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Water damage has a variety of causes: storms, flooding, roof leaks, broken water pipes and lines, leaking washing machines, and more. This can lead to mold and odor problems, and worse. If left unmitigated, water damage can eventually cause structural damage, which can entail significant costs to repair and can negatively affect a home’s value.

Prevention is the first line of defense against water damage. Here are some basics on preventing water damage and its effects:

Water supply lines to and from washing machines and dishwashers should be regularly inspected for cracks and leaks. Both the hoses themselves and the connections should be examined. Even a small leak can cause water damage over time, so it’s best to just replace these hoses every five years or so. If the laundry room is located on the main floor or above, damage to the floor and ceiling below can be especially problematic if a leak or hose failure occurs. Steel-reinforced auto-shutoff hoses are available that sense the pressure change when a leak occurs and will stop the flow of water automatically.

Tank-style water heaters are prone to failure, especially as they age. Over time, the bottom of the tank can rust out and release the entire contents of the tank. Most plumbing codes require an overflow valve that will conduct leaking water to a pipe that drains either to the outside or to an appropriate interior drain. Homeowners should check with a plumber who is familiar with local codes for this type of overflow pipe.

Another common source of water leaks is the icemaker supply line; this should be regularly checked as well. For added peace of mind, homeowners should shut off the icemaker and the supply line if leaving home for more than a few days.

Be aware that pipes slowly leaking inside the walls or ceiling may be impossible to detect visually before damage has already occurred.

Check gutters and downspouts to ensure that water drains freely and flows away from the home’s foundation. Make any adjustments, and check the flow again using water from a garden hose.

Water leak detectors can be installed at floor level near water heaters, washing machines and interior air conditioning units. Simple, inexpensive wireless models are widely available and will sound an alarm when water is detected on the floor near these appliances. These are a good option for homeowners who run these appliances only while they’re at home, which is highly recommended.

Some home inspectors can use moisture detectors to check for damp conditions not visible to the eye. This tool helps detect possible trouble spots in walls, ceilings and floors.

Agents should pass along these tips and they can help homeowners avoid the often expensive and intrusive damage water leaks can cause if not prevented or repaired.

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is committed to ensuring confident homeownership. To learn more about how Pillar To Post Home Inspectors can help your clients, visit