Most homeowners don’t recognize the risk that lies within plain sight within their home or condo – water supply lines. An average four-bedroom, three-bath home can contain 15 or more water supply lines; however, checks of the condition of these lines are not normally included as part of a home’s regularly scheduled maintenance.
A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) found that:
- Plumbing supply system failures are the leading source of residential water losses, with 48% greater losses (in terms of total dollar value) than the second leading source
- Two out of every three plumbing supply failure losses analyzed in the study occurred when the supply system material failed
One of the reasons that these failures can be so damaging is that the supply lines found in bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, kitchens and wet bars are connected to a pressurized water supply. When failures occur, devastating damage can occur in a short amount of time as large amounts of water can be released unabated into your home for hours or even days. Even small amounts of water that soak into floors, walls, carpeting or cabinets can cause thousands of dollars of damage.
What can you do to reduce this risk? Here are some tips to help prevent water supply line failures:
- Perform regular visual checks on the water supply lines in your home. Check lines / hoses under sinks, in bathrooms and laundry rooms, and connected to water heaters and appliances such as dishwashers and icemakers. Look for signs of rust, corrosion, or standing water underneath connections that might indicate an imminent failure. If any of these conditions are found, replace the water supply line immediately
- Replace all water supply lines every 10 years, even if there are no signs of wear. Most water supply line failures are sudden bursts that occur due to age.
- When replacing one set of water supply lines, consider replacing all of them to avoid having hoses of different ages throughout the home.
- Replace any rubber or plastic hoses with braided stainless steel hoses, which have been shown to last longer.
- When leaving your home unoccupied for an extended period of time, arrange for a friend or relative to check on the home a few times each week.
- If possible, turn off the water supply main valve when your home will be unoccupied for an extended period.
- Make sure that everyone in your household, including any household staff, knows how to turn off the water at the water main or the individual water source should an active plumbing leak be discovered.
- Consider installing an automatic plumbing leak detection system, which turns off the water supply in the event of a leak.
Matt Hunter is Risk Consulting Service Leader for Chubb Personal Risk Services. He has 26 years of insurance experience in claims, risk management, and loss prevention.