It’s pretty dramatic to turn on the news and see a raging river that’s brought a flood of water 4 feet deep through someone’s home.
But what doesn’t make the news — and what’s far more likely to happen in your home — is water damage from a pipe, toilet, or some other much more common source.
It’s not something we give much thought to, but here are some practical home maintenance tips for keeping that water where it belongs.
Where are your water shutoffs?
First and foremost, do you know how to shut your water off should a leak occur? Typically, there are shutoff valves, called “stops,” located on each water line at each individual fixture; for example, there’s a stop on the cold water line leading to the toilet, and individual stops on the hot and cold water lines leading to each sink faucet.
There should also be individual stops for the dishwasher and icemaker, as well as larger shutoff valves for the hot and cold water lines at the washing machine, and the cold water line at the water heater.
In addition to the individual stops and valves, there’s a main shutoff, which shuts off the water to the entire house.
It’s very important that these stops and valves are in good working order — especially the main shutoff — and that you and all the family members know where they are. Take a moment to locate the main shutoff valve, and verify that it shuts off all the water to the house. If it doesn’t, have a plumber replace it immediately.
Excessive water pressure also can cause water pipes to leak or even rupture. If you suspect that your home might have too much pressure — typically anything in excess of 80 pounds per square inch (PSI) — have your plumber or water supplier test the pressure and install a pressure regulator.
Hoses and flex lines
One of the most common sources of water leaks in the home are the hoses and flexible copper lines that lead to your dishwasher, refrigerator ice maker, and washing machine.
Plan on checking the fittings on these lines for leaks once a year, and replace your washing machine hoses with reinforced hoses every five to seven years. Maintain 4 or more inches between the back of your washing machine and the hose connection to prevent kinking the hose and creating damage.
Overflowing and leaking toilets
Check the toilet supply stop and water line for leaks, and replace them if necessary. Check around the bottom of the toilet for moisture and also for softness in the floor, both of which can indicate a leaking wax ring (the seal at the bottom of the toilet) that needs to be replaced.