Tips to Prevent Water Damage

Washing Machines

  • Do not operate the washing machine while the home is unoccupied.
  • Leave a three to four inch gap between the back of the washing machine and the wall to avoid kinking the hose near  the valve connection.
  • Inspect the water supply line hoses every six months. Ensure that the connection to the valve is secure, but avoid over-tightening.
  • Check the hoses for cracks, kinks or blisters, which are most commonly found near the hose connection.

Water Heaters

  • Have a professional plumbing inspection of the anode rod at least once every two years and annually once the warranty has expired. The rod will eventually corrode and leave the tank vulnerable to damage.
  • Remove sediment by flushing the tank every six months. Sediment will build up faster in areas with hard water.

Plumbing Supply and Drainage Systems

  • Visually inspect plumbing pipes annually; look for condensation around the pipes or obvious leaks or corrosion.
  • Pay attention to your water bill. A significant increase could indicate a leak.
  • Call a plumber at the first signs of rust- colored water, backed-up toilets or sinks and cracked or warped flooring.
  • Insulate pipes in attics, basements and exposed exterior pipes to avoid freezing.


  • Proper installation of the icemaker supply line hose is important to avoid water damage.
  • Tightly connect the hose to the valve. Avoid over-tightening.
  • Leave a three to four inch space between the back of the refrigerator and the wall to prevent the hose from crimping.
  • Inspect the hose and valve every six months.


  • Inspect plumbing beneath sinks every six months.
  • Ensure connections are secure and there is no evidence of corrosion on the pipes.
  • Look for kinks in copper or plastic pipes.
  • Inspect the water shut off valve every six months and replace the valve if needed.


  • Consider a professional roof inspection.
  • Request a detailed inspection report that includes the condition of the flashing, roof covering, parapets and drainage system.
  • Repairs are needed if:
    • There are cracked or missing shingles or loose or missing granules.
    • Flashing has deteriorated, particularly around chimneys and vents.
    • Pooling water is present.
  • In areas prone to freezing and heavy snowfall, insulate to prevent heat from entering the attic space.
  • In areas prone to wind and hail, consider an impact-resistant roof covering.


  • Inspect tile and grout every six months, paying attention to loose or cracked tiles and cracked or crumbling grout lines. Repair as needed.
  • Test the shower pan annually:
    • Block the floor drain.
    • Fill the shower stall with approximately one inch of water.
    • Use a pencil to mark the water line.
    • Leave the water standing in the shower pan for eight hours.
    • If the water level decreases, contact a plumbing professional.

Sump Pumps

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for sump pump maintenance. These vary from running the sump pump every two to three months to a yearly cleaning before the rainy season.
  • To inspect a sump pump:
    • Open the lid and remove debris that may be blocking the water inlet screen.
    • Pour approximately five gallons of water into the pump and watch the float valve rise.
    • As the float valve rises, the pump should turn on and the water should discharge through the outlet pipe.
    • Go outside and inspect the outlet pipe.
    • Water should be flowing from the pipe and away from the home.
    • If the sump pump fails to operate during this inspection, contact a plumbing professional.
  • Install a battery backup system.
  • Choose a system with a battery replacement warning.


  • Inspect the flushing mechanism inside the toilet every six months. The fill valve should shut off when the float reaches the proper water level.
  • Replace the flapper or fill valve assembly if you notice intermittent or constant tank refilling when the toilet is not in use.
  • Inspect the supply line every six months and ensure the connection to the value is secure.

Information provided by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).