You can prevent the expense and inconvenience of water damage to your home by following these helpful tips:

Even small leaks can cause big damage. Follow these helpful tips

  • Periodically check your home's plumbing system for leaks, including your water heater.

  • Fix leaky faucets.

  • Don't overload washers.

  • Check underneath washers for leaks or water damage.

  • Feel your walls and floors in bath and kitchen areas for warm spots - these may be a sign of a leak.

  • Look for signs of buckling or peeling paint or yellowed spots in your ceiling - these could mean your roof is leaking.

Prevent water damage.  Water can become a problem anywhere it enters your home. You don't have to be a professional plumber to know that an older appliance that is due to be replaced is a prime candidate for a sudden and accidental water leak. An annual check-up of possible leaks on every water connection, hose and basin is simply good preventative maintenance.

Maintain shower tile and grout.  Older tile shower floors and walls may allow water to seep into sheetrock and beneath the shower basin. This can cause deterioration and rot the wooden structure. Inspect your shower for cracks or missing grout between tiles. Repair missing caulk or grout. Reseal tile with masonry sealer, which can be purchased at most paint or home improvement stores.

Check washing machine hoses.  Even when your washing machine is not in use, the hoses carry pressurized water. If a hose leaks, or bursts even when the washer isn't running, it can quickly fill a room with water. Hoses should be replaced every five to seven years. When replacing the hose, remember to shut off the water supply to the washer. Make sure the new hose is free of kinks and tight bends when it's installed. Keep at least four inches between the water connection and the back of the washing machine. The average cost of these hoses is $10. The more expensive hoses include external steel braided wire, which is more durable and has a lower failure rate.

Maintain hot water heaters.  Hot water heaters should be partially drained annually to keep sediments from building on the bottom and causing erosion and rust of the tank lining. This can prolong the life of your hot water heater. Be careful when draining. To drain, turn off electricity or gas supply. Attach a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and lead it to a nearby floor drain or into a bucket. This water will be hot. Allow it to drain until it becomes clear (typically a gallon or more). Close the drain valve and open the cold water supply to refill the tank. Restore power or gas to the heater.

Check your water pressure.  Water pressure set too high in a home can cause major problems. Pressure should be set between 60 and 80 pounds per square inch (psi). Water pressure over 100 psi can damage your hot water heater and increase the likelihood of leaks. An inexpensive water pressure gauge can determine your water pressure. A plumber can install a pressure-reducing valve that will bring your water pressure back to normal.

Look for water problems.  Review your water bill each month or billing cycle. Unusual fluctuations in the bill when water usage has not changed can tip you off to a small leak before it becomes a catastrophe. Take a few minutes to look at your appliances like washing machines, bathroom fixtures and hot water heaters. Check the floor and woodwork under every appliance for any signs of standing water, stains or damage.

Locate your water shutoff valve.  Make sure everyone in the family knows where to locate a shutoff valve for every appliance they may use. It is also essential to know where your outside water meter is located in order to turn water off to the house. If you plan to be gone from your home for a few days or longer, turn off the water supply to your house.






Every ten seconds a home is robbed or burglarized in America. That's a surprising statistic. It's even more surprising that most burglaries can be prevented by taking a few precautions and following some simple steps. Keep the following tips in mind, and you can keep your home secure. And out of the record books.

  • In almost half of all residential burglaries, thieves enter through an unlocked door or window. So check your locks.

  • Make sure every external door has a sturdy, well-installed deadbolt lock with a minimum of 1-1/2" bolt.

  • Secure sliding glass doors with commercially available locks or with a broomstick or wooden dowel in the track to jam the door.

  • Secure double-hung windows with keylocks or by sliding a bolt or nail through a hole drilled at a downward angle in top corners of the inside sash and partially through the outside sash. Don't forget basement windows!

  • Don't hide keys in mailboxes, planters, or under doormats. Give an extra key to a neighbor you trust.

  • If you've just moved in, have the locks changed.

Check the doors. Locks aren't effective if they're on flimsy doors:

  • Make sure all exterior doors are metal or solid 1-3/4" hardwood.

  • Doors should fit tightly in their frames, with hinge pins on the inside.

  • Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors.

Check the outside. Discourage burglars from selecting your home as their target. Make sure you:

  • Trim shrubbery that hides doors or windows. Cut tree limbs that could help a thief reach windows.

  • Turn on outside lights after dark, front and back. Consider timers or motion detectors.

  • Keep your yard well-maintained. Store ladders and tools inside your locked shed or garage.

  • Ask a trusted neighbor to collect mail and newspapers while you are on vacation.

  • Clearly display your house number so police and other emergency vehicles can find your home quickly.

Install alarms. If you have valuables in your home, consider an alarm system.

  • Check with several companies and decide what level of security fits your needs.

  • Learn how to use your system properly, to avoid false alarms.

Be safe. Burglars generally don't want to run into their victims. But if they're surprised by someone coming home, or if they pick an occupied home, someone may get hurt. Try to avoid trouble:

  • If you see a screen that has been cut, a broken window, or a door that's been left open, don't go in. Call the police from a neighbor's house or a public phone.

  • If you hear a noise that sounds like someone breaking in or moving around, quietly call the police and wait calmly until they arrive. If you can leave safely, do so.

  • Think carefully before buying a firearm for protection.

Look beyond locks and alarms. Be an active member of your community and neighborhood.

  • Join or help start a Neighborhood Watch group.

  • Look around for things that contribute to crime: poor street lighting, abandoned cars, vacant lots, littered playgrounds, etc. Help organize a neighborhood clean-up/fix-up day.

  • Keep written records of all furniture, jewelry, and electronic products.

This information provided by National Crime Prevention Council, National Sheriffs Association, and Radio Shack.





More than 5,000 Americans die each year in fires and more than 25,000 are injured. And an overwhelming number of fires occur in the home. But there are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire, so that you do not become another statistic. It's not a question of luck. It's a matter of planning ahead. We have put together the following fire and water safety tips along with the United States Fire Administration to help you protect your home.

Every home should have at least one working smoke alarm. Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It's inexpensive protection for you and your family. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. A working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Prevent electrical fires. Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced. If you experience flickering lights, hot outlets, tripping circuit breakers or wobbly plugs, hire a licensed electrician to make repairs. If you have an older home, have an electrical inspection to make sure that your house is wired to handle the load of your modern appliances. And remember to have an electrical inspection every 20 years, or when you buy a house.

Install an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter. For $25-$60, you can install an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter that will detect arcs at low levels of current that wouldn't normally trip a circuit breaker. This new technology can prevent fires caused by "arcs", when a spark "jumps" through a tiny gap of air between two ends of a broken wire or a loose connection.

Use appliances wisely. When using appliances, follow the manufacturer's safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home. Periodically check electrical wires for signs of fraying or wear.

Alternate heaters. Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away. Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread. Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.

Look into affordable home fire safety sprinklers. When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable and they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.

Place portable fire extinguishers around your home. Place them along escape routes, not necessarily next to where you expect fire. In the kitchen, the extinguisher belongs near one of the exits from the room, not next to or over the stove.

Plan your escape. Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.

Caring for children. Children under five are naturally curious about fire. Many play with matches and lighters. Tragically, children set over 25,000 house fires every year. Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching your children that fire is a tool, not a toy.

Caring for older people. Every year over 1,000 senior citizens die in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially vulnerable because many live alone and can't respond quickly.

These home fire safety tips have been developed by the United States Fire Administration. For more information, contact:

The United States Fire Administration
Office of Fire Management Programs
16825 South Seton Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
Or visit the USFA web site:

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