Household appliance safety

Aren’t household appliances great?  They do our dishes, clean our laundry and provide so many other conveniences that make our lives easier!  However, if not properly serviced and cared for, these appliances can cause serious water damage.  Here are a few tips for keeping your appliance in proper working order to prevent water damage to your home:


  • Dishwashers – A dishwasher can be a devastating cause of water damage. A hose can break dramatically, causing immediate, obvious damage to your kitchen or a small leak can go undetected over a period of time, causing lasting damage to floors and walls.  Inspect dishwasher hoses regularly, looking for signs of deterioration, leaking or damage.   Just to be safe, clean dishes can wait! To avoid a pipe burst going undetected for hours at a time, never run your dishwasher when you are not at home.



  • Ice makers – If the tubing used to rout water to the ice maker is plastic (this is common in homes where an ice maker was later installed) it can become corroded, pinched and damaged over time. This can lead to slow leaks and can cause damage to flooring and surrounding walls.  To avoid ice maker leaks, use copper tubing instead of plastic to avoid damage and consider installing a battery operated flood alarm.  This alarm will indicate any increasing moisture in the area.


  • Water heaters – Over time, water heaters can become corroded and damaged from constant use. Often, water heaters will indicate that they are beginning to malfunction by hissing, whistling, showing visible signs of wear, or not producing hot water with the same efficiency they once did. Hot water heaters can also rupture without visible warning, should the corroded area be somewhere out of sight.  This can cause continuous water to flow into your home, resulting in serious damages. Inspect your hot water heater often so you can easily recognize when something isn’t right.  Replace your appliance if it is starting to show signs of damage.  Make sure that water can be routed out off of the floor in case of a small flood by means of a sump pump or catch pan.  An automatic shut off valve can also be installed to limit the amount of damage caused by rapidly escaping water.


  • Washing machines – Washing machine malfunctions are a very common cause of water damage in homes. Burst hoses, water backups and leaks are often the culprits of this type of expensive damage.  To ensure that a pipe break is noticed quickly, never leave this appliance running when you are not at home.  Similar to your dishwasher, inspect hoses often and make sure the appliance is draining properly.  Washing machines should allow about 4 inches from the wall to the back of the machine to prevent kinks or sharp bends to hoses.  An automatic shut off valve can also be installed to prevent serious water damage.