Here are 5 Things Homeowners Should Know About Water Pipes
On average, homeowners are diligent about having insurance policies to cover their health, damages from floods, fires, and appliance malfunctions – all because they know how costs can quickly become expensive. But what many homeowners don’t anticipate are expenses from water and sewer pipe repairs. Did you know that pipe clogs, breaks, and leaks are some of the most common repairs to a home and will continue to be as more homes’ pipes age?
According to the Watermain Break Clock, there are over 850 pipe breaks per day, incurring billions of dollars for their repairs, with as much as 90% of lost water being due to pipe corrosion. Add to that that homeowners are usually responsible for the repairs to the pipes on their property – and NOT the water company or local municipality, and insurance policies don’t cover the cost of repairs to pipes or water damage unless they are caused by breaks or sudden damage. And even with coverage, damages can cause your policy rates to increase. Therefore, being unprepared as a homeowner can prove to be a costly mistake.
To stay ahead of the game, here are 5 things every homeowner should know about water pipes, so you can save some money and protect your home from further damage:
- Pipes last between 40 and 50 years. Most pipes today are made from galvanized steel, copper, or brass. While lead pipes were first used for plumbing and water lines in the 1900’s and can last up to 100 years, they contain multiple health hazards; clay pipes corrode, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) doesn’t corrode but is highly prone to breakage. Knowing how old your pipes are and what they are made from will help you assess the nature of their repairs ahead of time.
- Tree roots can easily clog up pipes. If you have mature trees on your property, it is likely that they will cause damage to water or sewer pipes in their attempt to seek out water, oxygen, and nutrients they need to thrive. Clay pipes are particularly at an increased risk from root damage.
- Extreme temperatures can cause pipe breaks and leaks. Even if there is a difference in 10 degrees, pipes are sensitive to the temperatures and become damaged. In the case of frozen pipes, they generally occur within 48 hours after the frigid temps, since water takes about that long to freeze compared to the air.
- Clay soil is the most corrosive to pipes. Sandy soil is least corrosive, but clay soil builds up immediately, leading to breaks and leaks in a matter of time.
- Sluggish drains are warning signs you don’t want to ignore. Over time, kitchen and bathroom sinks and toilets can clog or be slow to drain, and when that happens, they can lead to sudden repairs that can end up costing you a whole lot more than you bargained for. By early detection and fixes, you can actually end up saving over 10% on your water bill.
Ways to Prevent Damaged Pipes
Alter your daily routines to further benefit your home and decrease pipe repair costs with these handy tips:
- Only run your dishwasher when you are at home. A busted hose during the wash cycle is one of the most common appliance issues, and can quickly lead to flooding if left unattended. While damages from the dishwasher’s hose can be covered in homeowners’ insurance policies, the repairs won’t be. If you might be out of the home for an extended time, and are concerned about possible leaks for any reason, you can shut off the water supply under the sink for extra peace of mind.
- Inspect and replace your washing machine hose on a regular basis. Hoses last about 5 years, and if there is a sudden break in the hose, you can be looking at a significant loss of water in a very short period of time, which in turn means very costly damages! A stronger hose and the installation of an alarm with a shut-off valve can be crucial to preventing and/or minimizing any damages. Water damage will be covered under insurance policies, but not repairs to the washing machine or hose.
- If you have a leaking toilet, it is cheaper to replace it than to repair it. Water damages from a leaking toilet are covered by insurance, but the costs to repair the toilet are not, and it is often cheaper to just go ahead and replace the toilet itself if there are cracks or leaks in the tank. If the water supply line is the problem, you can replace it with a metal-braided line instead for long-lasting results.
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