Ironically, other than fire, water is probably the greatest source of damage to most homes. Even when you are home, it’s possible for a water leak to go undetected for a period of time. When you are out of the house, a water leak can be catastrophic in terms of the damage to your home, or even cause damage to your neighbor’s. There are, however, some simple steps you can take to prevent common sources of water leaks. Even though you may not completely eliminate the hazard, you can significantly reduce the probability.
Turn Off the Water-
This may seem obvious, but it’s not as straightforward as most homeowners think. You should consider turning off your entire water supply to the house when you’re away. If you leave the water service on, a faulty pipe or faucet in the house can leak or burst, and it would have an endless supply of water flowing through that rupture. Turning off the water supply is not practical to do every day, but should be a consideration when you leave for a vacation or any other extended period of time.
Turn Off the Water at Angle Stops-
If it’s not possible for you to turn off the entire house’s water supply, you can still turn off the water to individual faucets and other sources. Under your sink, there should be a knob where the water comes in from the wall to your faucet. This is known as an angle stop, and you can shut off the water to that specific location. It’s also not a bad idea to do this with your washing machine if you only use it once a week. Open the water when you need to use the washer and the rest of the week, you can close the water supply to the machine.
Install Water Detection Devices-
There are now devices that you can install which will detect water on the floor. For example, you can have these installed in a basement or laundry room. Many of them are connected to the water supply and can shut off the water when a leak is detected. Others are designed to send a signal to an alarm monitoring company that can send someone to your home in the same way they would if there was an intruder. Your insurance company may also provide a discount if you install the device.
Turn Off Appliances-
You might think you’re being efficient by running your dishwasher and washing machine while you are out running errands. Unfortunately, these appliances can cycle through a significant amount of water. A leak during the cycle can cause a serious leak that will have caused a great deal of damage by the time you get home.
Don’t Allow the Pipes to Freeze-
If your home is in a cold climate, you should leave the thermostat at a low temperature, but one that is still warm enough to keep your pipes from freezing and bursting. The damage from a burst pipe is a terrible thing to return home to from a winter ski trip in Colorado, Utah, New Hampshire, Vermont or New Mexico.
Close Doors and Windows-
When leaving your home, make sure you shut your doors, windows, and any other means through which water can enter your house. An unexpected rainstorm compounded by wind can cause extensive damage. Windows in areas that are not regularly used can be particularly worrisome, such as if you have a window or vent in your basement or attic because you may easily forget it’s open. For this reason, remember to really close all the doors and windows in your home.