Have you ever noticed a brown spot on your ceiling that seems to grow larger every day? Or come across a puddle of water somewhere in your basement? If your answer is yes, you’ve been victim to water damage in your home. It’s very important to make sure that you’re aware of what kind of water damage your property policy insures, because not all types are covered. So, how do you know the difference? Here are some tips to get you started.
There are two main types of water damage: exterior and interior.
Exterior water damage
Though leaves are what is most commonly found blocking your gutters, they aren’t the only culprits. You can also find other greenery, like weeds, twigs and pinecones plugging your gutters and preventing water from draining through the downspouts. Even badminton birdies can get lodged and create a blockage. You can sometimes tell if a gutter is blocked if it’s sagging or if there is water running down the side of your house. One of the easiest ways to prevent this from happening is to install gutter guards, which will keep all of the debris away from where it’s not wanted.
Inspect your attic and roof
Roof leaks are very common and as a homeowner, you should remember to inspect both the inside and outside of the attic/roof. In the attic, check for signs that water might be leaking through the roof into the house. You might find wet joists or discolouration from repetitive water leakage. Outside, make sure your shingles are in good condition, and that the flashing surrounding all chimneys is in place and intact. As an extra measure, you can install a weather membrane underneath your shingles that will help protect your home should water sneak in from between the shingles.
Water that runs away from the house
If you walk the perimeter of your home, pay close attention to where the ground meets the house. Does your lawn or driveway slope down towards the house, is it fairly level, or is there even a slight incline or upward curve before connecting to the exterior wall of the house? If you find that the ground slopes towards the house, this could present a big problem in the event of heavy rainfall or a significant snowmelt. This will cause the water to pool against the exterior of your home, and if there are any cracks in your foundation, water will find its way there. It always does. One good tip is to relocate and/or lengthen the mouth of your downspout; this way, all water that collects in your now-shielded gutters will be led away from the house. A commonly suggested length is 4-6 feet, however, if you would prefer to have the water be led as far as out to the street, you would then need to install an underground drainage system/downspout extension, which requires more work and higher cost, but the end results would be even better. Another good preventative measure is to make sure that your weeping tiles are in good condition so that they are doing their jobs: draining underground water away from your house.
Interior Water Damage
Take good care of your pipes
Some plumbers suggest that you should have the pipes in your home professionally inspected once a year, and any maintenance or repairs should be taken care of as soon as possible. It is well worth the investment of bringing in the professionals, as even a small leak can lead to mold, mildew, and rotten wood issues (which can then spiral into even larger problems). If you know that you will be away from your home for longer than a few days, keeping your home (and pipes) at a reasonable temperature – around 10 degrees Celsius – is very important. Warm water must be able to circulate through pipes to prevent them from freezing and possibly bursting. If your property will be unoccupied for longer than a week, it might be best to turn off the water altogether. In fact, this may be a requirement of your insurance company (when you’re away) and you may need to have someone visit the home every 48-72 hours to comply with their rules. Another popular tip is to wrap exposed pipes with insulation tubes (they look like thinner pool noodles) to maintain the flow of warm water.
Know where your main water shut off valve is
Not only will this help with turning off the water source when being away from your home for an extended period of time as previously mentioned, but this will also benefit you in a situation where water is coming into your home from a broken pipe. Though your first instinct may be to collect the water in a bucket to keep it from ruining your floors or anything else in the surrounding area, shutting off the water altogether will be a faster, and longer lasting solution.
Install a sump pump
Sump pumps are designed to prevent flooding in your basement. They collect any accumulated ground water that would otherwise find its way into your basement and ejects it through a pipe, away from your home. By keeping the underneath of your house dry, it also helps prevent mold and mildew from growing. A sump pump is also an excellent tool to help prevent electrical fires in your home, as these fires can also be caused by flooding, not just shorting of wires, etc.
Check your water bill
This tip might be the easiest of them all. If you pay close attention to your water bill month after month then suddenly notice a spike in the cost, there’s a good chance that there’s a leak somewhere in your home. If everything inside your home seems to be running properly, take a look at outside garden hoses or pipes which may be your culprit.
Water damage is a serious problem for many homeowners. As it is a leading cause of many property claims that cost thousands of dollars to repair, insurance companies will sometimes charge a slightly higher premium for water coverage on your policy. That being said, the added monthly cost will far outweigh the nightmare of having to both pay for and repair the damage yourself should you ever experience a devastating loss in your home due to water.
We’re always a quick phone call, email or chat away to help you with any questions you may have regarding water damage prevention or water coverages on your property policy and are happy to help!