Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This age-old axiom is very applicable when it comes to preventing water damage within your home. Water damage can affect your home’s value, increase costs, and cause a decline in indoor air quality. There are several ways you can prevent water damage by inspecting and maintaining the systems in your home that involve water.
There are three main water-involved systems in your home – piping, washing machine hoses, and water heaters.
It is good to know what type of piping your home has. Different pipe type develop different problems and challenges as they age. At the time of your home purchase if you had a home inspection, the home inspection report will tell you what type of piping your home has. If you don’t have an inspection report, a licensed plumber can do an inspection for you
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides the following plumbing lifespan guidelines.
Brass – 40 to 70 years
Copper – 50+ years
Galvanized Steel – 20 to 50 years
Cast Iron – 75 to 100 years
Polyvinyl Chloride (knows as PVC): Indefinietly
Pipes can be older than the lifespans listed above, and doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be replaced. If well maintained, they may last longer. If poorly maintained, or if you have hard water, then they may fail sooner. With proper care, the majority of pipe materials will last for decades.
Washing Machine Hoses
A broken water supply hose accounts for more than half of water damage insurance claims related to washing machines. These claims can be very costly, with the average claim running more than $6,000. If unattended, a burst washing machine hose can spill hundreds of gallons of water an hour, causing a significant amount of damage in a very short amount of time.
There are various reasons washing machine hoses break, including:
According to a study by the Institute for Business and Home Safety, one of the leading causes of water damage claims in residential properties is water heater malfunctions.
The study also found the following:
• 69 percent of water heater failures were due to leaking or burst tanks.
• The chance of leaking or failure rises steeply in water heaters that are more than five years old.
• Nearly 75 percent of all water heaters fail before they are 12 years old.
• Very few water heaters last longer than 10 to 12 years.
Eventually every water heater will need to be replaced due to weakness developed over time. The useful lifespan of a water heater ranges from about five to ten years, but this depends on how high the mineral content is in your water, the intensity of use, and how well you maintain the water heater. Though you may be put off by the cost of purchasing and installing a new water heater when it seems your current one is working just fine, keep in mind that waiting until after a failure has occurred may cost more as you will then have to deal with the cost of repairing water damage as well.
Justifying Risk of Damage to Your Home
Taking Benjamin Franklin’s advice and spending some time on prevention will save you a lot of time, money, and trouble in the long run.
It’s a good idea to know where the water shut-off valves are in your home so you can easily turn off the water source in the event of a leak or problem. It is recommended that if a problem does occur, immediately remove standing water and all moist materials. Take action to prevent further damage when possible. Acting quickly will help minimize damage which means less time and expense for repairs.
Troy Reeves and the Reeves Team try to share as much information that we come across. We want you to continue to enjoy the home you purchase through us.
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