Water damage is consistently a common and severe cause of loss to homeowners. It is amazing to see the damage that water can do. Water carved the Grand Canyon – just think what it does to drywall or plaster!
Many potential sources of water damage lurk in the home, but the good news is that risks can be identified and prevented.
Sources of water damage in a typical home include:
- Water line failures that supply washing machines, sinks, toilets, icemakers and wet bars.
- Plumbing or appliance failures to items such as icemakers, washing machines, dishwasher, water softeners or water filtration systems.
- Burst pipes due to freezing, age, lack of maintenance or improper installation.
- Water heater failures and leaks due to corrosion, typically within 8-10 years. They may show no outward signs of a problem prior to failure.
- Overflow of plumbing fixtures
- Faulty construction
While any home can sustain damage from a water leak, the costs are even higher to a luxury home with high-end interior finishes or those containing fine arts, expensive appliances or other valuable articles.
Imagine the scenario if a water supply line to a second-floor bidet fails in such a home:
- Water leaks on and damages the Carrera marble flooring in the bathroom.
- Then water makes its way downstairs, where it destroys the gold leaf-trimmed ceiling support for an antique crystal chandelier.
- It then goes down the wall and damages the Venetian plaster wall covering, chair rails and wainscoting, while also taking out a painting or other fine art along the way.
- It finally makes its way down to the Brazilian walnut hardwood flooring, while also taking out a 16th century Chinese rug.
The potential for water supply line failure is multiplied in a typical high-end home with 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms – do the math:
- 1 hot water line, 1 cold water line, 1 toilet water line = 3 per bathroom
- Multiply that by 4 bathrooms = 12 water supply lines
- If there is a dual sink in the master bathroom, add 2 more
- If there is a bidet in the master bathroom, add 1 more
- Hot- and cold-water lines to the washer and utility sink in the laundry room – add 4 more
- Icemaker lines for refrigerator and wet bar – add 2 more
- Total – 21 water supply lines for a typical 4-bedroom/4-bath home.
- Each water supply line is a potential source of a water loss
And water damage is an equal opportunity offender. Water damage can and does occur in:
- Large and small homes
- Primary and secondary homes
- New homes and old homes
- Historic homes
- All regions of the country
- All seasons – not just winter
While not every water loss can be prevented, many water losses could have been prevented or mitigated if an automatic water shut-off device had been installed in the home. Automatic is bolded for a reason. Automatic water shut-off devices provide the best level of protection from water loss. They require no human interaction – they automatically detect a leak and automatically turn off the water to the home when a leak is detected, preventing further ongoing damage.
Installing an automatic water shut-off device is an example of practicing proactive risk management.
Consider the water damage risks in your home, and arm yourself with knowledge to prevent the hassle and cost that come with a leak. And visit with your local, independent insurance agent for coverage advice.
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Contact your local, independent insurance agent for coverage advice and policy service.