Water Damages Are A Nightmare For Both The Insurer & Homeowner

A vacant home or an unoccupied home is extremely susceptible to water damage simply because no one is around to check on what is happening in the home.

In the Home Watch Industry, we see a lot of water damage in homes and condominiums.  Everything from an overflowing tub or burst hot water tank from the neighbor above, a leaky water faucet, a pinhole in a water line to the ice maker,  intrusion as the result of wind or storm damage, or even worse– a leaking toilet.  We have seen it all.  Chart 1 shows that water damage (which includes mold damage) was the number two reason for Homeowner losses from 2012 to 2016 second only to Wind and Hail damage.

Homeowners Losses Ranked by Claims Frequency 2012-2016

Though there really isn’t anything you can do to prevent water damage, discovering it early helps mitigate disaster down the line. Here are a few tips on what to look for:

Your pipes are usually out of sight and out of mind because they are hidden in the wall or overhead in the ceiling.  There are generally five types of pipes found in homes:

  • Galvanized pipes
  • Copper pipes
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipes
  • Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride pipes (CPVC)
  • Cross-linked Polyethylene (PEX) pipes

SIGN 1:  For the most part your piping may last the lifetime of your home, but many things break or wear out such as faucets, valves, and pipe connections.  You want to look for and listen for sounds of water, like a running toilet, a dripping noise, or any other sound of moving water as this could be an indication of a leaky pipe.  You should look under your sink at the connections, and at the garbage disposal and hand spray wand for signs of leaks.  Look for water stain and drip marks on the walls and floor of your cabinets.  If you see anything that looks like mold or mildew you very likely have a water leak somewhere.  One of the places that develop the most leaks (more than any other) is the water line to the icemaker in your refrigerator.  People pull the refrigerator out to clean behind it and just shove it back in place without making sure that the water line does bend or break.

SIGN 2:  There are three early warning signs to detect leaks in your walls and ceilings:

  • Peeling paint
  • Blistering or bubbling paint
  • Loose wallpaper or staining of the wallpaper

We all lead busy lives and tend to pay little attention to the details in our homes.  Some early indicators of trouble are things like a structural change of some nature.  For example, you could have a foundation crack and over time water leaks beneath the ceramic tile, the wood flooring or into the carpeting.  Carpeting damage is easy to spot as the carpet will discolor and produce a squishing sound when you walk through it. Ceramic tile grout may get wet and loosen allowing an edge of the tile to rise slightly. This edge may catch the tip of your shoe as you walk over it. A wood floor will cup and warp unevenly causing boards to loosen.

Paint on your walls and ceilings act as a sealant to the sheetrock. When water intrudes, the paint seal weakens and paint blistering or bubbling will occur.  Look for light brown and yellow staining as an early indicator of a water leak.  When sheetrock gets too wet and saturated it will eventually collapse– and all that water that had been held back will dump onto your favorite piece of furniture or grandma’s antique chest.

SIGN 3:  Visible water staining and or mold and mildew.  The thing to remember about water leaks is that water will seek out the lowest point to pool up.  So when you spot a stain or other sign of a water leak, it may not be coming from a place that you would expect.  As a result, water traveling over the surface of the wood, sheetrock or building materials will discolor from particles that it picks up along the way.  Look for yellowish-brown staining in spots away from the water source. This time of staining occurs most often in bathroom and laundry rooms.  

Wet and damp surfaces conducive to mold and mildew growth.  Look for blue, green, grey or black fuzzy lint type surfaces as this could be mold.  Mold grows quickly in dark, damp and wet areas and you may smell a problem before you spot a problem. If you notice a musty smell, you should start looking immediately as you may have a water leak somewhere in your home.

SIGN 4:  Smell a musty odor? If you smell something like an old wet newspaper or cardboard box, you should start looking closely at the location the odor is most potent.  If you notice musty odors right after heavy rains, it could be an indication of a developing foundation problem.  Groundwater rises to the surface and pushes upward on the foundation of your home.  If you encounter a smell and it goes away you should take note of the location, and if the odor returns to the same area you should start to investigate behind walls, above ceilings and below floors looking for possible leaks.

SIGN 5:  Pay attention to your water and sewer bill.  Increases in your water bill over a month or so could be a sign of a leak and/or water damage.  If you have guests, it is normal to see an increase in the water and sewer bill.  If you experience an increase without any guests or for any inexplicable reason, you may have a water leak.  Check for a constantly running toilet and make sure all faucets are shut off and not leaking. Check around your dishwasher and laundry room and any place in the house that has a water connection. 

At Carefree Home Watch our pricing is based on the number of Water Zones located in your home as these are the critical areas that cause water damage.  We check every faucet, sink, tub, shower and drain.  We flush and brush the toilets and run water in sinks and tubs to keep the seals wet.  In the kitchen, we check around the refrigerator, dishwasher and sink for visible signs of water damage, and in the laundry room the washing machine connections and tub.

Carefree can provide you peace of mind that your home is being cared for by someone who has been trained to look for obvious signs of water intrusion. We cannot prevent anything from happening to your home, but with regularly scheduled visits to your home, we can hopefully minimize what could have been just damage turn into a disaster!

Contact us for a free home evaluation.

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