Nobody wants to walk into their home, or wake up in the middle of the night, and discover that their home has flooded. Unfortunately, this happens to people all the time and can be an absolute nightmare. In many situations, there is not much that a homeowner can do to prevent this water loss event from occurring; however, there are several steps and actions that can be taken to help mitigate the risk of these water escapes from occurring. The following is a non-exhaustive list of some activities that can help prevent water losses in your home:
1. Do not store cleaning chemicals underneath your sinks.
Chemical species in cleaning solutions, such as chlorine, can lead to corrosion of pipes, including stainless steel braided supply lines, and can result in the fracture of the stainless steel braids and, ultimately, the rupture of the internal plastic tubing.
2. Tighten plastic nuts, such as your toilet supply line coupling nut, by hand, not with a tool.
These plastic coupling nuts can develop cracks and fracture if they are overtightened. When using a tool, it is common to apply greater forces than you would if you tightened the plastic nut by hand. In fact, sometimes they will fracture even if they have not been overtightened, though it is more likely if they are tightened too much. Sometimes the fracture of the coupling does not occur until years after it was installed. When these coupling nuts fracture, they will allow water to escape.
3. Inspect and replace your toilet supply lines regularly.
Whether through corrosion of the braids or fracture of the coupling nuts, toilet supply lines are one of the most common sources of water losses in a home. These are relatively cheap components, and it is worthwhile to inspect them regularly and get a new one if you see corrosion of the braids or a crack in the plastic coupling nut. Replace them in general, every five years or so to be safe.
4. Drain your pipes before going away for an extended time, particularly in the winter.
Whether you are closing up a cottage for the winter or leaving your home for a couple of weeks of vacation, it is a good idea to close your main water supply valve and drain your pipes before leaving. If your water supply is open and a leak develops, it could be days or weeks before the leak is discovered, and the amount of water that can flow through a hole in a pipe or a leaking fitting can be significant over that amount of time.
5. Have someone you trust regularly check on your house while you are away for extended periods.
Related to the last point, if you have someone regularly checking on your house when you are gone, this could significantly reduce the amount of water that escapes from a failed pipe or fitting.
6. Do not turn the thermostat in your house down too low when you are away in the winter.
Many people will turn the thermostat setting in their house down when they are away in the winter to save on heating costs. This practice is standard; however, it is important not to reduce the temperature setting too much, as this could lead to local freezing conditions in some regions of your house, mainly when the outside temperatures fall drastically. In these scenarios, the water in your pipes or the fittings can freeze and expand, causing the pipe to rupture or the fittings to separate. When the temperature rises above zero degrees in this area, the ice will thaw, and water will leak from the newly created opening.
7. Have the sacrificial anode of your water heater inspected regularly.
Water heaters have a component called a sacrificial anode which sacrifices itself to prevent the corrosion of the steel tank. This anode will get consumed over time through corrosion, and will eventually be eroded to the point where it can no longer effectively protect your tank itself from corroding. Most water heater manufacturers recommend that you inspect the anode annually. This is something that many homeowners and water heater rental companies neglect, which means that they do not know when the anode stops protecting the tank. This can lead to corrosion of the steel tank and eventually a hole in the tank wall, and subsequently a leak.
8. Turn off the diverter valve on your handheld bidet or diaper sprayer after every use.
Handheld bidets and diaper sprayers are often designed with a handheld sprayer that is connected to a diverter valve using a corrugated hose. The diverter valve itself is connected to the water supply. These hoses are often not designed to be under constant water pressure and will fail or leak under these conditions over extended periods. As such, it is recommended that after every use, you close the diverter valve and spray the water remaining in the bidet hose into the toilet.
9. Make sure that your toilet is not running constantly.
A toilet running constantly is not only a waste of water and an annoying sound, but it can also be a precursor to an overflow event. If a toilet is running constantly, this means that water is continuously flowing into the tank through the fill valve, and out of the tank into the toilet bowl. If these conditions are present, and the toilet becomes clogged, the water flowing from the tank into the bowl will have nowhere to go and the result is an overflow event from the toilet bowl.