Updated: Apr 21, 2020
This week we are featuring a guest blog from home inspector Tracey Litt, who has inspected over a thousand homes in the Greater Boston area. Water damage due to preventable problems causes delays and incurs costs for both buyers and sellers. Read on to learn how you can stop these problems from ever coming up, and check out Litt Home Inspection for more information.
Every day, as a home inspector, I recommend actions that can be taken to prevent damage from unexpected water leaks, which can be catastrophic. Many of these repairs are inexpensive and can be performed by homeowners themselves. In 2014 I spent one year working as a property loss claims adjuster for a national insurance company and saw hundreds of claims for damages that could have been avoided if these precautions had been taken.
Replace rubber hoses.
The simplest and most inexpensive of these is to replace your rubber washing machine hoses with braided stainless steel hoses. Rubber hoses come free with your washing machine, but are not designed to be kept under pressure. If you do not turn off the water to the washing machine between washes, which most people do not, the hoses are under pressure and are acting as a pipe. Over time the rubber expands and eventually the hose will burst. Braided stainless steel hoses can range from $20-$40 and should be replaced every five years or according to manufacturer’s specifications.
Use washer pans on upper floors.
In addition to upgraded hoses, any washing machine located on an upper floor or in or near a finished space should have a washer pan underneath it. This pan should have a drain plumbed into it to prevent flooding should the washing machine overflow. If it is not possible to install a drain, the pan should have a float cut-off mechanism installed. These mechanisms are designed to cut-off the water supply to the washing machine should the float in the pan detect water, limiting the amount of water overflow. The parts, including the pan, can be purchased for under $200. Additional fees would include labor costs to install.
Prevent flooding from water heaters near finished rooms.
Similarly, any water heater that is located in or near a finished space should also have a pan and float cut-off mechanism designed to detect the presence of water under the water heater and automatically shut-off the cold water supply and power source to the water heater. Consult a local plumber for pricing, as costs can vary.
Replace old water heaters.
Furthermore, regarding water heaters, water heaters should be replaced when nearing the end of their warranty. Water heaters either start to drip or can burst, causing catastrophic flooding. Many water heater tanks today only have a 6 year warranty and most people do not notice that their water heater is many years out of warranty, and has surpassed its serviceable life, until the worst has happened. Water heater replacement costs can vary widely depending on type. Consult a local plumber for pricing.
Forced Air AC? Catch that condensation.
Lastly, I have processed many claims involving condensation leaks from air handlers in forced air systems. Many systems have only a single condensate drain for the AC coil. If this one drain clogs or leaks there is no secondary safety measure in place. Condensation will begin to drip onto the ceiling below. There should be a pan installed under all air handlers located in attics or finished spaces. The pan should have a secondary drain and/or a float cut-off switch installed to cut off the system in the event that the pan fills with water. An HVAC technician should be consulted for evaluation and pricing.
Bring out the inner home inspector in you and use this blog to check out the potential problem areas in your home. Preventing water damage eliminates both headaches and excessive costs!