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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Stop Water Damage from Your Household Appliances

5/21/2020 (Permalink)

A flooded laundry room Routine maintenance can help you avoid a water disaster from one of your kitchen, bathroom, basement or laundry room plumbed appliances.

Every day, without thinking about it much, you use many of your home’s plumbed appliances: sinks and faucets, tub/shower, toilets, dishwasher, washing machine, water heater, refrigerator. But a sudden plumbing problem can be a disaster, with water leaking (sometimes undetected) and causing severe damage to your home and possessions.

SERVPRO of Manchester/Mansfield recommends that you periodically (once or twice a year) take a close look at your appliances and plumbing fixtures, to catch and fix problems before they become costly emergencies.

Focus your attention on the three major types of appliances and fixtures: the kitchen, the bathroom and the basement/laundry area.  It’s good to know how long an average household appliance lasts, so you can replace an aging appliance before it fails:

Washing machine              5–7 years
Dishwasher                          7 years
Refrigerator                          7 years
Water heater                      15 years

How to Prevent Leaks with Monitoring

The best way to avoid expensive water damage is to prevent a leak from happening, or to stop it as soon as it starts. Leak detectors and alarms catch leaks as they start. Some of these devices will shut off water to your appliance or home at the first sign of a leak.

  • Battery-powered leak alarms have a sensor that is placed on the floor next to plumbing fixtures and appliances, such as washing machines and water heaters. You can also place a sensor on your basement floor to warn you if water is seeping in from outside or if your sump pump has stopped working. Water leak alarms are effective only if you hear the alarm and turn off the water.
  • Wired leak detectors also use wireless water sensors to detect water leaking from an appliance. Wired models can be connected to an automatic shutoff valve on your main water line or at individual appliance shutoffs. Some versions can also be wired into a centrally monitored alarm system or automatically alert your phone when a leak is detected.
  • A water flow sensor can be installed on a home's main water line and programmed to allow normal water flow. If water flow exceeds a specified amount, a valve will close to stop the flow.

How to Prevent Leaks in the Kitchen


  • Observe your dishwasher as it runs. If it fills slowly, there may be a problem with the water supply hose or its shutoff valve. If it drains slowly or if water remains in the bottom of the dishwasher after the cycle is over, check the discharge hose for clogs or pinching.
  • If you spot water beneath the appliance, remove the kickplate below the dishwasher door. Run the dishwasher and look under the machine for water leaks at the hose clamps or along the hose. If a connection is loose or the hose cracked, tighten any loose fittings or replace the damaged hose with a new manufacturer-approved one.


  • Inspect the water supply hose for signs of wear and replace it if needed.
  • If your refrigerator has a water dispenser and ice-maker, replace the filter twice each year. A clogged filter can block water and lead to a leak.

Sink Drains

  • Let water drain out of the sink while you look underneath at the strainer area and the P-trap. If there is seeping, you may need to tighten the P-trap fittings, or replace the strainer basket if it leaks or is corroded. If your sink drains slowly, it may be clogged, so disassemble and clean the P-trap or branch drain.
  • Periodically, clean the kitchen sink drain by running a mild homemade drain cleaner through it.


  • A leaky kitchen faucet is the single most common plumbing repair. Watch your faucet carefully as you operate the lever, and repair the faucet if it requires it. A dripping faucet is more than an annoyance—it can slowly cost you hundreds of gallons of water each year.

Garbage Disposal

  • Inspect the drain connections where the dishwasher discharge connects to the disposal and where the disposal discharge runs to the sink drain. Tighten connections or replace the gaskets if they show signs of leaking. A foul smell from your garbage disposer means it should be cleaned. Follow the manufacturer's advice for routine maintenance.

How to Prevent Leaks in the Bathroom

Bathroom Faucets

  • Check your sink, tub and shower faucets regularly for leaks. If you spot any drips, replace the faucet or worn washers or cartridges.
  • Weak water pressure or an irregular spray pattern may indicate a calcium buildup on the aerator. Remove the aerator and soak it in vinegar or clean it manually.
  • Act fast and call a plumbing expert if you notice signs of water damage in the room below the tub and shower supply lines. Hidden behind walls, even a small leak can cause major damage over time.

Bathroom Drains

  • Don’t wait for your tub, shower or sink drains to get clogged, which can back up and cause leaks. Periodically, disassemble drain traps and remove hair and debris. At the same time, you can also snake out the branch drains to remove more distant clogs.


  • Remove the toilet tank lid and watch what happens as you flush. If your toilet continues to run rather than shutting off at the end of the flush cycle, it’s wasting water. Fixing a running toilet may be as simple as replacing a worn flapper.
  • If your toilet rocks slightly when you sit on it, or if you notice water seeping around its base, you may need to replace the wax ring that seals the toilet base to the drain opening.

Caulking Around Bathroom Fixtures

  • Not technically plumbing, failing caulk around tubs and showers can allow water to get behind walls and under floors. Periodically check the caulk beads along floors and walls and seal any gaps or cracks with fresh caulk, and replace all the caulking every few years.

How to Prevent Leaks in the Basement and Laundry Area

Water Heater

  • Check the floor near the base of the water heater for leaks, which may be caused by a faulty temperature and pressure (T and P) relief valve or a bad drain valve. Also look for signs of water leaking from the cold water inlet pipe and hot water exit pipe above the water heater.
  • Every few years, the water heater tank should be flushed to remove sediment from the bottom of the tank, which can lead to clogs and leaking. You can do this yourself or hire a professional.

Washing Machine

Periodically, turn off the water supply and pull the washing machine away from the wall to do an inspection.

  • Check the fill hoses for signs of wear. If any of the rubber hoses are beginning to bulge, replace them immediately—a burst hose (especially if you are away from home) can cause expensive water damage. Replace worn or even slightly damaged hoses as soon as possible.
  • Check for loose connections at all the valves. If loose, tighten the connections of the drain hose, the water hose to the washer valves, and the water hoses to the inlets. Also, test the valves themselves and replace them if they do not completely stop the flow of water when shut off.
  • If your washer shakes while it spins and agitates, water may spill out onto your laundry room floor. Re-balance the machine by adjusting the pedestal, leveling the floor or re-leveling the machine itself.
  • If water escapes during the spin cycle, but the machine is level, check the hoses for clogs, which will send water flowing onto your laundry room floor instead of down the drain pipe. Clear the clog by first softening it with hot water then fishing it out with a straightened wire hanger.

Sump pump

  • If your home has a basement with a sump pit and pump, check periodically to make sure it is operating properly. Fill the sump pit with water from a bucket and watch to make sure the pump activates to remove the water.
  • Consider an emergency backup battery system so that your sump pump will operate during power failures. It will also sound an alarm when maintenance is needed or a battery problem is detected.

If You Have a Leak or Flood

There’s no mistaking a sudden leak from a toilet or other appliance, which can flood your home with water. But there are more subtle signs of a looming water disaster that you also shouldn’t ignore: puddles around the bases of tubs, toilets and showers or beneath the water heater, dishwasher and clothes washer.

Shut Off the Water Supply

Whether it’s a flood or a puddle, stop the water from leaking by shutting off the water supply to the appliance—or if necessary, the whole house. Knowing where your shutoff valves are and how to use them can save you time and a lot of water damage. (If the leak is substantial, shut off the electricity to your home, too, to prevent an electric shock.)

Whole house valves:

  • Well shutoff: look on the house side of the pressure tank. (Cut power to the tank so it doesn't detect a phantom pressure loss and burn out trying to compensate.)
  • Metered water shutoff: look on either side of the water meter, which may be in the basement, mounted on an exterior wall or even out by the street. This will typically be a gate-type valve, with a round knurled handle, requiring several full clockwise rotations to turn off. In newer homes, it could be a ball valve.
  • Whole house hot water shutoff: There should be a valve on the hot-water outlet of your water heater. (If there isn't a valve here, you or your plumber should install one.)

Appliance valves:

These supply stops usually have a small round or oval handle that you turn clockwise two to four full turns to shut off the flow of water.

  • Toilet shutoff: The shutoff valve, found under the toilet tank, typically has a ribbed oval handle.
  • Sink shutoff: These shutoffs usually sit beneath the sink, within the cabinet or vanity if you have one. The hot water valve is usually on the left and the cold water valve on the right.
  • Dishwasher shutoff: Look first under the kitchen sink to locate the valve on the 1/2-inch hot-water supply line leading to the dishwasher. If it’s not there, go to your basement and look for it between the ceiling joists just below the dishwasher.
  • Washing machine shutoff: The hot and cold shutoff valves are located where the house-supply lines meet the washer hoses. It’s a good habit to always close the valves when leaving home for an extended period.

Repair Water Damage

Once you’ve stopped the flow of water, clean up any standing water. This will help prevent slips and falls, reduce the chances of water damage to home and furnishings, and minimize the odds of mold growth.

Then within 48 hours, you need to dry your home and repair any damage, because that’s when mold may begin to grow, leading to an even tougher cleanup.

Remember, any time you experience water damage in your home—from a flooded basement to an overflowing toilet—call the pros at SERVPRO of Manchester/Mansfield. Experts at water disaster remediation, we have the resources and skills to get to your home fast, stop the leak and clean up the damage, restoring your home to its before-disaster condition.

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of Manchester/Mansfield has specialized training and experience in water damage remediation, fire restoration services, natural disaster prevention, chemical cleanup, and natural disaster cleanup. Call SERVPRO of Manchester/Mansfield (860.649.0836) any time.

If your home or business suffers a flood or other water damage, call SERVPRO of Manchester/Mansfield today at 860.649.0836 for immediate expert water damage cleanup

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If your home or business suffers a flood or other water damage, call SERVPRO of Manchester/Mansfield today at 860.649.0836 for immediate expert water damage cleanup

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