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Is your bathroom at risk for water damage?

A leaky faucet that drips one drop per second can waste more then 3,000 gallons of water a year. Leaks in homes can use more than 1 trillion gallons of water each year, an average of 10,000 gallons per household. The most common sources of leaks are toilet flappers, dripping faucets and other leaking valves, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. One of the major sources of leaks is the bathroom. Surprisingly, certain design elements can increase the risk for water damage — or ensure that the damage stays hidden until it turns into a massive problem.

These issues aren’t limited to either residential or commercial construction, but can be found in all kinds of bathrooms, whether it is the one in your own home or a five-star hotel. Here are three areas to watch for potential water damage, and when it is time to replace fixtures or remodel, making smart choices can reduce the risk of water damage in your new bathroom:


Vanities can hide leaks from supply lines or poorly caulked sinks. (Photo: iStock)

1. The bathroom sink

Bathroom sinks are notorious for causing water damage and it makes sense. We use these fixtures every day, which means a lot of wear and tear. In fact, among homes, the bathroom and kitchen sink make up 16% of your water usage, on average. Even splashing your way through your morning routine can cause some damage. While you can’t eliminate the sink entirely, there are several ways to reduce some of the hidden sources of damage. Pay close attention to the vanity or get rid of it entirely. There are numerous ways that vanities can obscure water damage: Water supply lines running through the wall or floor can develop leaks between the vanity itself and the wall or floor. In addition, the connections to the faucet and the drain can leak, which can be a major issue if you don’t look inside the cabinet often. Finally, all that splashing in the sink can cause damage to the vanity’s finish, especially if it is made of wood or laminated particle board. One way to avoid these issues is to install a pedestal or a wall-mounted sink. Because the plumbing isn’t obscured by the cabinet, you’ll notice a puddle on the floor quickly and be able to fix the issue before it gets out of control. If you decide to go with a vanity anyway, make sure to check all of the fittings underneath the sink regularly. Also, watch the caulk that seals drop-in sinks to the countertop. If the seal around the sink is broken, then splashed water will run underneath the sink and into the cabinet below.

Check the flapper, wax ring and wall fixtures for leaks. (Photo: iStock)

2. The toilet

Toilets can cause just as much damage as a sink, but if you don’t know what to look for, then that damage can go unnoticed for a long time. The top sign of water damage from a leaking toilet is a soft, spongy floor, or a toilet that rocks easily. You may also find mildew or rot behind the toilet itself. Here are a few of the causes: The easiest leaks to identify are those coming from the supply line to the toilet, or a leak between the toilet and the tank. Coloring the water in the tank can make it easier to identify where it is leaking. To prevent water damage, check this area often and make repairs as necessary. Sometimes the wax ring between the toilet and the pipe that the toilet rests on doesn’t provide a good seal. This can be a concern particularly if the toilet isn’t fastened tightly to the floor. If you can move the toilet, then be prepared to install a new wax ring and re-fasten the toilet firmly to the floor. The hardest water damage issue to pinpoint is condensation. Let’s say there is mildew behind the toilet, or the floor around the base is always damp, but there is no apparent source for the leak. In cases like these, condensation is often the culprit. The problem is toilet tanks are usually only supplied with cold water, so on hot days, condensation will form on the outside of the tank which can damage the wall behind the toilet or drip onto the floor. One way to fix this is to install a Styrofoam insert inside the toilet tank to insulate the cold water from the warm air.

Water damage can occur from leaking fixtures or poorly sealed grout or calking. (Photo: iStock)

3. The shower

There are three big ways that a tub or shower can cause water damage: Damaged caulking, worn or unsealed grout between tiles, and through the plumbing. Frequently, plumbing problems are difficult to detect because the supply lines to the faucet and showerhead are hidden within walls. If at all possible, install an access panel behind the shower to allow periodic inspections of the plumbing. You can also prevent excessive water damage by routinely inspecting underneath the shower, if you have access. When it comes to grout and caulk, these are relatively easy to correct and should be checked annually to prevent damage. In particular, look at the caulking along the base of a tub or shower surround, or at the base of the wall tiles. If it looks like the caulk isn’t providing a good seal, remove it and re-apply. For grout, simply make sure that it hasn’t worn too thin. Otherwise, you’ll need to re-apply the grout as well. In addition, if you’re not using a watertight epoxy grout, then apply a grout sealant to prevent seepage. By identifying and eliminating the risks highlighted here, and keeping up with a routine inspection and maintenance schedule, it is very possible to stop water damage before it starts.

What Our Customers Are Saying

Melisa did such a great job and was so professional and nice. It really helped with the issues I was dealing with. Thanks Again!

- Janell, Waconia

Thank you for everything. You have been more than accommodating to me throughout this nightmare. I couldn’t be more pleased with the final outcome.

- Laura, Woodville, WI

I just can’t thank you enough for making our “water damage ordeal” go away so quickly. Your ability to organize subcontractors and the ICC crews is truly amazing, Mom and I are delighted to be back and settled into our little casa. Your genuine warmth and caring are truly gifts that you bring to your work. You are so appreciated!

- Jane, Stillwater

Thank you for sending Jake to my home. He was the most respectful young man I have ever met. He left my home very clean and he was very knowledgeable.

- Carolyn, White Bear Lake

The project manager did a great job communicating. He was so nice and did a great job checking in with us. Working with ICC was the best part of the flood. The crews really went out of their way to make sure we were well taken care of. The job could not have gone better.

- Nick & Abbie, Chanhassen

I don’t think your company performed work at Derek’s home as there was minimal damage, he called me today and thanked me profusely for referring ICC to him. He was very impressed with the rep that came to his house and the honesty and helpful advice he gave him about clean up and that it may not be in his best interest to file a claim. He is the type of customer that appreciates good service and will remember it and refer others. Thanks again for ICC’s help.

- Kimberley (Insurance Agent)

Thank you for such AMAZING service!

- Barbara (Insurance Agent), Rochester

ICC turned a really bad experience into a good one. We are very happy with all of the work that was done. They did a great job explaining the claims process.

- Linda, Oakdale

The crews were very professional and communicated well. They were great also about cleaning up after themselves. We would use ICC again. The crews were always on top of the process, which allowed the repairs to go smoothly.

- Church Representative, Edina

Erick did an excellent job explaining the process. We thought that everyone was very professional. They explained everything very well and followed through with everything. Communication could not have been better. I am very happy with my services.

- Gary, Osceola, WI

Our project manager was great to work with; he explained things well and answered all of our questions. Our coordinator also did a good job. Working with ICC was easy. Communication was wonderful and the crews were very professional. We would use ICC again in a heartbeat.

- Angie & Fran, Hudson, WI

The lead technician was great and explained things over the phone very well. I was very impressed. The crews were better than expected and very professional. ICC was extremely responsive; I was out of state and was so impressed with how they kept me informed.

- Jim & Cheryl, Victoria

I was very happy with all the crews at ICC. I had great experience and would not hesitate to work with ICC again should the need arise. Everyone there really knows what they are doing.

- Jerry, Cottage Grove

Dealing with the fire was a very upsetting time. ICC was able to get out to my home quickly and really helped reassure me that everything would be fine. ICC worked very well with my insurance company. I could not have been happier with the whole process. I know I asked a ton of questions and Mark was great about answering them all.

- Karen, St. Croix Falls, WI

The crews were always on time for their appointments. Our job went very well. I am so thankful for everyone at ICC and the excellent work they did.

- Michelle, Shoreview

Everyone I dealt with was just great. My project could not have gone better. Everyone at ICC is professional and is excellent at communicating. I would use ICC again and will be recommending them.

- Connie, Edina

The technicians did a fantastic job. Everyone really cared about me and my concerns. They were extremely knowledgeable, compassionate, and knew how to make me feel comfortable. ICC was amazing to work with.

- Kevin, Maple Grove

ICC was terrific to work with and I will be recommending them. I had an excellent experience.

- Patricia, Hudson, WI

The technicians were extremely detailed. I immediately felt like I was in great hands. They were also very calming, always on time and communicated well.

- Sally, Excelsior

The technicians were very good at explaining what was going to take place. They answered all of my questions in great detail. Everyone was very sympathetic to my situation and genuinely cared.

- Anita, St. Anthony

Our project manager payed great attention to detail and had excellent customer service. He was very compassionate and really cared about what we were going through. ICC was wonderful to work with. The crews were very professional and thorough.

- Brian & Jill, Woodbury

I was very pleased with the whole process. Everything went so much smoother than I expected. ICC really helped make it easy.

- Jackie, Woodbury

The crews were very professional and communicated very well. They responded very quickly to our phone calls and always made sure we knew what was going on.

- Robert, Maplewood

Thank you for the wonderful inspection findings and THANK YOU for your professionalism. So much appreciated.

- Carol, Burnsville

My project manager did a great job and was really nice to work with. My coordinator did a great job keeping me informed about the process as well. ICC was wonderful to work with; they were all very professional and treated my home well. The quality of the work done was impressive and I would definitely use them again.

- Paul, Maplewood

I was impressed by the short time it took for the clean up crew to make arrangements to meet me even though we were outside of the metro area.

- Karen, Osceola, WI

Contact Us

Toll-Free: 888-739-4289

451 Commerce Dr., Suite 800,
Woodbury, MN 55125
651-739-4289

4481 N Frontage Rd.,
Hwy 14 West Unit 9,
Rochester, MN 55901
507-206-2348

MN LIC #BC316232,
WI LIC #1042030

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