Depending on the terms of your homeowner's insurance policy, your policy may cover some of the cost to repair water damage caused by a covered peril.
Regardless of your coverage, water damage from flooding or any other unexpected event in your home can make you want to panic. To make it less stressful, follow our tips on what to do when you find the effects of excess water in your home.
Stop the Water at the Source
Sometimes you can't help unexpected events, like natural disasters, from causing flooding and damage to your home, but water damage from other sources can often be dealt with before they cause extensive issues.
Start by investigating where the source of the water damage may be located. Look for plumbing leaks, roof leaks, washer hose leaks or even damaged caulking that's letting water leak in.
If the source is a plumbing leak, turn off your water by locating your water shutoff valve.
The location of your water shutoff valve will vary. To locate your shutoff valves try looking in the utility room, basement, or where the main water pipe enters your home.
Once you turn off your water, you may temporarily repair the leak if it is a pipe leak by:
Wiping the area dry and applying epoxy to the leaking area
Then covering the leak with a rubber patch
After an hour, using water resistant tape to cover the entire area, and
Calling a licensed plumber to permanently fix the leak.
If the source of water is a roof leak, window leak or any major leak where water is entering the home from the exterior, cover the leak with water resistant material, like a tarp, dry the area and ventilate it until you can have a professional make the proper repairs.
Figure Out if Your Water Source is Polluted
If your water damage came from a source like your dishwasher or fresh water line, you do not need to be concerned with potentially polluted water. However, if your water came from a sewage backup, an overflowing toilet, or from a natural disaster, the water causing havoc in your home is likely contaminated.
Polluted water means your clean up and restoration process may be more extensive and you may need to dispose of certain belongings in your home if they're damaged by the contaminated water.
Notify Your Insurance Company
After you've stopped the water at its source, or in the case of a natural disaster when you need help after the event, call your insurance company to report the incident and damage.
5 Tips to Help Prevent Water Damage In Your Home
Although you can't prevent natural disasters from coming your way, the best tip for handling water damage in your home is to prevent it before it ever starts.
1. Inspect Your Washing Machine Regularly
Your washer hoses are designed to handle large water loads frequently, but over time they can wear out. Inspect the hoses regularly and look for surface cracking as well as leaks where the hoses connect to your water supply.
2. Inspect Your Toilet Regularly
Two to three times a year, inspect your toilet to make sure it's not leaking and that it's functioning properly. Make sure that you only put waste like toilet paper down your toilet to prevent potential issues.
3. Keep Your Gutters and Downspouts Clear
Water running off your roof and down your spouts could potentially cause damage to your home and foundation if it isn't draining away properly. Make sure to clean your gutters and downspouts of debris regularly as a part of seasonal home maintenance and that they are draining water away from your home.
4. Check Your Basement or Crawl Space Regularly
Check under your home for standing water or excess moisture by removing a piece of the skirting and looking underneath your home. Signs of too much moisture or leaks include standing water or mildew under your home.
Excess moisture could result from plumbing leaks, inadequate ventilation under your home or other causes. It could mean you need to repair a tear in your bottom board, which is also called the underbelly.
Too much moisture could cause foul smells, warping in your flooring, shifting in your flooring or even damage to the insulation under your home if there is a tear in your bottom board. It can be dangerous to crawl underneath your home without a helper to wait outside and make sure you exit safely. A professional should be consulted before making more than very minor repairs to the wrap.
5. Get Your Roof Checked Regularly
Making sure that your roofing, whether you have metal roofing material or asphalt shingles, remains in good shape is a key way to prevent potential water damage.
Have a roofing professional inspect your home twice a year or after major storms to verify the condition of your roof and perform any necessary maintenance on your roofing system. Climbing on your roof can be dangerous and is a job best left to professional roofers.
We hope that these water damage prevention tips help you keep your home in great shape. We want to help you preserve your home so you can enjoy it for years to come. When life's unexpected events do occur, call your homeowner's insurance agent for help.