Whether small or large plumbing leaks, ignoring a water problem can lead to building damage and even health concerns surprisingly quickly. And leaks can be hidden from view. Surfaces may seem dry but underneath carpet or other flooring, as well as inside walls, you could have a growing problem. Damp insulation is ineffective, increasing your heating and cooling bills. Slowly but surely drywall and plaster deteriorate, wood (whether flooring, trim, or structural) warps, splits, and decays. Given enough time concrete weakens and wiring corrodes. You could even end up with major structural damage. And excess moisture from a leak can lead to mold and its accompanying damage and health hazards.
So lets go over some key things you need to know.
Home Insurance Coverage
The first question most people have is “Does my insurance policy cover plumbing leak water damage?” Like most questions involving home insurance coverage, the answer is “yes and no.” Most policies do not cover the actual plumbing or appliance repair itself. Whether home insurance covers resulting water damage depends on the nature of the problem.
The key factor is whether the damage occurred gradually or suddenly. For a burst pipe or water heater the answer is usually yes. In fact, most policies will cover the costs of preventing further damage through professional dry-out services. But if it’s a small leak slowly causing harm the answer is almost always no. The principle is that even though the leak may be non-obvious it’s up to the homeowner to keep up with maintenance and be on the alert for problems.
- Combining several nation-wide studies, the average home wastes 10-15% of their water usage because of neglected or unknown leaks. Most of that is at faucets and toilets where the water goes right down the drain without causing harm. But it’s something to keep in mind.
- Harm from pluming leaks and frozen pipes is the second most common loss submitted to insurance companies.
- Of all water damage reported less than 10% is caused by weather whereas nearly 1/3 is from appliances, and well over 1/2 from plumbing problems.
Small Plumbing Leaks
Some wasters are so small you don’t see any puddles. Just damp areas, often under the sink inside cabinets of vanities. But even these can lead to mold and gradual destruction. Common sources include fixture shutoff valves, water heater valves, and ice-maker lines.
Just because you can’t track down anything doesn’t mean that you don’t have a leak. They can be out in the yard, underneath the floor slab, or within walls. You may observe damp or warm areas, mold or musty odors, or the water heater running more often. If you can hear running water or spraying sounds, that’s a no brainer calling for emergency attention. Or your only clue may be an increase in usage. But the problem is still causing harm, and it might be years before damage becomes obviously visible. A slab leak may seem out of harms way, but can erode the soil under your home and lead to major structural problems.
If you have any suspicions, a quick test using the utility’s water meter (you can find lots of videos online) will tell you if you need to call a leak detection professional.
Homes can be quite literally flooded by a burst pipe or burst water heater, or by a ruptured washing machine or dishwasher hose. If you have your doubts, here’s another number for you. A ruptured clothes washer hose can dump 500 gallons of water each hour into the laundry room and on to the rest of your home. No consider that happening while you’re away for the weekend. That’s why some homeowners install a leak alarm or an automatic water leak detection and shut-off system.
Get Some Answers, Get It Fixed
ASAP Drain Guys & Plumbing employs experienced leak detection experts and backs them up with the latest equipment. We can perform sensitive tests to determine if you indeed have a leak then pinpoint its exact location without any demolition whatsoever. Our plumbers can then fix the problem, including slab leak repairs.