Saving the House Owner Money by Early Leak Detection

LEAK DETECTION: WHAT EVERY HOMEOWNER NEEDS TO KNOW

The first signs of water damage might seem small, trivial, or not worth the effort but early vigilance can save you hundreds of dollars of damage and loss of your valuables. Early warnings like water stains on the ceilings or a leak under the kitchen sink can lead to real problems like a weakened roof or rotten floorboards. A burst pipe can damage your furniture and other personal possessions, and flooding can very quickly lead to problems with mold. But even minor amounts of water can cause major damage.

Where To Look First: Indoors

KITCHEN

Where is a good place to start when you’re trying to prevent water damage? The kitchen is often the first location to start because of the numerous pipes and appliances using hoses with water flowing.

Sink and Dishwasher: Periodically check for leaks under the sink where the hose connects to the water supply. Look around the base of the dishwasher for evidence of leaks, such as discolored, warped, or soft flooring materials, or water damage to nearby cabinets.

Refrigerator: If your refrigerator has an icemaker, make sure the hose connection is securely attached to the water supply line or that the hose line does not have a hole in it. Hoses must be replaces at lest once or twice a year. Also, a wet spot on the floor may be a sign of a crimped icemaker line about to burst.

Sink: Replace deteriorated caulk around sinks, and check the pipes under the sink for leaks. A slow-draining pipe may indicate a partially blocked drain that needs cleaning.

BATHROOM

The next location to check is the bathroom. This is another frequent culprit of water damage. Here’s what you should examine and address:

Showers And Bathtubs: Remove and replace deteriorated or cracked caulk and grout. Water from a broken supply pipe behind the wall can leak through these damaged sealants, causing stains or soft areas around nearby walls and floors. Leaking drain pipes and shower pan leaks are also common sources of water damage.

Sinks: Check under the sink for leaks from water supply lines or drain pipes.

Toilets: Clogs can result from too much toilet paper or objects such as hanging bowl deodorants. Also, some chlorine tablet cleaners may corrode internal plastic or rubber parts, leading to a leak.

LAUNDRY AND UTILITY ROOMS

There are numerous water hot spots in these areas that are frequent sources of problems.

Washing Machine: Check hoses regularly for bulging, cracking, fraying, and leaks around hose ends. Replace the hose if a problem is found or every 3 to 5 years as part of a proactive maintenance program. To help make sure the hose doesn’t kink, leave at least 4 inches (or 11 centimeters) between the water connection and the back of the washing machine. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s installation instructions carefully.

Water Heater: Most water heaters last 8 to 15 years. Wet spots on the floor or a rusted tank may signal a leak. Water heaters should be installed on the lowest level of the home, next to a floor drain, or inside a drain pan piped to the floor drain.

HVAC: Every spring, have the air conditioning (A/C) system serviced by a qualified contractor. Make sure their service includes inspecting and cleaning the A/C condensation pan drain line. Change the air filters on a regular basis.

Windows and Doors: Replace any damaged caulk around windows or doors- both inside and outside. This needs to be done every few years

Possible Culprits: Outdoors

This will be examined in an upcoming article.

NEW HARDWARE INNOVATIONS THAT HELP PREVENT DAMAGE

To help keep an eye on these or other trouble spots, you may want to consider installing a water leak detection system, especially if you’re frequently away from the house. Leak detection systems can be either active or passive. Along with leak detection systems, individual appliance systems can be installed on specific home appliances.

1. Active Leak Detection Systems

These systems usually generate some type of alarm, but they also perform a function that will stop the water flow. They feature some form of shutoff valve and a means to determine that a leak is occurring. Most devices use moisture sensors to detect a leak. Other systems utilize a flow sensor and a timer to determine that something is leaking and the water needs to be turned off. An active leak detection system can either operate for an individual appliance or it can control a whole property.

2. Passive Leak Detection Systems

These systems, sometimes called water alarms, are intended to alert you to a possible water leak. They generally sound an audible alarm tone; some may also feature a flashing light.

Passive systems are frequently battery-operated, stand-alone units. They are inexpensive and easy to install. Some simply sit on the floor while others may be wall mounted. A moisture sensor is located on the bottom of the unit and activates the alarm when it becomes wet. Battery-operated devices need to be tested regularly, and the batteries should be replaced on a periodic basis.

• Individual Appliance Systems

These systems are installed on a specific appliance and will automatically shut off the water supply in case of a leak. Depending on the type of device, you may be able to install this system without any special tools. However, in some cases, a qualified plumber may be needed.

• Whole-House Systems

These systems feature a shutoff valve installed on the main water supply pipe. When the system detects a leak, it will automatically shut off the entire water supply. If you travel often, this type of system could help you rest assured while you’re away from home.

Whole-house systems typically take between four and six hours to install, and a qualified plumber is normally required.

In summary, leaks may occur that it is not easy to understand the source of the problem especially if it is below your flooring or behind walls. The best assistance can be provided by professional water mitigation experts or a plumber both trained and experienced in water damage. The sooner you contact the experts, the less damage will be incurred.

As you begin to learn about the dangers and prevention pertaining to Fire, Water and Mold damage in your home or business, you will better understand what steps to take to protect your family, employees, pets, personal belongings, business records, equipment, building structure, landscaping and surrounding areas. More importantly, in addition to knowing what steps you can take to aide in prevention, many of these same techniques will help you to mitigate risks in case of an emergency related to fire, water or mold damages should they happen to you. As stated earlier in this series, the more you know about the dangers of Fire, Water and Mold, the better prepared you will be when disaster strikes and in addition to mitigating risks, you may one day help save the life of someone you love as well as yourself, because disaster can strike anyone, anywhere at any time and it is up to you to gain the knowledge to protect your family, home and business and know when to call the professionals who can only respond after the emergency strikes.

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Post time: 05-03-2017