The best way for a beginner to deal with water damage is to be prepared before your living room gets turned into the world’s most shallow swimming pool!
First of all, do you know where your water shut-off valves are?
One night I was awakened by the sound of hissing coming from downstairs in my two-story home. Upon investigating I discovered that the wall-to-wall carpet in the family game room was submerged under about half an inch of water. The “hiss” was coming from a ruptured hose behind the washing machine in an adjacent room. I reached behind the machine, found the shut-off handle for the water and turned it as hard as I could. But, the mechanism must have been old and worn because a little water continued to flow from the small, but significant hole in the rubber pipe that fed the machine.
I had to find the main shut-off valve for the whole house. Did I know where it was? I did not.
I found it the next morning when I coaxed a plumber to come show me where it was.
Where is yours? It will probably be outside your home, in the ground, under a small, metal cover. Once you find it (or if you already know where it is) turn on a faucet that you can see or hear – maybe one attached to your sprinklers or a hose. Next, turn off the water from this main valve. There is a special tool you can get to turn the small handle, but I have done just fine with a vice grips or a good, large pliers.
Once you have turned it off and the water stops from the faucet you left running, you know you can do it – so, turn it back on again and go about your daily affairs knowing that you can save your home from a broken pipe if ever you need to.
But let’s say you have a night time leak and awaken to find water all over the place – it flowed under your television set, over the multi-plug that you have your computer, printer, monitor and scanners plugged into, it even saturated the carpets under the floor lamps in the living room. Don’t go there! Water and electric gadgets are a bad combination! So, can you get to the master power switch for the whole house without getting wet? Can you cut the power without sloshing through all the possible electric booby traps?
Perhaps you are way ahead of me, but do you know where your power cut off is for the house? Or do you know where the fuse box is? In short, can you shut down the power to all the electrical gadgets in your house? Do you know how to cut the power?
If not, you guessed it, now would be a good time to try it out – at least once. Perhaps you could show your spouse or kids (if they are old enough to be entrusted with this sort of emergency-only knowledge).
We have other articles about saving your precious belongings if water ever gets into your home, but for now, keep in mind that you and your family are the most precious things in your house, and just knowing these two simple pieces of pre-disaster technology can make a world of difference!
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