Residential Water Damage, Be Proactive
Water is used and useful in our homes, providing hydration for our family, friends, and pets, and also assisting with household tasks like cleaning, laundry, and food and beverage preparation and cleanup. Personal care would be impossible without tubs, showers, and sinks. Many homes also use water-supported heating and cooling systems, and outdoor areas benefit from sprinkling.
External forces such as floods, storms, and aging municipal infrastructures can threaten homes with unwanted water incursion. Inside, if water migrates away from the pipes, hoses, radiators, appliances, tubs, and sinks, severe consequences to the structure and contents of homes follow.
Insurance statistics show water damage to be second on the list of claims made overall losses. At one time or another, 37 percent of homeowners find themselves asking for loss coverage from their insurance carrier. Because water damage can be such a common occurrence, putting together a plan together to prevent the damage from happening at your home is an excellent decision. Even if some water damage is unavoidable, preparing for the devastation water brings can minimize its effects. The following are common sense strategies to prevent or limit water damage in your house.
- Your roof, gutter, and downspout systems are the first line of defense, keeping water from storms and even just gentle drizzles from entering your home and foundation.
- Clean gutters and downspouts regularly, at least twice yearly. Make sure they are correctly attached and replace damaged parts. Attention after the autumn leaves fall is critical. In many areas of the country spring tree flowering and seed dispersal clog both gutters and drains, requiring cleaning.
- Inspections after heavy rains or other precipitation make sense. Twigs, branches, and granular debris from the roof are another common cause of gutter system fails. The roof itself needs to be evaluated periodically.
- After storms or just high winds, flashings and shingles can dislodge. Tiny leaks in a roof become significant water problems in your home over time.
- Landscaping is great and beautiful. If done improperly it can send water flowing into your home. The ground around your home must slant away from the foundation, avoiding pooling of water that invades basements, crawl spaces, or slabs. Trees and bushes planted should be chosen and positioned to avoid sending roots into utility pipes.
- Gardens and plantings near the structure of your home should not drip or deposit water into the lower levels or the siding of the building.
- Faucets, hoses and sprinkler systems need regular evaluation for leaks that can saturate the soil next to the foundation. In the cooler months, the faucet needs winterized to avoid a freeze-up that can burst pipes inside the home as water in the pipe expands in below freezing temperature. Take care to water judiciously, and maintain and monitor automatic sprinkler systems so that they do not over water or direct their spray against buildings.
- Locate and educate yourself on how to turn off the main water source in your home. Also find the shutoffs near sinks, water heaters, showers, and appliances, so a minor overflow does not become a flood.
- Everyone has Appliances in there home. Monitor the hoses and connections on appliances that use or produce water regularly. Drip pans and drains beneath and around freezers, refrigerators, and air conditioning units and venting all have the potential to collect and spill water, often in a hidden area. Replace hoses regularly and check drains within appliances like dish and clothes washers to make sure a leak or burst pipe does not surprise you.
- Take care of small leaks promptly before significant problems follow. If the repair is beyond your skills, arrange for a professional to help. The minor cost to fix a leak early is much more manageable than major water damage restoration later.
- Do not ignore small leaks and loose connections. If you do not spot a leak, there are other ways to discover hidden water loss. Fluctuations in water pressure should be investigated. The problem may be inside your home or in piping entering your home from the public water source.
- Water pressure meters are available, and you can test on an outdoor faucet. Low pressure signals a potential leak and too high pressure can risk breakage of pipes and connections.
- Check and chart your water bill. Seasonal changes are to be expected, and adding or subtracting inhabitants using water also cause the bill to change. If you note a jump in water cost that cannot be otherwise accounted, a hidden leak can be the culprit.