How to avoid costly disasters at your home

Experts list top ways to prevent expensive repairs, headaches

By Vic Micolucci - I-TEAM reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Your home is likely your biggest investment, but it could also be your biggest headache. Houses are filled with landmines that could cost you thousands of dollars in no time.

News4Jax teamed up with the experts at Paul Davis Restoration to build a list of the most common things that can go wrong with your home. Fortunately, there are simple fixes to protect your property, usually for less than $20.

fake house

Paul Davis' corporate headquarters in Jacksonville includes a full-sized, two-story test house where company leaders train employees about repairs and cleanup. It’s called the “flood house.”

Scenario 1: BATHROOM

"We have a lot of losses in the bathroom here in Florida and around the country because of the supply lines getting old, getting brittle, not being the right type,” explained Chris Thomas, the company’s technical trainer. “Being in the house for a long time, cats or pets getting behind the toilet (and) cutting the supply lines off.”

Thomas said it can be devastating in no time.

“As you can see here, the bathroom has only been running for about 45 seconds. We already have water running out into the carpet. The bedroom is soon to be flooded. There is water going to be everywhere upstairs.”

If you’re gone for work all day, or worse, out of town, your whole house could be flooded leaving extensive damage to the drywall, carpet, furniture and more.

So how do we prevent something like this from happening? 

“It's very easy,” according to Thomas. “You're just going to run down to your local hardware store and grab you one of these steel-braided toilet supply lines. Take the plastic one off and put this steel one on there, and you're good for a long time for this. The cost of this is probably $5-6.”

Scenario 2: LAUNDRY ROOM

Water supply lines to washing machines get old. The rubber can decay and the metal can corrode.

A quick demonstration of a bad line shows how the water is gushes out, spraying the wall, floor and everything in between.

“The water is just gushing out of the pipe, and all you need to do is go down to your local hardware store for 15 or 25 bucks,” Thomas explained. “Buy some of these for the hot and cold on the washer machine side. Put them on here. They are steel-braided again. They are going to last forever.”

old PVC pipes

PVC pipes are also a big issue. They get cracked and brittle.

“If this water is left or you are on vacation or out of town and this water is left to run, you're getting 3 gallons a minute in your house,” Thomas said. “You just flooded everything you have.”

For example, 10 minutes of a leak would result in 30 gallons of water throughout your home.

“If you are going on vacation for a week and don't know about it, you are going to get back and everything in your house will be totally underwater,” Thomas warned.

Repairs can be sky high and mold can take over. It’s why you should replace pipes that are yellow and older; metal is a good option. This is one where hiring a plumber could save you in the long run.

Scenario 3: KITCHEN

Don’t forget about your kitchen! Those pipes and valves under your sink can be a recipe for disaster.

“There’s a lot of room for error down there,” said Thomas. “You've got water coming in. It's under high pressure.”

“As you can see here in the video, the water is still running underneath the sink now for about 25 seconds. It's just starting to drop off the end of the cabinets. There is a possibility of tearing the cabinets out if you don't get to them in time.”

back of refrigeratorThese valves can be fragile and easy to bump. It's the same story with the water supply line behind your refrigerator.

“The basic way to prevent this, the refrigerators are easily slid out nowadays, they are on reels,” said Thomas. “You just want to pull that refrigerator out and make sure there are no crimps back there. Check in behind it, make sure you aren't seeing any drips or any water. Any signs this is going to happen.”

Scenario 4: FIRE

Finally, don’t forget about fire danger especially in the kitchen. It’s simple: Don’t forget your smoke detectors and make sure they're loaded good batteries. And make sure you have working fire extinguishers.

“Everyone that lives in your home needs to know where the fire extinguishers are within your home,” Thomas explained. “They need to be able to get to them as quickly as they can. Definitely want one in the kitchen. If you are bi-level or tri-level, you want one on every level. You never know where a fire can start.”

These steps are relatively simple, according to experts. Prevention is not very expensive, especially if you have problems that could cost you tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix.

Experts at Paul Davis Restoration say it’s good to check your pipes and cable at least once a year and if you’re going out of town for a long time, or not using your home, it’s not a bad idea to turn off the water valves, just in case.

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