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How to stop mold before it starts

The tender loving care you give your home isn't the kind of TLC that will prevent water and mold from seriously damaging your home.

"Thorough Leak Checks" (T.L.C.) are a form of preventive maintenance that can save you from filing expensive water damage and mold claims. The Insurance Council of Texas and Allstate Insurance Co. have identified the three most common sources of water damage as:

  • Washing machine hoses.
  • Shower tile grout.
  • Water heaters.

By checking on each of these once a month, you significantly decreasing the chance of water damage in your home.

Washing machine hoses carry pressurized water all the time. If one burst, it could fill a room or an entire floor in your house with several inches of water. Checking for leaks or signs of deterioration and replace worn hoses before they fail is the best way to prevent an accident from happening. Just remember to shut off the water supply to the washing machine before replacing the hose.

Tip: Make sure the new hose is free of kinks and tight bends when it is installed. There are several thickness levels of hoses and different materials from which to choose. Hoses with external steel braided wire may be more costly than rubber hoses but have a lower failure rate. If you don't already have one, have a single-handle water shutoff installed and be sure to turn off the water whenever the machine is not in use.

It's easy to see when your bathroom sink is leaking, but what about the water you don't see? Water that seeps through cracks in grout and caulk can rot the wooden structure of your home. Check your grout and tiles for cracks — especially in the shower — and repair them right away if you find anything.

Tip: Reseal your tile every six months with masonry sealer, which can be purchased at any paint or home improvement store. The caulk around the tub and sink needs to be checked and replaced periodicaly, as well.

Think of the gallons of water in your water heater flooding your house. If you check for leaks in the drain valve, safety valve, and plumbing connections, you can stop a disaster before it happens. By partially draining your water heater every six months, you keep sediment from building up on the bottom and causing erosion and rust from eating away at the tank lining. This can also prolong the life of the appliance.

Tip: To drain the heater, turn off the electricity or the gas supply. Attach a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and lead it to a nearby floor drain or into a bucket. Let the water drain until it becomes clean (typically a gallon or more) and then close the drain valve. When this is done, restore the power or gas to the heater.

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