Tips to Avoid Leaky or Burst Pipes this Winter
If you think water damage isn’t a real threat for millions of Americans, consider this: water damage caused $9.1 billion in annual homeowner property losses over a three-year period, according to a 2011 ACE Insurance Underwriters study. Despite that, many people don’t worry about protecting their home against water damage because they believe their home is safe so long as it isn’t located on a flood plain.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, flooding grabs the headlines, but the majority of water damage home insurance claims actually come from leaky or burst pipes.
The primary cause for concern is your water heater. Approximately 10 million water heaters were sold in 2009 according to The US Department of Energy. Appliance Magazine estimates that 69 percent of those will develop a slow water leak or a sudden water burst when they reach their life expectancy – anywhere from five to 25 years, depending on the model. An estimated 5 to 7 million water heaters fail ever year, and all failures carry with them the possibility of causing water damage. Experts estimate the average cost for repairs after a water heater fails can exceed $20,000 according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Another common household appliance that has the potential to create significant water damage when it fails is the washing machine. A washing machine’s potential for water spillage does not always come from the machine itself but from the hot and cold-water hoses connected to it. As the machine ages, so too does the risk that a rupture of one of the hoses will cause a major flooding event.
The average cost to repair water damage related to a washing-machine hose rupture is $5,308, according the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.
Finally, homeowners face threats from winter temperatures that can cause water lines to freeze and rupture, spilling water. In fact, frozen and broken water pipes rank No. 2 behind hurricanes in terms of both the number of homes damaged and the amount of claim costs. According to the Insurance Information Network of California, repair costs of around $50,000 due to flooding from frozen and broken water pipes are common.
So what can you do to minimize these potential risks and avoid these catastrophes?
Early detection of flooding or leakage can mean the difference between a simple do-it-yourself clean-up project and an insurance claim amounting to thousands of dollars. Uncontrolled flooding can cause catastrophic damage within minutes or hours; in just the time that you’re away at work an undetected flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage to the interior of a dwelling.
Modern technology, can interrupt the source of flooding or water when a rupture occurs. Inexpensive water sensors placed near the water heater, washing machine or other appliances – like a sink and toilet – alert the system when they sense water. The system then shuts off the water at its source, mitigating any damage.
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