Article by David Selter
When most people think of water damage in a home or business, scenes of area wide flooding showing continuously on 24-hour news channels is likely to come to mind. As a company that performs emergency water damage clean up in Houston Texas, an area that has experienced its share of flood damage, we can tell you from first-hand experience that only a small percentage of the calls we get over time for water removal are related to storms or flooding.
Water Damage from Plumbing Mishaps
It’s true that storm damage losses get more publicity because they happen in bunches and tend to be more severe, but it is much more likely that if you suffer a water damage loss it will be from a plumbing problem. That’s the good news, because there is nothing you can do to prevent storms, and little you can do to prevent storm damage, but there are things you can do to prevent water damage from plumbing problems.
The most severe losses usually occur in a home or business when there is no one there, because the leaking water continues to flow until it is discovered. We encounter situations all the time at businesses where a leak pours out water all night or all weekend before it is discovered. The culprits have included blown fittings on water heaters located above the office areas, automatic coffee machines that malfunction and continue filling and overflowing the pot all night, broken lines to a sink or ice maker, malfunctioning fire sprinkler systems, and even water main breaks in the ceiling of the top floor.
In homes, we also encounter water damage from plumbing problems with supply lines to sinks and toilets, and water heaters blowing out. But other common occurrences in homes are the hot or cold water hose to the washing machine rupturing, dishwashers and washing machines continuing to fill when the float ball malfunctions, toilets that are flushed, stop up and continue to run, and bathtubs that are being filled and are forgotten.
As you can see from all of these examples, the easiest thing you can do to limit or prevent water damage in your home or business is to turn off the main water line when you will be away for an extended time. Some of our busiest days are right after major holidays or popular vacation times when people are returning home. That’s when they discover that water has been leaking for who knows how long. That’s when the damage is severe, and the clean up and repair extensive. How long you are willing to be gone without turning off the water to your home or business depends on how big of a risk you are willing to take.
But even simpler smaller steps can be taken to avoid common water damage situations. For instance, don’t leave your home with the dishwasher or washing machine running, or with a toilet that hasn’t stopped running. Also, if you are going to be gone for more than a day, at least turn off the hot and cold water to your washing machine. That in itself will eliminate a common cause of water damage.
And one last thing, if the water service to your home is ever interrupted, make sure that every faucet and shower that was on when the water went off is turned off. We have seen severe water damage when faucets and showers were inadvertently left on and homeowners were away when the service was restored.