Honey, the Washing Machine Hose Just Broke!

In Homeowners by Doug Phelps

Recently I visited with Mark Peter, a Denver area agent for State Farm, regarding water damage caused by ice dams and water condensation in home attics. Read that interview here.

Other types of water leaks often happen inside the living areas of our homes. Mark and I talked about these and ways to prevent and limit potential damage.

Doug Phelps: While stopping a leak or repairing a washing machine hose down in the basement might be fairly straightforward, this kind of surprise is frustrating – be it during dinner, at 2 a.m. or when you are away at work or on vacation. What do you know about available systems to inform us that we have a problem?

Mark Peter: Actually, there are several water alarms available that can give you some piece of mind. A low-tech option would be something like the Zircon Leak Alert. You place sensors or alarms next to the washing machine, under your kitchen cabinet next to the dishwasher, next to your water heater, toilets, etc.  The sensor will sound a high pitched alarm if it detects moisture or water.

I use them and it recently alerted me to a situation that needed to be addressed with my washing machine. And it makes sense to run the dishwasher while you are home (as opposed to starting it as you walk out the door) so if there is a dishwasher leak that is detected, you would be home to hear it. A set of 3 costs about $40 at a local hardware store like Home Depot. There are other systems on the market so do your investigation and choose what is best for your situation.

DP: I like the sound of that, if you pardon my pun! What if I’m not at home, away for extended periods or have a property that is mostly unoccupied?

MP: I always encourage homeowners to turn off the water to systems that aren’t used. For those that water must be on, an active system would be something along the lines of the Water Cop system. Again, you place sensors near the “prime suspects.”  The difference with this type of system is when moisture is detected, the sensors send a signal to a unit connected to your main water line and the water is shut off.

This is a great system for secondary homes where you may not be there for long periods of time. Think of how much damage could be caused by an undetected water leak or pipe burst over the course of several hours or even days! Some insurers will even require this type of system for mountain properties, secondary homes or homes that have had prior water losses. The unit connected to your main water valve should be installed by a licensed plumber familiar with the system.  Last I checked, pricing started around $1,500 for the unit, several sensors and installation.

DP: At $1,500 it seems like a small price to pay that could save you tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, repair and replacement. Thanks for the advice, Mark!

For more information or to discuss a specific homeowner’s insurance question, please contact Mark Peter at 303-755-3220 and [email protected].

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