Most homeowners are worried about flooding from outside -- a heavy rain that floods your basement or damage from an overflowing river or stream.
But there are three ways that water can cause flooding from inside your home and do as much or more damage. The first is perhaps the nastiest – a sewer backup.
Waste water moves from your home to a municipal sewage treatment plant or private septic field through a drain pipe. If an obstruction occurs in the pipe, waste water will back up, spilling into your home through toilets and drains.
The obstruction doesn't always originate from inside the house. Very often tree roots will enter sewer pipes where links are joined together. The roots can catch hair and debris and quickly cause a backup.
Three signs of trouble
According to Roto-Rooter, there are 3 signs you've got a sewer line problem; a foul stench coming from drains; slow draining bathtubs or laundry lines, or if the use of other fixtures associated with your main line leads to water backup in places such as toilets or showers. Have a plumber snake out the line at the first sign of trouble.
A washing machine is another potential source of indoor water damage. The appliance is connected to an open water spigot by a small length of hose. Should that hose fail, it's like leaving an open faucet running.
In January a group of New Jersey consumers filed suit against Samsung, claiming its top-load washers were especially prone to drain failure.
Assuming there are no flaws in the appliance, consumers can protect themselves by inspecting the hose connections on a regular basis, or turning off the water spigots when the machine is not in use. Check the manufacturer's recommendation for how often to replace the hoses.
A third source of indoor flooding is your water heater. Tucked away in a closet, you probably don't give it a moment's thought. But if it should spring a leak, it can sends thousands of gallons of water spilling onto your floors until you discover it and turn off the water main.
A leak in a water heater in the Union County, Pa., Government Center unleashed 2,000 gallons of water in early July, affecting about 12,000 square feet of the building. The estimated repair cost totaled $100,000. All of the damage was caused by a leak in a 30-gallon water heater, smaller than many of the ones found in residences.
It's a good idea to flush the water heater tank twice a year to eliminate sediment buildup. Putting in an inexpensive drip pan below the water heater that drains to the outside of the property can help prevent thousands of dollars in water damage in many cases.
Age is a big factor in water heater failure. Many water heater manufacturers estimate the lifespan of these appliances to be 8 to 12 years, so replacing a unit when it is nearing this age can be good insurance policy against unwanted damage.