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When pipes leak: One simple step can prevent expensive damages

May 22, 2019

One simple, important step could save homeowners thousands of dollars if they happen to spot a water leak early.

Leaks are one of the top insurance claims by homeowners and the most common flooding-related claim.

According to Deanna Pucciarelli of Fuquay-Varina, the toilet in her upstairs master bathroom leaked everywhere after the seal between the tank and the toilet bowl gave out, flooding her bathroom and the kitchen below.

“There was water pouring out of the ceiling ... the light fixtures,” Pucciarelli told 5 on Your Side. “It was coming out everywhere.”

With her husband downstairs and towels and pots all over the kitchen floor, Pucciarelli worked on the chaos upstairs.

“I was ripping the carpets out of the closet, trying to drag them into the shower,” Pucciarelli said. “I put them in there -- it sounded like a faucet was running. That’s how much water was just dripping down the drain.”

Ryan Oakley of EMERG+NC Property Rescuers in Raleigh said he sees this kind of damage at least three times a week. With leaks, he warns, you can’t rely only on what you see.

While a leak may not look bad, “it’s what’s in between it,” Oakley said, adding that if homeowners try to take care of a leak themselves, he’ll often get a call about mold issues a few months later.

“You can’t just paint over mold and moisture,” Oakley explained. According to Oakley, the most common trouble spots are water supply lines to refrigerators, washing machines, toilet connections and seals and water heaters -- especially those in attics.

“Pay attention to the age and type of materials used,” he said, adding that plastic washers, nuts on hook-ups and thin supply lines aren’t durable. “That stuff goes,” Oakley said. “Under constant pressure, eventually, it’s gonna go.” Oakley recommends replacing plastic lines with stainless steel braided ones. They cost less than $20 and, sometimes, as little as $10.

If there is ever a leak in your home, shut off the water supply quickly.

Depending on the age of your home, a whole-house water valve could be in a hall closet, near the water heater or just inside your crawl space.

At minimum, there’s one at the street.

You’ll need a special tool called a key. It’s only about $10, and Oakley said it is very easy to use.

Pucciarelli said the repairs she will need include new floors in her bathroom and kitchen. Oakley estimated the completed job will cost roughly $8,000.

Pucciareli said that is an overwhelming idea, especially considering that her house is not that old. “You don’t think this would happen in new homes,” she said. “My house was built in 2012.”

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