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TYPES OF WATER LEAKS AND PREVENTING WATER LEAKS
Water leaks are more common than you might think. Between leaky toilet, underground irrigation leaks and more, they can be costly & damaging. Before you dive into the details on how to prevent water leak damage, you’ll first want to understand a bit more about the types of water leaks that you’ll need to watch out for.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
TYPES OF WATER LEAKS – CATASTROPHIC VS. COSTLY?
There are two types of leaks that exist – catastrophic water leaks that ruin home and costly water leaks that drive up water bills.
Catastrophic water leaks happen in homes – more regularly than you’d expect actually. One in fifty-five homes experience a catastrophic water leak each year. Toilet lines burst, pipes freeze, refrigerator tubing cracks – the possibilities are endless. These leaks, on average, cause $8,000 worth of damage to the average home. Regularly, though, they can cause $100,000 of damage or more in an average home.
Imagine if a water leak occurs when you’re away for the weekend – it could easily flood your home, essentially “totaling” it. It doesn’t just mean tens of thousands in damage – it also means that you have to vacate your home for water remediation contractors. Mold removal, sheetrock replacement and more need to take place for you to get back in your home.
The other type of leak that occurs in homes are costly water leaks. It’s estimated that $6 billion dollars and 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted each year due to water leaks both small and large. This amount is approximately the annual use of Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago combined. One leaky toilet can leak 90+ gallons per day, costing $400 per year. An underground irrigation leak can go un-noticed for months, driving up the total bills by thousands. A hose can be left on doing the same. Understanding these types of leaks and watching out for them can save you in the long run!
Read more about the types of water leaks
TYPES OF CATASTROPHIC WATER LEAKS
In general, there are four types of catastrophic water leaks into different types (1) Hot Water Tank Leaks (2) Burst Pipes (3) Toilet Supply Lines (4) Appliance Failures
- Burst Pipes can occur anywhere in your home and are generally caused by freezing temperatures in your home. The result can be catastrophic pipe burst that can occur in the walls. With the freezing spell in Winter 2018, the NorthEast experienced significant damages.
- Toilet Supply Lines can corrode and bust — depending on what floor the toilet is on, there could extreme catastrophic damage as water rushes through the home.
- Appliances like washing machines and dishwashers have supply lines that feed it; many times these are rubber or pex and are prone to bursting.
- Hot Water Tanks fail over time can fail and cause significant damage. This is usally due to a lack of a maintenance and/or replacement of the anode rods. When a hot water tank fails, the first thing that happens is 120 gallons of hot water on your basement floor; then it keeps running.
1. BURST PIPES
If you’ve ever left a liquid in the freezer longer than you meant to, resulting in it bursting out of the cap or breaking the bottle, you’ve illustrated why many pipes burst in the winter months. However, many pipes don’t burst exactly where water stopped to freeze and expand. Instead, this type of blockage causes water pressure downstream, between the faucet and the blockage, to increase.
Most burst pipes are seen when temperatures fall low. The recent cold weather in the Northeast, caused hundred of burst pipes. However, as the freezing point of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, pipe bursts can be seen at temperatures higher than assumed. With 37% of frozen pipe failures occurring in the basement, they have the potential to damage both your wallet and important personal property.
Our founder started Water Hero due to a burst pipe in his home — $100K+ worth of damage in his home, family heirlooms destroyed, potential for mold and more. Burst pipes are no joking matter and the problem is that they can occur anywhere in your home. An extreme risk, especially for second homes or those in cold weather climates.
2. TOILET SUPPLY LINE FAILURE
A toilet supply line leak can be just as dangerous, especially if it occurs in high floor of your home or building as the water will trickle down throughout your home. This type of leak can be caused by multiple issues. If there is a leak between the fittings, it’s likely you’ll need to buy a new supply line. If it’s coming from around the fittings, the solution could be as simple as tightening them. If you do find one, the most important first step in identifying a leak in your toilet supply line is finding exactly where the leak is coming from.
3. APPLIANCE FAILURES
Many appliances leak, including dishwashers, washing machine and even faucets. The most common though are washing machines due to those rubber tubes that have a tendency to faily. Certain leaks can depend on whether you have a top load or front load washer. For top load washers, a leak in the front could mean the overflow tube is blocked or tilted. Clogs in the overflow tube are usually caused by adding too much detergent. For front load washers, a leak underneath the washer could mean the seams on the outer drum have been compromised and it must be replaced. For both washers, if there is a leak in the back, it is likely due to an incorrectly connected drain hose or a blocked drain pipe. It is important to protect against these washing machine leaks since they are fairly common.
4. HOT WATER TANK FAILURE
There are mutliple ways that hot water heaters can leak. If water is spraying or flooding from the pipes, there is likely a leak where the pipes are soldered or a rusted out fitting that is near the hot water tank. If it is leaking from the tank itself, your tank could be corroded and may need replacing.
If water is dripping or pooling from the heater itself, it could potentially be coming from the pressure release valve. This valve is designed to leak water when it senses excess pressure from the pipes. If the valve isn’t faulty, the problem likely stems from the water pressure settings in your home or the temperature being set too high. When dealing with leaks from the hot water tank, it is important to remember that the water that comes out of the heater could be hot enough to scald skin.
A hot water heater can also fail, immediately leaking 120 gallons on your basement floor and continuously leaking on the floor of your basement. Be sure to replace the anode rod regularly and maintain your hot water heater to prevent against these types of leaks.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF COSTLY LEAKS?
Costly leaks drive up water bills and are sometimes are hard to detect. They are silent and only show up on your monthly water bill as a huge cost increase! There are two important types of costly water leaks that you should consider.
- Leaky Toilets occur all the time; and there is a much larger chance that they occur in multi-family buildings. Either a toilet flapper erodes and slowly lets water trickle through or the toilet just gets stuck open, causing leaks like an open faucet.
- Irrigation Leaks typically occur underground and can be hard to notice. A line underground will bust, either being eaten by mites or frozen in the winter due to a bit of water in it. These leaks can destroy your water bill and are hard to find.
1. LEAKY TOILETS
Yes – we can write an entire article on leaky toilets! It is a pretty significant problem – one leaky toilet can leak 90 gals per day and 33,000 gallons per year. And, this is a common problem in the United States and around the world. Open the top of your toilet and you’ll see a rubber flapper that is connected to the flusher, typically by a metal chain. When you flush the toilet, it opens the flapper and then let’s water in the tank go into the toilet – the flush. The flapper closes and then is forced down due to the pressure of the water in the tank as it fills.
Over time, though, these flappers erode, causing water to continuously move from the tank through the toilet and down the drain. Toilet flappers should be replaced every two years and most homeowners I know aren’t aware of this. This is a major reason why 10% of households leak water, according to the EPA
The more common thing that you might notice is a toilet flusher being stuck down. This is similar to leaving a faucet on in your home and can leak much more than 90 gallons per day, driving your water bill through the roof
2. IRRIGATION SYSTEM LEAKS
Leak in your irrigation system can be hassle to deal and extremely challenging to notice. As you know after the meter, either in the yard or after water enters your home, your irrigation system splits off and feeds. It likely goes to multiple sprinklers and turns on based on your sprinkler timers, typically from 5AM to 6AM in the morning.
Many sprinkler systems have old pipes that have been running underground for a long time. Hard water can deposit, rodents can get after and spring a leak in the irrigation system. This can go un-noticed for months on end and drive up your water bill to no end. Irrigation leaks are a key driver of waste and high water bills in the United States.
WHAT THE WATER DAMAGE WILL COST YOU
Water damage is the second most filed claim in the United States. For example, the average claim on residential insurance for a broken pipe is over $10,000. However, the damage can be much greater depending on what you have in the area of your home the leak is in. Within 24 hours, mold begins to grow in still water, which may cause rot in furniture and other items. Aside from immediately detectable leaks, undetected water leaks can add hundreds to your water bill annually.
A basement full of water is an obvious problem, but certain leaks can go undetected causing massive spikes in your water bill. A leak, such as one from an eroded toilet flapper, can cause water to run throughout the day resulting in hundreds of dollars added to your water bill per month.
Not only could a leak cause thousands of dollars in home repairs and replaced appliances, but a water leak could damage irreplaceable property such as photos or other mementos. While you may be able to replace floors, your television, or your washing machine, I’m sure you can think of certain things in your home you simply could not replace if they were to be ruined.
HOW TO PREVENT WATER LEAKS
Doing routine maintenance on your appliances is one way to initially prevent leaks. If you are consistently updating older parts on your hardware or checking for hard to detect leaks, you may be able to prevent one from happening. Monitoring your water bill is also extremely important, as you can find spikes in the charges and determine if there is a leak or if you simply used more water that month. During the winter months especially, knowing your risk for leaks such as from burst frozen pipes can help you detect a leak early on.
However, because large leaks can happen fast and your bill doesn’t come daily or weekly, many times you can be too late at preventing a leak and the damage is already done. While you are not able to monitor your home water supply 24/7, there are tools that will do exactly that for you.
A leak detection system automatically detects an unusual increase in water usage and alert you if you may have a leak. When choosing a system, you have two options: moisture sensors and whole home systems. Read to learn more.
ABOUT LEAK DETECTION SYSTEMS
Moisture sensor automatic water shutoff systems work by leaving discs around your home that, when encountered with moisture, alert you that there may be a leak and/or shutoff your water supply. To truly protect your home, you’d likely need over 10 placed in various areas of your home, such as around toilets, washing machines, and hot water heaters. They also don’t give you water usage information to detect those non-damaging leaks that drive up your water bill.
A whole home leak detection system with automatic water shutoffs detect when water is running continuously for an extended period of time and automatically shutoff your water. For example, if you have an issue like an eroded toilet flapper that runs continuously, this system would detect that and prevent it. This system works with small and large leaks alike and can prevent you from losing hundreds to thousands of dollars in damaged property and water bills. Both systems can also save you from losing irreplaceable personal property before it’s too late.
Reach out to your insurance company to better understand what types of discounts that you can receive from a leak detection system.
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