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Water Damage In Home: Common Causes

It’s important for homeowners to keep a watchful eye on the most common causes of water damage in home — or the different types of water damage — in order to avoid the expensive cost of water damage repair costs.

These expenses, even after making an insurance claim, can run well into the thousands of dollars. In fact, a recent study by the insurance industry has proven this point.

Top 5 Types of Water Damage

A recent study of water damage insurance claims has revealed the following as the most common failures that cause water damage in home. None of these top-five types of water damage surprised us as we are called out daily to repair these issues.

  1. Frozen Pipes & Materials
  2. Drains
  3. Toilets
  4. Water Heaters
  5. Washing Machines

Let’s go into more detail below for each of these causes of water damage.

The Most Common Causes of Water Damage in Home

1. Frozen Pipes & Materials Failure

The leading cause of residential water loss in home came from plumbing water-supply system failures. Frozen pipes that soon turned into burst pipes made up nearly 20 percent of plumbing-related claims. In addition, the failure of the pipe system’s materials was a factor in two out of every three failures.

For the claims in the study, 65 percent were due to material failures. When frozen pipes were to blame instead, the failures were about two times more severe in damages than material failure incidents.

A home’s geographic location determines its risk for frozen pipes. For example, a home in Southern California is unlikely to have this problem. However, a home in the upper Midwest is more likely to experience a frozen pipe during the winter months. Homes with pipes that are located in exterior walls or in basements have greater risks of frozen pipes. Exterior hose bib (outdoor water faucets/spigots) are the most vulnerable part of a system for freezing.

2. Drain System Failure

When sewer drains back up into homes, drain system failure is likely to occur. This is more likely to happen than drain corrosion.

The study showed that more than 50 percent of drain system failures happened because of backed-up sewers. Only about 35 percent of failures were attributed to performance problems. Claims from failed drain systems showed that they were among the top five reasons for residential water loss.

These type of water damage failures were more common in homes that were under 40 years of age. Almost 70 percent of sewer-related drain claims came from homes with basements. When the basement was finished, the damage was 65 percent worse than it was in homes with basements that were not finished.

3. Toilet Failure

Toilet failure ranks number two on the list of top causes of residential water loss. Clogged drains and faulty fill valves are usually to blame. Almost 80 percent of claims in this category were due to faulty supply lines, assemblies for fill valves, backed-up toilets and flanges.

New homes were more susceptible to severe damages from sudden failure, which resulted in significant water loss. About 15 percent of toilet failures happened in vacant homes.

4. Water Heater Failure

When water heater tanks reach their maximum age expectancy, they start corroding and rusting. Most water heater failures happen because of corroded tanks that lead to bursts or leaks. If the tank is flushed and maintained properly, it can last longer.

Almost 70 percent of water heater failures happened because of sudden bursts or slow leaks. Although supply line claims only accounted for 10 percent of all claims, they cost homeowners about 60 percent more than other types of water heater failure claims. In about 95 percent of claims, the hot water heater was 20 years old or less.

5. Washing Machine Failure

This type of failure is usually caused by supply hose failure, drain line failure or overflow. Hose failure was to blame in about 50 percent of claims.

Of those claims, nearly 80 percent involved machines that were under 11 years of age. More than five percent of failures took place in unoccupied homes. The failures in those vacant homes led to damages that cost more than two times as much as washing machine failures that happened in occupied homes.

Average Water Damage Repair Costs

You might be surprised at the average cost to a homeowner from these types of water damage in home. The following common failures lead to repairs and restoration work that is truly expensive.

  1. Frozen Pipes & Materials Failures

    These types of water damages averaged nearly $5,100 in repair costs per incident to the homeowner.

  2. Drain System Failures

    Homeowners reported average water damage restoration costs of $4,400 per incident.

  3. Toilet Failures

    Each incident averaged about $6,000 in repair costs to the homeowner.

  4. Water Heater Failures

    Incidents averaged about $4,500 per claim for water damage repair costs.

  5. Washing Machine Failures

    The study showed that the average cost per incident was about $5,300.


The cost of water damage in home is incredibly expensive. It is important for homeowners everywhere to know their risks and minimize them. To learn more about the types of water damage claims and how to avoid them, discuss concerns with a trusted plumber.

Call 1-Tom-Plumber for More Help

Don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237. We will immediately handle any emergency plumbingdrain cleaning and drain clearing, and water damage problem, including excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines.

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