Risk of Water Damage is Higher Than You Think

Guess what is the most likely cause of loss on your homeowner’s policy? Fire, wind, flood or theft? Nope. The most likely cause of loss is water damage from an interior leak while you’re away.

I’ve seen a lot of this. Yes, it’s covered by insurance, but it’s still subject to your deductible and is a big hassle and mess. The water flowing from a toilet, washing machine hose or ice maker can go on unimpeded for weeks or months destroying floors, carpets, furniture and cabinetry. Then it seeps into walls where it destroys molding, sheetrock and electrical. If it goes on long enough, mold begins to form. Ugh.

And it’s completely preventable. The old school way is to simply turn off your water while you’re away, and turn your water heaters down to vacation mode.

The high-tech way involves water leak detection systems. They involve a little work, but will protect you at all times. Some insurance carriers will provide a discount if you have them, and other carriers require you to have them before they’ll cover your property.

There are three different types:

Auto Turn Off

These systems are the gold standard because they automatically turn off your water and notify you by smart phone if there is a leak. They most commonly use remote sensors, but a few advanced models detect anomalies in your water flow. They are good if your home is remote and/or it’s not easy to send somebody out to the house quick if there is a leak. They are the most expensive ($500-$2,000) and need to be installed by a plumber.

Water Monitors

These systems are pretty good. They detect leaks from remote sensors and notify your smart phone so if you’re away you can get somebody out to the house. They range from $200-$500 and can be self-installed, or they can be conveniently installed by your alarm company.

Sound Alarm

These blast a sound if they detect a leak. I suppose they are better than nothing, but don’t help if you’re away from your house. Some leaks (like behind a washer) can go a long time undetected and create problems like mold, so even a sound alarm would help. They’re inexpensive…around $10 per unit. Still, I really can’t recommend these as a solution because most damage occurs while the homeowner is away.

So what did I do for my own home? I simply told my alarm company to install water monitors. If I’m gone for several weeks I’ll turn off the water, but for shorter trips I’ll leave it on and trust the monitors to alert me. I’ve got little sensors on the floor around the washer, kitchen sink, water heaters and baths. It was easy. And I feel better because I’ve seen what extended period water damage can do. Nobody wants that.

Make it a great day!