Each year, 1 of every 50 insured homeowners in the United States files a house water damage claim with their insurance company. Some of those claims are for clean water damage, which is caused by leaking plumbing pipes. Another common cause of this water damage is rainwater. With the spring rainy season already in full swing, your home could be the weather’s next target. Don’t get mad at Mother Nature. Instead, learn more about how to protect your home from water damage.
Due to its location, the basement is at highest risk for water damage. Soil surrounds your foundation on all sides. Without proper drainage, rainwater collects near the foundation, so you could end up with seeping water and potential for flooding.
Start with an inspection of the exterior foundation. Next, inspect basement walls and floors. If you find foundation cracks, fill them with epoxy. Install window well covers on any below-grade windows and make sure the covers fasten securely to the foundation.
Now is a good time to go over your homeowner’s insurance policy because not all policies cover flooding. If you have a finished basement, consider adding flood coverage.
Add another layer of defense and install a sump pump in the basement at the lowest point. The pump removes water and excess moisture by drawing water through a trap. The water is then removed and directed outside through a discharge pipe.
Sump pumps are usually required if you add flood insurance to your insurance policy. They also need routine maintenance and testing twice a year. The times you need it most is both during and after it rains. Ensure your sump pump is working when you need it, and keep it connected to a battery back-up system.
Roof leaks are another common cause of interior water damage. By the time you notice an active roof leak, it’s been there for quite a while and had time to cause some serious problems.
Inspect your roof before and after the winter season. If you notice cracked or missing shingles get them replaced, and don’t forget the flashings. Make sure they fit tightly around chimneys, wall or roof junctions, and vents.
Inside your home look for dark spots on the ceiling. Sometimes peeling paint close to roof overhangs indicates a leak. If you can’t get up on a ladder and visualize your roof, call a roofing contractor and have them do a full inspection. Since the roof and gutter work together, include a gutter inspection when you inspect the roof.
Remove leaves and other debris from gutters. Check your downspouts and remove any blockage. Make sure you position gutters so that water flows away from your foundation. For even more protection against water damage, install gutter guards. They prevent clogged gutters and help prevent water from accumulating on the roof.
It’s not uncommon for a homeowner to remain unaware of a pipe leak for days, sometimes weeks. Unless the pipe in your kitchen or bathroom sink springs a leak, you may not even see your other plumbing pipes. For homeowners with finished basements, most plumbing is tucked behind walls or ceilings.
It’s up to you to inspect any exposed pipes for cracks and leaks. Don’t ignore wet spots on ceilings or walls. Ignoring evidence of water damage could result in mold or structural damage.
If you have homeowner’s insurance you’re covered for water damage from burst or leaking pipes. But you risk losing coverage for the repairs if the insurance company determines the damage is a result of lack of maintenance.
Do you know where the main water shut-off valve is in your home? If not, take time right now and find it so you may be able to prevent a plumbing disaster. Knowing how to shut off the main water saves time and can save your home from water damage.
The shut-off valve is usually located near your home’s perimeter. It’s either on the ground floor or the basement. You should also know where the shut-off valves are for your plumbing fixtures. Take a minute and find the valve for your toilets, sinks, and washing machine.
Speaking about washing machines, you may not realize that the hoses don’t last forever. Once they wear out they get brittle and leaky, which puts you at risk for house water damage. If your machine came with standard rubber hoses, buy stainless steel-braided hoses when you replace them. They’re the minimum standard hose for indoor use.
For a few dollars more why not invest in auto-shutoff hoses? If you have a hose failure, there’s a connector at the end of the hose that senses a change in water pressure. It stops water flow immediately. Spend the money for quality hoses and buy yourself a little peace of mind.