Flood damage is a common problem for many homeowners. There are a few simple precautions you can take to minimize the chance of water damage in your home.
Common causes of floods are burst water pipes, especially from the hoses to your washing machine. If you have rubber hoses, it is a good idea to change these out every five years or change to metal flex hoses.
Also, check your hot water tank at least once a year. If you notice signs of rusting around the base, it could be a good time to have it replaced. At least monitor it regularly. It is a good idea to have a pan under the tank to catch water in case of a leak.
Pipes under the kitchen sink and under bathroom vanities are less likely to burst but often leak, which can damage the cabinet and also lead to mold, so it is a good idea to check these annually too. Turn on the hot water and let it run for a couple of minutes which will cause the pipes to expand. Then check for any leaks.
The air conditioner can be another source of water leaks, but not usually a flood. In warm climates like Florida, algae tends to grow in the drain pipe, clogging it up. Your air conditioner should have a safety float switch which will turn the unit off if the water does not drain. These are not 100% reliable and many people put a drain pan under the air handler in case of leaks. Other remedies are pouring a little bleach in the pipe each month or using a wet vac to suck out the pipe.
If you have polybutylene pipes in your home, you need to be extra alert. These are gray plastic pipes that were installed in many homes built from the late 1970s to about 1992. This is a common cause of flood damage. They are not always obvious as they usually have copper connections through the wall. You may be able to check by climbing into the attic.
A final preventative measure, especially if the washer or hot water tank are on the second floor or if you live in a condo is to place a leak detector on the floor where there is concern about possible leaks. These can be bought for about $30.
I hope these tips will help prevent flood damage from happening in your home.