What can you do?
Insurance adjusters have ranked the most common, yet preventable, homeowners claims. Five of them – that’s half the list – are plumbing related. This is a busy time for everyone and the last thing you need is an unexpected plumbing breakdown. Unless you enjoy the excitement of a flooded laundry room or having a toilet take a one-way trip through the floor, the answer lies in smart preventative maintenance.
Top ten homeowners claims to avoid
1. Burst washing machine hose – Plastic or rubber washing machine hoses eventually leak and even burst. Three bad combinations here: The machine jars and jumps; the lines get hot and cold repeatedly; laundry rooms are typically located in low-traffic areas, meaning it may go unnoticed a while. Damage is often extensive and expensive, which is why it’s ranked #1.
Precaution: Plastic hoses should be replaced at least every three years, and frequently inspected for leaks. Stainless hoses look substantially stronger and in many cases are but there are alos some that are not much better than the “cheapie” model.
2. Slow leaks around tub/shower grout and edges – Grout and caulking decay over time, and cracks can develop. Water seeps into walls and floors little by little, causing tub and shower pans to corrode or to actually sink due to softening wood supports. The problem greatly accelerates as more water intrudes, leading to major repairs in plumbing, carpentry, tile work and more. Insurance rarely covers these expenses.
Precaution: Make sure that all water from the shower or bath stays there. This means securing shower doors and tightly closing curtains. Also, frequently inspect and repair seals. A little time now can save thousands of dollars later. On a preventive maintenance trip.
3. Toilet seal leaks – If your toilet wobbles it could mean that the seal is worn, or that it was improperly installed. Since the seal prevents sewage gases and other wastes from leaking into your home, this is not just a costly repair—it’s a health issue. We’re not talking “maybe” here; sewer gases are a health risk and not to be taken lightly. Get this fixed.
Precaution: Periodically check the base of the toilet for water. If a leak is present, have it repaired immediately.
4. Refrigerator water-supply line leaks – The small water line that goes from your refrigerator—called a capillary line—can easily become kinked. Plastic lines also become brittle from use, which leads to leaks. These leaks are rarely noticed but can cause extensive damage to the walls, floor, and cabinets around the refrigerator.
Precaution: If lines become brittle, replace them as soon as possible. Be sure to check metal lines for crimps or kinks that can cause the line to form a leak.
5. Roof leaks – Weather, age, wear and tear — these conditions adversely affect your roof’s condition. Signs of a leaking roof include spots or stains that appear on the ceiling, or curled, upturned shingles around the edges of your home.
Precaution: Don’t try to stretch the life of your roof past its time. But to ensure a longer life, make sure that gutters are cleaned regularly. Also check for loose or missing shingles, especially after storms with high winds. Home owners insurance does not cover wear and tear. If your roof is leaking because it is old it is your responsibility to maintain and replace the roof as necessary. Most insurance companies in Florida allow up to 15 years on a shingle roof. Tile roofs are generally acceptable up to 20. Many companies now are settling roof claims on a depreciated basis based on the age of the roof.
6. Chimney/fireplace fires – It’s easy to think that starting a fire in the fireplace is as simple as throwing a few longs and matches together and watching it burn. Before your next family weenie roast, you should know that dirty or plugged chimneys regularly cause home fires.
Precaution: Practice fire safety: keep flammable items clear of the fireplace; be sure that children are supervised at all times; keep matches and flame accelerants in a safe, secured place. Before you start a fire, clean any excessive amounts of soot and ashes from the chimney. Also, maintain a regular chimney-cleaning schedule.
7. Hot water tank leaks – When was the last time you thought about your hot water tank? Probably not any time in the recent past unless you had a problem or repair. Since hot water tanks develop leaks and rust as they age, this “out of sight, out of mind” mentality can lead to major home damage. Sometimes, you begin to notice that you run out of hot water more quickly, indicating poor performance or maybe sediment in the tank. Both indicate a service or replacement need.
Precaution: Periodically check for water damage in the flooring around your hot water heater. If your water heater was installed more than five years ago, a qualified technician should check it at least annually. It may only need cleaning and servicing.
8. Electrical cord fires – Do you have a lot of “gadgets” and appliances plugged in throughout your home? Hiding those unseemly cords with throw rugs? Bad idea. Electrical cord fires result primarily from overloaded circuits, cords under throw rugs, and baseboard heaters.
Precaution: Minimize the number of appliances in use or plugged in at the same time. This will keep your circuits operating within their safe capacity. Also, route cords around throw rugs to reduce the likelihood of fire. Make sure all furniture is a safe distance from heaters, and that they are properly ventilated.
9. Unattended cooking or candle fires – Candlelight flickering shadows on the wall is relaxing, beautiful, soothing. Standing on the curb watching the flames flicker throughout your home is, um, something less than calming. Contained fires can become ‘uncontained’ quickly and violently. It’s from one thing: Lack of attention.
Precaution: Be aware of your candles or cooking fires at all times. Is a candle burning too closely to a flammable object? Is it in a non-flammable holder? Periodically monitor all candle and cooking fires and always practice fire safety.
10. Garage door opener theft – You want your home to comfortable, safe, and secure. You may lock your doors, but sly criminals often snatch garage door openers, gaining access to garages and homes.
Precaution: If you’re not parking your car in the garage, take the garage door opener out of the car. This one, simple measure substantially increases your home security. Thieves cannot gain access to your home easily, making break-ins more difficult and therefore less likely.
“Our blogs are for general education and information only and may not represent your unique needs. Coverages will vary. Please contact your insurance agent to verify your specific policy terms and conditions.”