There’s not a cloud in the sky and the weather is gorgeous, yet here you are: filing a water damage claim with your insurance carrier because of a flood in your bathroom. Maybe it’s cold comfort, but you’re got lots of company: nearly half of all water damage claims stem from indoor plumbing issues. 

How to avoid this damp surprise, which inevitably happens right before vacation or at midnight? First, know the frailties of your plumbing system. Next, take smart prevention measures. Finally, act fast if leaks occur despite your best efforts.

Many leaks and floods occur when older piping springs leaks without warning. “PVC piping can become yellow, brittle and easily breakable,” says Leslie Anderson, Vice President of Training at Paul Davis. “Copper plumbing sometimes exhibits pinholes that spray fine mists or drip. This damage can be hidden behind walls or in areas like basements and crawl spaces, making it difficult to detect in the early stages.” Warning signs, Anderson adds, include knocking or banging sounds from pipes, water pressure that is lower than usual, dripping sounds that you can’t locate and new water stains. Pipes aren’t the only culprits when indoor floods happen: washing machines, heating and ventilation systems, and water heaters are famous violators, too. 

Regular maintenance, inspection and replacement help keep water confined. In fact, experts say that many appliance and system leaks show warning signs before they occur that qualified professionals can easily identify. Some homeowners hire plumbers to periodically “audit” plumbing systems and others elect to install sump pumps or digital early warning technology. In the DIY category, pay particular attention to replacing washing machine hoses every three to five years lest they burst as they degrade with age.

If surprise leaks do occur, don’t delay in shutting off the main water supply and getting immediate help. Mould and mildew can begin to grow on surfaces in as little as 24 hours, necessitating thorough cleanup by trained professionals. Finally, check your insurance coverage for water damage. Many homeowners aren’t just surprised by indoor flooding – they’re dismayed to find that many policies don’t cover all repair and restoration costs. 

Flood at home anyway? Paul Davis, which excels at communicating with insurance companies, promises to be on site within four hours of your call for help.