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Cool Gadgets and Gizmos to Prevent Water Leaks in Your House

January 20, 2010

There are a number of gadgets and devices available that can help keep water damage at bay. Some lessen the likelihood of a water problem from developing and some quickly alert you to a problem which can help to lessen its severity.

This is not an exhaustive list of what’s available but just a few ideas to get you started.

Reinforced Hoses for Washing Machines and Dishwashers
A washing machine does not have to be in operation to leak or have a hose burst. Actually, most of the worst washer-related home damage comes from burst hoses. That’s why it’s important to regularly inspect both the hot and cold water supply hoses for kinks, cracks, blisters or bulging and to replace them when they show any signs of wear

For both washing machines and dishwashers, consider using hoses that are reinforced with stainless steel braiding or mesh, rather than the rubber or plastic hoses that come from the manufacturer. The reinforced hoses only cost a few dollars more – a small price to pay for more peace of mind.

Hoses, whether rubber or reinforced, won’t last indefinitely and should be replaced every few years.

• Before changing your hoses, first unplug the machine.
• Then make sure the water to the appliance is turned off.
• Change out the hoses then turn the power and water back on, checking to make sure all connections are tight and dry.

Pressure Testing Gauge
One of the major causes of leaks and burst pipes in a home is stress and strain from water pressure that is set too high. When this is the case hoses, pipes and water lines can “crack under pressure” and create leaks or gushes that could cause thousands of dollars in damage.

At most hardware or home improvement stores you can find a simple, inexpensive device called a water pressure gauge. Simply attach it to an outdoor faucet, then turn the faucet on full force. The gauge will give a reading of the home’s water pressure. If it is above the recommended psi, it will need to be reset by installing a pressure reducing valve, also available at hardware, plumbing supply or home improvement stores. It’s a project that can often be done quickly by a do-it-yourselfer and can add years to the life to your plumbing.

Water Detectors
Did you know you can buy devices that detect water where it’s not wanted in your home? Many water sensors are inexpensive, battery-powered styles you can place on sump pumps and there are other models to put on floors near plumbing that could leak. You don’t need any tools, and installation is often simple.

Other electric styles, either plug-in or hard-wired, vary between self-installation or require a professional. The purpose of any unit is to sound an alarm when it detects water. Alarm transmitters need to be placed where they will be heard if they activate.

Check batteries and power sources regularly, just as you should on those for smoke detectors and other safety-related units that use them.

Water shut-off valves and sensor/shut-off devices
With water shut-off valves you can go with something that’s manual or automatic or a combination. At the very least, consider an inexpensive manual shut-off valve to your washing machine’s water supply. It’s about as basic as can be: a valve, lever or handle that lets you shut off the water to your washer when it’s not in use. This reduces continuous pressure on washer hoses that over time could cause them to burst.

Try to make it a habit to shut off the water to your washer any time you’re not using it. And always shut it off when you leave for a weekend or longer so a hose burst does not go undetected for days or weeks.

More sophisticated (and costly) water-sensor systems automatically shut off the water supply to a specific appliance or to the entire house when a leak is detected. The price and installation of these electronic systems can vary. Some can be installed by a home owner; for others, a plumber must install the special valves and an electrician must wire the sensors. Keep in mind these costs are in addition to the price of the hardware. Some of these systems are available only through professional installers, others at plumbing supply stores, online retailers and a few at hardware or home improvement stores.

Here are just a few online retailers. We don’t specifically recommend or endorse their products but provides them to give you an idea of what’s available.


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