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Prevent Water Damage in the Bathroom
By Terry Allen
Most pipes and plumbing joints are installed inside the walls, making it hard to detect signs of water damage.
You must be very attentive to flooring, wall moisture, and stains as they may provide clues for invisible plumbing problems.
Be sure to check moisture levels in adjoining rooms as well. If you suspect that moisture damage is in progress, hire professional help to further inspect and repair the problem.
Do not ignore leaks around the toilet and the bathtub. Unless fixed immediately, these problems will lead to serious damage and expensive repairs afterwards.
Especially in the bathroom, the exhaust fan is important to maintain lower levels of humidity. Use it during and following warm showers or baths to prevent excess moisture build-up.
The exhaust fan ventilates the bathroom by circulating air, thus preventing damp air overloads. A serious red flag for a fan malfunction is accumulation of moisture and mold on the fan or in the duct. This can be easily prevented by a periodic inspection and routine cleaning.
Make sure that the exhaust fan is working properly. It is recommended to wire the exhaust fan so that it will operate automatically when the bathroom is in use.
Whenever inspecting the exhaust fan, check the exterior vent damper and make sure it is clean and properly working.
The toilet is one of the most vulnerable water junctions in your home. Toilet-related leaks will often involve both clean water and sewage adding health hazards to the potential structural damage.
Check the toilet water lines frequently and search for leaks around the toilet seat, in the water hose, and under the water tank. Fix all noticeable leaks immediately.
If you detect any signs of moisture on the floor around the toilet, check for leaks in the toilet rim and tank seals and replace if damaged.
If the floor feels soft, damage may be already occurring. Hire a professional for further inspection and repair.
Be aware that hanging toilet bowl deodorants increases the chances for clogs especially in "low-flow" toilets.
Shower and Bathtub
Exposed to a large amount of daily water, the shower and bathtub require special attention in order to be well maintained.
Start with checking the tiles and replace every cracked tile immediately. To prevent water from dripping behind the tiles, make sure that there is no missing grout between the tiles. Inspect the caulking at joints where the walls meet the floor or the bathtub and replace it if cracked or loose.
If you have a tub surround instead of tile, periodically check the seams to make sure they're not loose or cracked. Repair or replace caulk if needed.
Clogged drains and other invisible plumbing problems will prevent your bathtub from drying completely after use. This may indicate serious problems in the floor beneath the bathtub and should be inspected by a professional immediately to prevent further structural damage.
Discolorations or soft areas around the bathtub walls may indicate a leak inside the walls as well.
Smart Tips for Water Damage Prevention in the Bathroom:
- Check regularly under the sink.
- Treat all bathroom drains periodically.
- Use the exhaust fan.
- Clean the cabinets to prevent water spots from damaging the wood.
- Check the ceiling under the bathroom for signs of uncontrolled moisture.
- Major, unexplained increases to your water bill is often a sign of water leaks.
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