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How to prevent water damage in your home.

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The first signs of water damage might seem trivial: a drip here, a drop there – nothing that can’t be dried with a towel. But 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 mould.

Why take a chance? Learn where your home is most likely to suffer water damage, and what you can do to help prevent it. We spoke to a few handymen and suppliers and compiled the following pointers to assist you:

Finding Possible Culprits:

The 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 discoloured, warped, or soft flooring materials, or water damage to nearby cabinets.

The Refrigerator: If your refrigerator has an icemaker, make sure the hose connection is securely attached to the water supply line. Also, a wet spot on the floor may be a sign of a crimped icemaker line about to burst.

The 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.

The Bathroom Showers and Bathtubs: Remove and replace deteriorated or cracked silicon 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 drainpipes

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.

The Laundry 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 11 centimetres between the water connection and the back of the washing machine. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s installation instructions carefully.

Stopping Indoor Leaks

The quickest way to stop a leak is to turn off your home’s water. Of course it’s not a permanent fix, but turning off the water immediately can give you time to repair the specific problem. Make sure everyone in your household knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.

Outdoors

The Roof: It’s not rocket science: roofs are there to keep your home dry, and if you’ve got water coming inside, your roof is a pretty good place to start. That said, there are a number of different ways for water to get in through your roof, so consider the following points as you conduct the examination.

Keep the roof free from leaves, twigs, and other litter to allow for proper drainage. Clogged gutters can easily lead to poor drainage, which in turn can lead to leaks in both the walls and at the foundation.

Make sure air can flow freely through all roof vents. This will reduce the build-up of heat and moisture and help extend the life of the roof.

Consult a professional on using a preservative or cleaner (depending on the type of roof you have) to help limit the weathering effects of moisture and slow the growth of moulds and mosses.

Replace missing, broken, or cracked tiles.

Check for damage in valley areas of the roof, and around the flashing at chimneys, vents, and other junctions.

Check around your chimneys for roof leaks, especially if you’ve noticed water stains on the ceiling.

From Gutters to the ground

Once you’re off the roof, there are still possible culprits to investigate. Take a look around the foundation of your home; a few simple changes could make all the difference.

Place splash blocks at the end of downspouts to carry water away from the foundation, or add an extra length of downspout if necessary.

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. Replace any damaged putty around windows or doors. Repaint wood siding as needed.

Fill in any low spots next to the house to help water drain away from the foundation.

Hardware That Can Help

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.

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