Home Insurance

Preventing water damage in your home

Close up of snow melting off roof

Water damage is one of the most common and costly types of homeowners insurance claims.

According to the Insurance Information Institute:

  • Every year, about 1 in 60 home owners files a water damage claim
  • Water damage claims account for 24% of all homeowners insurance claims
  • The average cost of a water damage claim is $11,650

Performing regular checks and maintenance can help you avoid the cost, cleanup and inconvenience of water damage to your home and possessions.

Five appliances are most often the culprits when household water leaks spring up: water heater, washing machine, refrigerator, dishwasher and sump pump. Inspecting these appliances several times a year could save you time and money.

Water heaters

It's a good idea to inspect your water heater several times a year for rust or leaks. If it's nearing eight years old, this is even more important - most water heaters have a lifespan of around eight to 10 years.

You should look out for:

  • Wet spots on the floor
  • Leaks from the bottom, valves or pipes
  • Rust on the tank

If you find these, you should call a professional to inspect your tank and see if it's time to invest in a new one. It's also a good idea to flush your tank annually to get rid of sediment buildup. If you've never flushed your water heater before, and it's four years or older, you'll need to call a professional to flush it.

The average cost to replace a water heater is around $1,200, but you could end up paying more if the water heater leaks or bursts when you also consider the loss of personal possessions and keepsakes that are often stored nearby.

Washing machines

Routinely check the supply line connected to your washing machine.

All materials have a life expectancy, and it can be lengthened or shortened by many factors: water type, water pressure, installation techniques and frequency of use. Look for signs of leaking, like corrosion or water deposits, and if needed, replace the rubber or rigid metal with braided metal supply lines, many of which have built-in leak detectors and shutoff valves.


Refrigerators with icemakers can spring a leak if the water line gets damaged, clogged or crimped. Check the water supply line to make sure it is securely attached. If at some point you do have to replace the line, the good news is it only costs around $25.


Your dishwasher can leak under the sink or around its base. Check for:

  • Discoloration of the dishwasher or floor
  • Warped or soft floor materials
  • Water damage to nearby cabinets

If you find any of these signs, call a plumber to see if your dishwasher can be repaired or if it’s time to replace it.

Sump pumps

If your home has a sump pump, you should have a back-up to your primary power source installed, like a battery backup or a generator. Test it annually, preferably before your wettest season.

Check out these other resources:

  • Safeguard your home and valuables against water damage from faltering appliances
  • Make sure your water heater is in good working condition

Horace Mann Insurance Company and its affiliates underwrite Horace Mann home insurance.