Southern California has seen an epidemic of water damage losses in the past few years. These types of losses can displace you and your family for months significantly disrupting your normal routine and destroying items of great personal value. Understanding the steps of how you can prevent these losses will save you from financial consequences and emotional turmoil.
Understanding the problem:
Remember when things were going well with the economy? Tract homes from large building developers were being built quickly in Southern California in the late '70's,' 80's and early 90's. Typically new homes were being "thrown up" with less than desirable care. Plumbing materials and construction methods were as "cheap" as possible with homeowners now facing the consequences.
So you think you have premium copper plumbing? Don't be too sure! Exposed plumbing (what you can see) may be copper but what is it connected to in the walls?
Do you have a slab foundation? Is your plumbing imbedded in the slab? (Really-builders placed plumbing in most cases during this time into a rigid concrete structure – in earthquake country. Are you kidding?) Even minor tremors can be enough to dislodge plumbing joints above the foundation from pipes that cannot move in the slab.
Appliance failure is another huge source of water damage losses. Appliances are just not built the way they used to. Remember when washing machines lasted 15 to 20 years? Nowadays due to planned obsolescence by the manufacturers- you're lucky to get 7-10 years of use. (I digress.)
So what can you do?
Replace water delivery hoses for washing machines, toilets, ice makers and indoor faucets every 5 years. One of the best and cheapest investments you can make! Also- turn off the water to the washing machine when you are not using it. OK- at least when you're going away for a few days. These steps are especially important if you have toilets and washer located on the second floor.
Consider adding water sensing gadgets that you can place under a sink or under the washer that will text you a message if they sense water. Water gushing for an hour is much better than water gushing for 8 hours!
If your home does not have a water pressure regulator-add one! A plumber can do this for you or if you're handy you can probably do it yourself. My house built in 1976 did not have one. The water pressure was 150 psi and should have been approximately 65 psi. What has happened is that the local municipalities have been increasing the water flow pressure over the years to the point now where it is just a matter of time before your aging pipes can no longer withstand the pressure and will break inside your walls, in the foundation , etc. So how high is your water pressure? Go to one of those big box stores and purchase a water pressure gauge for about $ 15 and screw it into your garden hose. (My gardener had one.) It will tell you what your water pressure is. Don't wait on this one!
If you have a house that has a central station alarm system-consider adding a "water flow monitor" to your alarm system. If you have a vacation home that you do not visit all the time-this is a must and now required by many insurance companies.
Please consider working on one or more of these items. Your home's well being and your peace of mind are my greatest concerns.