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How to Find and Prevent Water Leaks in Your Home

As a homeowner, you’ve got a lot to think about when it comes to protecting your dreams — maintenance, family safety, bills to name a few. You may want to add preventing water damage to that list. From a burst pipe to an overflowing sink or dripping dishwasher, water leaks can happen in many places inside your home.

If you’ve got a leaky basement, you’re probably also aware that water can flow down there from outside your home. By clearly seeing all the various ways that water can make its way into your home, you’ll know what you need to do when you find water in your basement. Take a look at these key tips to help prevent water damage and keep your home dry.


What Causes Water Leaks?

Water leaks can occur from a number of sources both in and outside of your home. Understanding the cause of water leaks can help you be prepared for the unexpected. By carefully inspecting your home’s plumbing and adjusting the runoff grade around your home, there’s a lot you can do to help keep your home watertight.

Clogged drains and gutters

Trapped water in your gutters can cause the wood fascia boards your gutters are mounted on to rot, allowing moisture to enter your house. Additionally, the clogged debris in your gutters can cause water to sit on top of your roof that could lead to roof leakage. Although you might only consider gutter cleaning necessary once or twice a year, your home can really benefit from a monthly gutter cleaningBy doing so, you can avoid water running over the gutters and pooling next to your foundation.

Rain runoff near foundation

Rainwater can pool and saturate the soil near your foundation and could leak through holes or cracks. Keep rainwater flowing away from your home with downspout extensions. Doing so can help water from infiltrating through foundation cracks and getting into your basement.

Sump pump damage

A blocked drain hose or inlet screen on your sump pump can prevent it from working properly and could lead to a basement flood. A key way to prevent expensive water damage is to be sure that your sump pump is operating correctly. Mark your calendar and inspect your sump pump.

Plumbing lines

Broken seals, corrosion and loose water connections in the plumbing can cause water leaks. By checking in frequently with your home’s plumbing lines, you’ll be better able to locate water leak issues as they surface. Many times, the key to preventing water damage is to catch it early where a nominal repair can save from a major expense.

Damaged roof

Broken or missing shingles, cracked flashing and damaged vent booting are all common culprits that can cause your home’s roof to leak. One way that big water damage issues occur to homes is through the roof. By monitoring and replacing the components of your roof, you’ll help to prevent water damage to your roof that can sometimes go unnoticed. Another key way to keep your roof healthy is to manage ice dams by preventing ice buildup during the winter months.

Untamed vegetation and soil

It’s important to look for any roots from trees or plants that could wrap themselves around your exterior pipes causing damage. To prevent water from pooling near your home’s foundation and leaking in, ramp the soil down and away from the house to help with runoff.

Broken appliances

Home appliances keep your home humming along — they’re also the leading cause of in-home water damage. Check and maintain your appliances regularly, especially washing machines and refrigerators.

Pick up Hidden Water Damage coverage

Water can sneak up and cause expensive damage to your home, but here’s the good news: you can be protected. Our Hidden Water Damage coverage is designed to help you when you need it most. Hidden damage from water leaks can bloom mold, mildew and rot wood in the floors, ceilings and walls. This key coverage can really help to protect your savings.

What Smart Home Systems Help Prevent Water Leaks?

It seems almost every day new products and technology are introduced that help us manage our homes. Two useful systems are smart water shutoff valves and smart leak detectors, which can stop water leaks in the home. In addition to being great tech, we reward smart behavior, here at American Family Insurance.

You may qualify for a smart home discount with the installation of a qualifying system and monitoring program. Check in with your agent and learn about how they not only help prevent water damage, they can also help save you money.

Install a smart water main shutoff valve

Did you know that your home is five times more likely to suffer water damage than it is a break-in? Have a plumber help your home go high tech and get a web-enabled smart home shutoff valve installed into your water line after it enters your home.

With it, you’ll be notified when the sensor in the app sends you an alert if unexpected flow occurs while you’re away. You can halt waterflow — and potentially prevent catastrophic water damage — if a pipe should freeze and burst while you’re away. They’re also capable of detecting microleaks, or pinhole drips, that hide between the walls.

Install smart water sensors

These devices sense water leaks before they get out of hand. You’ll get a heads-up if something’s amiss with your kitchen sink, washing machine, refrigerator, water heater, dishwasher, toilet, etc.

Household Water Leak FAQs

If you’ve got questions about water leaks in your home, we’ve got answers for you!

  1. They can get costly. Depending on the extent of the damage, water leaks can cost you anywhere from $450 - $2,500.

  2. When water damage from leaking pipes is sudden and accidental, you’ll usually be covered for that damage — up to your policy’s limit — after filing a claim and meeting your deductible. The good news is that added water damage coverage can help you protect your home from hidden water leaks that more gradually occur over a long period of time — and are out of your sight.

  3. Good question! There are many ways for leaks to happen, but the answer really depends on the source of the leak. Toilets can leak from the water supply tank, or around the wax ring seal at the base, typically. But leaks that occur within the walls can occur over time and may be the product of corrosion or bursting.

  4. Small, pinhole leaks may be halted with the use of a “compound stick,” readily available at local hardware stores. Other leak stopping options are epoxy pastes that are best applied to dry pipes. Once it’s fully cured, you can then turn on your water to the pipe to be sure the leak is fixed, at least on a temporary basis. The only permanent solution to stop a leak is to have a licensed plumber address the part(s) that are causing the leak just to be on the safe side.

  5. If you think you might have a water leak. Try these steps:

    • Verify all faucets and appliances are off
    • Locate your water meter and record the current numbers displaying, down to the decimal
    • Wait an hour or two
    • Read your meter again

    If the two readings aren’t identical, you’ve probably got water leaking somewhere or a source of water is not completely turned off.

Find the Water Leak Damage Insurance Your Home Needs

Navigating water issues in your home may not be easy, but you don’t have to go it alone. Work with your American Family Insurance agent to get your home covered correctly — before you need it. You’ll find real peace of mind knowing that your home’s insured carefully through an insurance company you know and trust.

And, while you're looking into preventing water damage, head to our home maintenance hub for more helpful resources that will help you take care of your home throughout the year.

This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.


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Related Topics: Home DIY