.
You should also be concerned if your home has poly pipe. Poly pipe is notorious for splitting with absolutely no warning, causing major flood damage to your home. Tony equates poly pipe to having a hose strung through your attic, just waiting to burst! If you have poly pipe, consider having it replaced as soon as possible. Poly pipe is a flood waiting to happen! (Remember all those lawsuits?!)
What can you do? Well, (aside from seriously considering replacing that poly piping!) having your plumbing inspected periodically to detect potential problems is always a good idea. If you’re handy, you can do this yourself.
Pay attention to supply lines and shut-off valves – a primary cause of plumbing water leaks.
Make sure all the shut-off valves are working, including (and especially) the main shut off to the house. Take a look at hoses and supply lines and replace any that seem to be in bad condition – showing signs of age like brittleness or bulging which can indicate a crack or split is imminent. Do a visual inspection looking for signs of leaks or water damage not just at shut offs and supply lines, but also check the toilets, faucets, and even the drains. Repair or replace anything that looks questionable. Remember, your insurance most likely won’t cover damage from leaks caused by poor maintenance (see link, below). Having these minor repairs done promptly is well worth the cost.
And, if you’re going to be away for even just a few days, be sure to turn the water off to the house. That is the only way to guarantee you won’t come home to a flood.
Worried about your plants surviving if you turn the water off while you’re gone? You could have a bypass installed. It’s a quick, inexpensive plumbing installation that allows the water to continue to supply your landscape and garden areas, your pool, spa, etc. – anything you don’t want to leave without a water source for any length of time – but also allows you to shut off the water to the house. If you travel frequently or are gone for extended periods of time, a bypass is a worthwhile investment.
Questions? Give us a call! An experienced plumber is always available during business hours to answer your questions.
Stevens Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning
Wondering what your insurance will, and won’t, cover when it comes to water damage? You may find this article interesting. http://www.homeinsurance.org/home-maintenance/how-to-prevent-water-damage/