Inside Insurance: Kitchen and bathroom water damage can be costly

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We are now in Kitchen and Bath Month. That might sound like a promotion to remodel, but it’s an opportunity to share important information, urging property owners to take time to inspect their interior plumbing to identify potential problems and do preventive maintenance.

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety warns that water damage in a kitchen or bathroom can lead to expensive repairs. Renters can check for these problems and notify the landlord if any are discovered.

Plumbing problems can lead to increased monthly water bills, banging pipes, rust stains, moisture in the walls or on floors, and sign of wet soil erosion near the foundation. Also, avoid winter frozen-pipe issues by setting your thermostat at 60 degrees or higher and letting faucets drip during cold weather.

A supply system failure averages about $5,000 after the insurance deductible is paid, according to an Institute for Business and Home Safety study. Toilet failures cost more than $5,500. Inspect your toilet twice a year, checking the fill, supply and flush valves and the supply line.

Another common problem is water heater failure. Inspect valves to ensure proper operations and use ball valves in place of gate valves whenever possible. Know the age of the water heater, life expectancy and warranty.

Drain-system failures are often the result of sewer backups. Southern states seem to have the most problems, and the cost of repair averages $4,000 after the deductible is paid.

A blackflow prevention assembly is recommended for older homes on municipal sewer systems below street level.

A major problem can result from a washing machine failure and the ensuing water damage. Rubber hoses should be replaced every three years, and consider upgrading to braided steel hoses. Also, when leaving the home on trips, turn off the hot and cold water supply to the washer.

Many of these costly actions will be paid for by your homeowner’s insurance only after you have paid your deductible. Check with your insurer to make sure you understand your coverage and know the amount of your deductible.

DAVID COLMANS IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE GEORGIA INSURANCE INFORMATION SERVICE. CONTACT HIM AT (770) 565-3806 OR DCOLMANS@GIIS.ORG.


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