If you can master a few basic plumbing tips and tricks, you will be surprised to find out how you can greatly reduce damage and destruction to your home from a plumbing disaster. The trouble with home plumbing problems is that they have a way of sneaking up on you and most often at the worst possible time.

Here are the top 5 home plumbing tips that will help you prevent your next plumbing disaster:

1. Be on the look-out for water leaks

Small water leaks can and often lead to much larger water leaks. Be alert to signs that more issues could be on the way. Leaking faucets, damp cabinets, rocking toilets or dripping refrigerators are all symptoms that require fast and corrective action.

2. Repair any issues as soon as you find them

A leaking faucet isn’t just annoying, the moisture puts wear on sink fixtures and allows mold and mildew to grow. Another way to spot a plumbing leak is to pull your refrigerator away from the wall at least once a month. If you see water, you may have a leaking icemaker. Also, small puddles could be worse than larger ones, as this can indicate that water is soaking into your floor.

3. Know how to react to overflows

If water is gushing from your sink, toilet or anywhere else, locate your home’s main shut-off valve for the water supply. If it’s in a dark, hidden or hard-to-reach place, gather any tools you’ll need for a quick shut off and store them nearby. There is nothing like the frustration of a missing flashlight or a misplaced shut-off key when water is pouring out of a broken pipe.

Helpful tip: Know where your plumbing shut-off valve is located before something happens. Learning how to shut off your home’s water in an emergency can avoid costly water damage, plus save you money and a ton of aggravation.

4. Know where your water shut off is located for your appliances

You should also know how to shut off the water to individual sinks, toilets, washing machines and other water-using appliances. Knowing how to shut off the water supply when there’s a problem can reduce the potential damage and destruction as well as take some of the pain out of your cleanup efforts.

5. Know what kind of pipe material you have

Know what material was used in constructing your pipes. If your home was built before 1970, you may have galvanized iron pipes that can eventually rust and corrode, causing the water pressure to drop and a brown tint to appear. When this happens, the pipes must be replaced by an experienced plumbing specialist.