The One Thing You Should Always Have Under Your Sink, According to a Home Inspector

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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

There’s an old proverb that says, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and it could’ve been a certified home inspector who first said it. That’s because regular home maintenance and even annual home inspections can help make your future real estate transactions smoother, and possibly even save you money in the long run. 

The most common repairs that come up when home inspections occur — such as water damage, plumbing issues, or structural problems — can run anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on how long the issue has been there and the specialized work that will need to be done to fix it.

So what’s the one thing you should always have under your sink to prevent or minimize future headaches? An Allen (hex) wrench, says Sean D. Treguboff, owner of Precision Inspection Services based in Los Angeles, California. “We typically have three different sinks in a house: the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, and often a laundry sink,” he says. “Each sink very well may need something that another sink does not need. For example, the kitchen sink should always have an Allen wrench for the garbage disposal in case it gets frozen.” 

Water damage and fire hazards are two of the biggest issues to avoid in your home, of course. So besides an Allen wrench, here’s what else you should keep in mind about keeping your home safe and stress-free. 

Put a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. 

Another item Treguboff recommends homeowners keep on hand is a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. It’s rare that you’ll need it, but experts still recommend keeping one on hand in case of a grease fire, and regularly checking to be sure it’s up to date. While they don’t technically expire, the average lifespan of a disposable extinguisher is around 10 to 12 years. They cost around $50 at Home Depot and are designed for one-time use. 

Alternatively, rechargeable fire extinguishers cost about $20 on Amazon, and should be taken to an experienced fire equipment service company to be inspected and recharged every six years, according to security company First Alert. 

Think ahead about potential water damage. 

Experts agree that most, if not all, costly issues found in a home inspection report have something to do with moisture intrusion or water damage, whether it’s from a leak or a clog from the roof, faucets, or pipes. Water damage costs insurance companies billions of dollars a year, so it makes sense to get smart about installing a water monitor in your home as part of your smart home security system.

A water monitor device, such as Flo by Moen (around $500 plus professional installation) or the Flume 2 Smart Home Water Monitor (around $200 with self-installation) can both be integrated with Amazon’s Alexa and can be managed from your phone while you’re away. 

These devices can not only tell you if there is a leak or flood due to a burst pipe, but can also help you manage your water usage on a regular basis. For a more simple and less expensive option, you might try the Xtreme Mat Water Sensor. This low-cost, loud, and effective water leak alarm can be placed inside any sink base cabinet and is designed to help mitigate damage to your home and your valuables — something you’ll be thankful for in the event of an emergency. 

“I had a pipe burst in my basement while I was visiting friends two hours away,” says Muggs Young, director of product management at home security company ADT. “Some 4,000 gallons flowed through the burst pipe before we were home. If I had a water monitor on my house, I would have been alerted and could have shut off the water sooner with less damage to the house. Instead, our basement was flooded.” 

Young adds that insurance companies are starting to see the benefit of water monitors, and some may cover the cost of the device, cost of installation, or give you a discount if you have one.