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April Showers Not Leading Cause of Household Water Leaks


State Farm® reports plumbing and major appliances responsible for 80 percent of all leaks

Bloomington, Ill. – While homeowners enjoy their May flowers resulting from April showers, they often blame the month’s rain on their springtime household leaks, too. According to State Farm® claims data, however, more than 80 percent of household leaks are caused by plumbing and major appliances. In 2007, more than 150,000 homeowners filed claims with State Farm after experiencing water damage from a plumbing or major appliance leak inside their home.

State Farm insures about one in every five homes in the U.S. and reported that in 2007, water caused significant damage to homes, with the average leak costing policyholders more than $7,500 to repair. State Farm suggests routine maintenance and early detection of trouble spots can help homeowners avoid costly leaks and potentially save money. Addressing even minor leaks is important because most property insurance policies only cover water losses caused by sudden and accidental overflow, not continuous or repeated leakage, which occurs over time.

“Nearly one-quarter of State Farm’s total home claims result from all categories of water damage,” said Betsy McDermeit, State Farm analyst. “It’s worth homeowners’ time to take a few extra moments to check around the base of major appliances, such as dishwashers and washing machines, for evidence of leaks, which may appear in the form of discolored, warped or soft flooring materials. Early detection is key to avoiding thousands of dollars in damage, not to mention the inconvenience of major repairs.”

According to State Farm, water leaks can happen anywhere in the house, but they occur most frequently in the kitchen, laundry room and bathroom. Toilet leaks, one of the most common and costly for homeowners, caused an average of $10,000 in damage per home in 2007. State Farm recommends homeowners take the following precautions:

* Install water leak detection systems on major appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines or hot water heaters to monitor leaks

* Check the water supply lines to major appliances for wetness, bulging hoses or other signs of deterioration

* Unclog the drain if pipes are slow-draining and check pipes under the sink for signs of water leaks

* Avoid placing too much toilet paper or inappropriate objects, such as hanging bowl deodorants and chlorine tablet cleaners, in the bowl as they can accidentally clog toilets and cause leaks

* Replace water heater every 8 - 12 years

* Install hot water heaters on the lowest level of the home and always located next to a floor drain

* Have the air conditioning system serviced annually

To help homeowners build safer and stronger homes, State Farm founded the Building Technology Research (BTR) lab to test building materials and appliances against weather-related forces, like hailstorms or hurricanes, and other events, like fire and water damage. As part of this research, the BTR identifies common weak spots in homes for leaks and educates homeowners on how to prevent serious water damage.

“State Farm helps homeowners protect the roof over their heads and everything under it,” said Kirby Cheek, researcher at State Farm. “In particular, we’ve found water leak detection systems to successfully help homeowners monitor and identify leaks before they cause major damage. Whole-house systems are the most effective; when a leak is detected, the system automatically will shut off the entire water supply.”

Homeowners can go to to learn more about leak detection systems, routine maintenance and early detection tips to help avoid damage from leaky pipes.


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