Water damage, when allowed to progress, can be irreparable. It may also cost you the expense of having to replace your possessions with a totally new item. A book, for instance, will never be the same after water damage has set in. Even after you are able to dry it, the book’s leaves will be thicker than it originally was, the paper could now be warped, and if the book is made of coated paper some pages may stick together.
Everything in your house – your appliances, your walls, your flooring – is susceptible to water damage. Floods, water leaks, moisture creeping in, clogs – all these could cause water damage to your home. It is therefore important that you do periodic inspections of the places where water damage is likely to happen. Remember, prevention is better and cheaper than trying to repair your house after the damage is done.
Preventing water damage in the kitchen
Periodically treat your kitchen sinks with a drain opener or cleaner in order to remove any clogs, and clean out your disposal drains on a regular basis.
When cleaning your kitchen, don’t forget to clean the floor under the refrigerator as well. Vacuum the refrigerator coils to remove any dust or dirt on it. Besides helping the refrigerator operate more efficiently, this will also bring your electric bill down.
When you replace your dishwater hoses, use new hose washers and clamps, not old ones.
Periodically clean the floor underneath your stove as well, in order to remove any dust, dirt, and food particles trapped there. The stove, being heavy, may be hard to move so try removing the bottom drawer instead using a flashlight to inspect the floor underneath it. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove any dirt underneath the stove.
Inspect your sink and the underside of it periodically, and check to see if there are any drips from the traps or supply lines. Also check for moisture stains on the back wall or near the plumbing penetrations.
Preventing water damage in the bathroom
At least once a month, check the supply lines and drain traps under your bathroom sink to see if here are any signs of leaks. If you notice a leak somewhere, call a plumber to fix it before it gets worse.
Each month, treat all bathroom drains with a drain opener to prevent the buildup of hair and other things that may clog the drain.
Turn on the exhaust fan while you’re showering in order to prevent excess moisture buildup.
Check the basement ceiling under the bathroom for signs of mold or staining. Do the same thing with the basement ceiling under your kitchen and laundry areas.
Preventing water damage in the utility room
If you’ve got a gas tank or furnace in your utility room, consider putting in a carbon monoxide detector. This will help to detect combustion gas problems.
Clean the cooling coils and heat exchanger in your air conditioner regularly. Do the same thing with your heating pump. Accumulation of dust in these areas could affect the performance of your heater and air conditioner. You can clean these by using the soft attachment of your vacuum cleaner. Regular cleaning will also help to prevent the growth of molds in these areas.
Replace your HVAC filters every month. Aside from helping to bring your heating and cooling costs down, this will also reduce the potential of moisture related growth.
Make sure that the ductwork on your heating and cooling equipment is well taped and sealed.
Each time the seasons change, clean your drains, especially if they don’t flow freely. Besides using a drain opener, you can flush your drain with hot water and a few tablespoons of bleach.
Regularly clean the exhaust fans in your kitchen, bathroom, and other rooms. Dirt and debris, as well as bird nests and droppings, can accumulate on the exhaust fan. Be sure to clean from inside and from outside. Put oil on the damper hinges to make sure the damper closes completely.
Check the wall penetrations for your heating and cooling systems and make sure they are well sealed and insulated.
Regularly vacuum and dust your utility room to make sure that there is no mold, mildew or other growth starting.
Drain your water heater tank regularly to remove any sediment that has gathered on the interior floor of the tank.
Preventing water damage in the attic
Check your attic insulation regularly, and add insulation if necessary. Make sure that none of the soffit vents are blocked or covered.
Moisture problems can be seasonal so make routine checks on your attic, especially in the summer and winter.
If you notice any stains in your attic, have them inspected and repaired right away. Attic stains, especially near the vents, are an indication of previous moisture intrusion. Even if the area is currently dry, have a repairman investigate it.
Periodically clean your attic air conditioning drain and remove any dust or debris. Flush the drain with hot water and bleach.
If there are any holes or defects in your soffits or vents, have them repaired promptly. Defects on these, even small ones, could be entry points for squirrels, mice, bats, or snakes, and these animals could do additional damage to your attic besides causing more moisture problems.
Preventing water damage in the basement
Make sure your basement is always dry and clean. Damp basements are attractive to cockroaches, mice and snakes, especially during the hot season.
Periodically test your sump pump, especially if you rarely use it, to make sure that it is working properly. Test it by pouring some water into the sump chamber and then turn the float switch on. Make sure the motor switch turns on and that the pump drains the chamber.
If you use your sump pump often, consider getting a backup pump. Even a small rainstorm can cause extensive damage to your basement if your sump pump fails.
If you’re going to buy a sump pump, don’t wait until the onset of the rainy to do this. Buy one before the rainy season begins, to make sure that it’s not out of stock when you need it.
If the neighborhood or area where you live in is prone to flooding, consider installing a backup power supply system for your pump. This will help to ensure that your pumping system will work when your primary power supply fails.
If you recently made modifications to your landscape and are now experiencing frequent flooding in your basement when it rarely occurred before the modification, this means that your drainage was affected by the landscape changes. Landscape modifications can destroy drainage. Have your landscape regraded or modified so that the water flow will be directed away from your basement and not towards it.
Preventing water damage in the laundry room
Periodically treat your utility sink with a drain opener to prevent clogs.
Dryer hoses work better when the connection to the outdoor vent is in a straight line. If your dryer hose connection is not, consider having it modified to connect in a straight line direction.
Consider using metal dryer vent pipes rather than plastic accordion ones. Metal pipes are more durable and less prone to wear and tear.
If your dryer hose is poorly connected, seal it with hose clamps and metal HVAC tape. This will eliminate excessive moisture and the accumulation of dust. This is only a temporary measure; you should have a plumber or repairman reinstall your dryer hose to make sure it is connected and functioning properly.
Regularly vacuum around and behind the washer and dryer.
Always make sure that your laundry area is clean. Dust and dirt, when combined with moisture, will promote unwanted growth.
Each time you use your dryer, remember to clean out the lint trap.
Preventing water damage outside your home
Good weather seals on your doors and windows will prevent moisture from seeping in every time it rains and during the winter months. Make sure weather seals are not cracked or missing. This will also help to bring your utility bill down.
If your downspout currently releases water too near your foundation walls and a strong rain comes on suddenly, use flexible plastic downspout extensions to direct the water far away from your house. This will protect your foundation walls and prevent water from accumulating near the house.
Check your downspouts, gutters and drainage systems during heavy rains to see which ones are not performing properly.
Preventing water damage on the roof
Periodically check your roof to see if there are any shingles that are cracked or missing. If climbing onto your roof is difficult, use a pair of binoculars so that you see a close-up of the roof from the ground.
Regularly clean the gutters on your roof in order to prevent the accumulation of debris. Don’t wait until the fall to do this, because debris – especially if it is dirt-like and decomposes – could clog your gutter. When your gutter is clogged, winter ice buildup and rainstorm overflows could lead to more serious problems.