Preventing Water Damage in Your Home

June 15, 2014
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One of the biggest problems associated with water damage is that it can go undetected for weeks and even months. Then, when it is discovered, the problems it contributed to, such as rot, mold and mildew will likely require a major repair job. Winter and summer are perhaps the two seasons when home owners should be their most diligent.

Harsh winter weather that causes pipes to freeze and burst is a very real threat. In regions prone to temperatures below freezing, the necessary precautions should always be taken, such as allowing a small drip from faucets, insulating pipes, and keeping a light on in pump houses, to keep them warm.

During the summertime, many parts of the country experience unsettled weather in the form of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and subsequent flooding. Although natural disasters are impossible to prevent, homeowners must always be prepared for the worst. Millions of Americans also take trips during the summer and fail to shut off the home’s main water valve. Returning home to ruined carpet, buckled floors, mold, and mildew is certainly no way to end a vacation! There are a few summer maintenance to-dos that every homeowner should address before kicking back and enjoying their summer.

A recent issue of REALTOR magazine, the official publication of the NAR, explained the simple steps that homeowners can take before water damage gets out of control. Of course, prevention is the key, which is achieved through routine maintenance and repair. According to the National Flood Insurance program, “The average water damage insurance claim between 2008 and 2012 for a worst-case flood totaled more than $38,000.”

Who wants to spend that kind of money for something that could possibly have been prevented? Don’t let it happen to you! Here’s how:

Check Your Home’s Points of Entry

In this case, “points of entry” pertains to anywhere that water caused by precipitation can enter your home. Inspect the roof for missing shingles, structural damage and holes. Any shingles not lying straight and flush should be replaced. Rusty roofing nails can cause shingles to deteriorate and should also be changed.

Check gutters and downspouts to ensure they are not damaged or blocked. Also, notice if they are pitched away from the home’s siding or foundation so they do not cause water to accumulate and create moisture issues.

Inspect windows and doors for cracks, warping, and then repair or replace the problem spots. Seals and weather stripping should also be given the once over. If your home has window wells, keep them free so they’ll drain properly.

Homeowners need to play the role of detective and make a thorough search inside and out for any signs of lingering moisture. Pay attention to: foundations, baseboards, flooring, walls, and any strange odors. Investigate cracks, peeling paint and signs of “blooming” or white haze which would be found on surfaces and is a red flag that moisture is present.

Fortify Your Property

There are a variety of ways to protect your home from water damage. If you know your home is high risk, because of the way the lot drains or because it is situated in a flood-prone area, install sump pumps. They are an effective way to collect water and move it away from your property. Keep in mind, that such a precaution is usually necessary in the aftermath of a storm, when sometimes there’s no electricity, so purchasing a generator is also recommended.

To help the sump pump do its job, French drains installed along the home’s perimeter will also help guide the water away from the property. Another solution is to put interior drain tiles for directing water that gets trapped in the home’s ground level drainage system.

Because boilers and furnaces are often at the lowest levels of the home, they should be elevated so they will be out of harm’s way, should flooding occur. Finally, electronic sensors, weather radios, and alarm systems that detect water and extreme temperatures are synonymous with the adage: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Rethink Your Homeowners Insurance

Since even minor flooding can cause big, expensive headaches, anyone living close to an ocean, pond, lake, river, or even a stream should consider it. What that means is that flood insurance isn’t just for the lucky coastal homeowners!

Should disaster strike, whether it’s in the form of a burst pipe or Category 5 hurricane, have detailed, catalogued, photographic records of the contents of your home.

Be Proactive

If water damage occurs, do not wring your hands and fret. Instead, deal with it asap, and call in professionals if necessary. They know what to do and how to handle such situations quickly. For the REALTOR article, Will Southcombe, who is with the property damage restoration franchise, PuroClean, stated, “Time is your greatest enemy. Bacteria can become activated, resulting in sour smells and contamination. The cost of waiting can be five times greater.”

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