First find the main water supply shut-off valve
First things first, make sure everyone in your home, including children, knows where to find the main water supply shut-off valve.
As soon as you notice that your washing machine, toilet or water heater is leaking, shut off the water supply right away. You can either shut off the valve near the fixture or shut off the main valve in the basement.
Here are the 7 main plumbing fixtures you should check to avoid water damage:
1. Washing machine hoses
Avoid water damage by making sure your washing machine hoses don’t leak:
- Shut off the water supply valves or faucets after each use.
- Inspect hoses at least once a year.
- Replace hoses every 10 years, even if they still appear to be in good condition.
- At the slightest sign of wear (cracking, swelling, corrosion), replace the hoses with high pressure stainless steel braided ones. Rubber washing machine hoses aren’t designed to withstand constant pressure for 20 years and are a common cause of water damage. Water pressure in the hot and cold water hoses causes them to wear down over time. Stainless steel braided hoses are more resistant and less likely to swell or burst under pressure.
Water intake and drainage hoses
Dishwasher water intake and drainage hoses can deteriorate over time and spring small leaks that you might not notice right away.
Leaks can cause mould, so it’s important to regularly inspect the drainage hose under or behind the dishwasher, as well as the hose under the kitchen sink, where the appliance is hooked up.
Dishwasher door gasket
The gasket is the rubber seal around the dishwasher door. It keeps water in the dishwasher from flooding onto the floor, so check it regularly to make sure it’s clean and in good condition. Make a habit of cleaning it to remove any food or dirt that would prevent it from sealing properly. A sponge and a bit of detergent should do the trick.
3. Water heater
Replace your water heater every 12 years or earlier if it shows signs of wear, such as rust or water seepage. This is the best way to prevent water damage and protect your home. Keep in mind that after your water tank reaches a certain age, most insurers won’t cover water leaks. To find out how old your water heater is, check the certification plate for the date of manufacture.
When you replace your water heater, ask your plumber to install a recovery plate under your new tank and hook it up to the floor drain with a drainage hose. That way if there is a leak, the water will drain away.
Consider installing a leak detector (a system that automatically shuts off the water intake valve when a leak is detected).
4. Outdoor faucet
In the fall and before the temperature drops below zero, protect your outdoor faucet and pipes from freezing.
If your home was built recently, it probably has a frost-free faucet. In this case, you just need to make sure you shut off the water supply properly and remove the garden hose from the faucet.
If you have a conventional outdoor faucet, be sure to drain it so it doesn’t burst. Here’s how:
- Turn off the shut-off valve inside the house
- Turn on the outdoor faucet to drain the water
- Turn off the faucet and cover it so it’s protected during the winter
5. Galvanized steel pipes
Galvanized steel pipes were commonly installed in homes built before the 1950s and have a lifespan of 40 to 50 years. If you have these pipes in your home, you should plan on replacing them in the near future.
6. Noisy pipes
Water flowing inside the plumbing carries a certain amount of pressure. When you turn off the faucet, the sudden stopping triggers a shockwave known as ‘‘water hammer”. The characteristically loud noise associated with this phenomenon is indicative of a pressure surge, which can damage the pipes.
Have a plumber install a water hammer arrestor on your pipes. It’s an easy water damage prevention measure.
7. Protect your pipes if you go away in winter
If the power goes out during a severe cold spell, your pipes could freeze and burst. If you’re away for more than a week, ask a friend or relative to stop by once a week to make sure the heating is working properly. If this is not an option, drain the pipes before you leave. Here’s how to do it in 8 easy steps:
- Turn off the main water shut-off valve.
- Turn on all the faucets in the house to drain the water from the pipes.
- Disconnect and drain your dishwasher water supply pipe and tankless water heater and ice maker if you have them.
- Flush the toilet to drain the tank and pour 1 L (4 cups) of plumbing antifreeze into the bowl.
- Pour about 500 ml (2 cups) of plumbing antifreeze into the sink, bathtub and shower drains.
- Pour 1 L (4 cups) of plumbing antifreeze into the bottom of the dishwasher and washing machine.
- Drain your water heater. First, make sure to turn off the power to the heater (to prevent the appliance from running without water). Then, connect one end of the hose to the faucet at the bottom of the water heater and set the other end directly into the floor drain. That way, the water will drain out safely.
- Make sure there is no water left in the washing machine, the dishwasher or in the traps (U or S shaped pipes) underneath your plumbing fixtures (simply unscrew the cap underneath the trap).
If your home has a hot water heating system and you’re not comfortable draining the pipes, hire a plumber to do it.
These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.
In Quebec, Desjardins Insurance refers to Desjardins General Insurance Inc. In Ontario and Alberta, Desjardins Insurance refers to Certas Direct Insurance Company, underwriter of automobile and property insurance.