Posted on March 8, 2012 in Disasters, Published Articles, Sunriver Scene, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

As published in the Sunriver Scene By Shannon Bassett – Caretaking Commander, Home Fridays

No one wants to think about water emergencies. Imagine a call from a neighbor alerting you to water running down your driveway and icicles on the inside of the window. One faulty furnace caused an interior drop in temperature to a vacant home. Several months passed before the problem was discovered. Water saturated the upstairs, dripped downstairs and flowed under the front door. The house was in ‘repair’ status and unusable for over a year.
If your furnace fails you might face a similar experience. A cold house leads to broken pipes when the weather gets cold. Broken pipes thaw out and the water runs freely through the house.
While more common in the winter, water emergencies also happen in the summer. Washing machines and toilet supply lines are common sites for breaks and leaks. The most common cause of interior water damage, according to many plumbers, is the ice maker. A broken ice maker will pump hundreds of gallons of water into your kitchen, causing thousands of dollars of damage. A plastic supply line is an easy target for mice looking for a water source—just a couple nibbles and you have water running everywhere. Water heaters have a predetermined life expectancy which they rarely exceed. The bottoms rust out or the fixtures start leaking. Cracked hose bibs are another common winter water issue. The pipe breaks inside the wall due to a garden hose left attached to the bib or due to a lack of insulation. The water saturates the wall and runs inside the house continuously.
With all this doom and gloom, is there a silver lining? Prevention is the key to limiting your damage. Proactive maintenance and vigilant attention to the house will help catch the water before it becomes a big problem. Most leaks start out small, so if someone is watching your house you can prevent the big price tag that comes with a major water problem.
Regular annual maintenance to your furnace is also highly recommended. Not only will your furnace last longer and run more efficiently, you may avoid a winter breakdown. Three days without heat when the temperatures are below freezing and you will have frozen pipes, guaranteed. Every winter I have a few owners who don’t want to pay for annual furnace maintenance. Without fail at least two of three who decline the service have major furnace failures during the winter and wind up spending significantly more money than a maintenance visit would have cost.
Clearing the ice dams and making sure the snow is running off the house (instead of inside) is critical during the difficult weather. You also want to regularly check toilets, washers and ice makers to make sure the supply lines are dry and there is no water leaking in or around the area. A damp line is an indication that the part is starting to fail. Changing out supply lines to a braided type will minimize chances of toilet and washing machine leaks. Scrutinize areas that have had problems in the past such as leaky skylights and ill-fitting doors. A quick fix now will protect your home from extensive water damage in the future.
Alarm systems now exist to alert you when water is detected in the home. ‘Water Bugs’ are placed around the sensitive areas such as the water heater, and under the refrigerator or sink. When moisture is detected the alarm calls to let you know. Another type of alarm monitors water usage in the house and shuts off the water valve when too much water is flowing through the house. Easy-to-reach water controls installed by a licensed plumber make it easy to turn off all the water when you leave the house for an extended period of time.
Taking care of the small things can add up. But when compared to the significant cost and inconvenience of a major water restoration job, these prevention-related costs are minimal. Remember if damage occurs over time and the house has been vacant, it might not even be covered by insurance. Insurance companies often classify a house as vacant if no one has been there for 30 days. So be vigilant, proactive and get a second set of eyes on the place if you can’t be there yourself.
To get help with your home call me, the Caretaking Commander, at Home Fridays. I have been buying, renovating and managing residential and commercial properties for over 20 years. My locally-based company, Home Fridays (homefridays.com), offers professional home management and concierge services to vacation home owners. You can reach me at 541/317-3088 or shannon@homefridays.com.

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Posted on March 29, 2011 in Disasters, Spring, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

A wise women said this to me the other day.  Never has a truer statement been uttered.  When it is your beautiful floors, your walls and your furniture versus the water from an appliance or an outdoor source – your home doesn’t stand a chance. 

 If the frozen stuff is on the roof – it will work its way down and sometimes that means into your house.  If the water heater is expiring (rusting out on the bottom or through a hose) – then it will flood the room and often keep pumping in more water.  If the ice maker goes, it just pumps water into the house and your kitchen floors are a thing of the past.  A little leaky faucet will become a big leaky faucet.  Hopefully a running toilet just runs up your water bill and doesn’t create the need for a new floor. 

So with all this doom and gloom – what is the silver lining?   Prevention is the best answer.  Be proactive in maintaining the water heater, the toilet seals and managing the icy roofs.  Water heaters have an identified life – keep an eye on the bottom and look for rust.  Most leaks start with a small bit of water.   Leaking faucets typically start off with a small leak.  An empty house may develop issues and no one is there to see.  Having weekly house checks is a great solution.  Get someone inside and outside watching the house.  Look for problems before they become significant – focused on any water sources or potential water sources.  Keep an eye on anything that has been trouble in the past such as a leaky skylight or a set of doors that tends to have puddles outside.  Watch the water heater for any signs of wear and tear.  The washing machine hose should always be dry – any moisture indicates the start of a leak.  The supply line on the toilet is another one that should be checked to see if it is dry. 

 Taking care of the small things can seem to add up — but compared to significance water restoration jobs, they are nothing.  And remember if the damage occurred over time and the house was vacant – insurance might not cover it.  The insurance companies often classify a house empty for 30 days consecutively as ‘vacant’ and therefore not covered.  So be vigilant.

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Posted on April 19, 2010 in Disasters by ShannonNo Comments »

Did you know that in the city of Bend, Oregon if your water usage is excessively high the city will come out and hang a tag on your door telling you about the high water usage?  It is a nice gesture, but seriously who is going to see that if you are out of town?   Apparently if nothing is done, then the city in the next month or so will come back out and turn off the water.  But at that point — the damage is done!   What you need is someone to find the hang tag and take immediate action.  High water consumption can be a big deal — leaks in the house, leaks in the sprinkler system.  None of it a good thing.

We recently found a home we take care of that was ‘tagged’ by the city.  Turned out with lots of research with the plumber, talking with the city and meeting the city — that the high water usage was found.  In the meantime we were able to assure the client that nothing in the house was leaking — the ultimate fear of anyone who hears ‘lots of water’.   The humidifier was excessively flushing and once it was turned off, the water usage dropped to zero.  Would this have been found eventually?  If someone was home it might have taken even longer to figure out.  As we easily shut off each part of the house and irrigation system until the source was found.  And with no one watching the house, the problem would have gone on for a few more weeks or months before the city shut off the water.  The easiest solution — have a service such as Home Fridays watch over your home.  Your second home is our first priority!

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