Home Insurance

Water Damage in Your Home – How to Stop and Prevent It

When you think of residential damage, a house fire is probably the first thing that comes to your mind. However, water damage can be just as disastrous and extensive, as water takes time to dry, and even then you cannot rebuild the house right away. Effectively stopping water damage from occurring by timely prevention is the best way to protect your home. 

Sources of water damage

The tricky thing about water damage is that both a pinhole leak and a hurricane can have an equally devastating effect. In the case of a natural disaster, such as a major flood, things are more clear-cut. If the home cannot be saved, you should follow the local authorities’ guidelines and evacuate to higher ground.

Once the danger passes, you can rebuild your home, as there was nothing to little you could have done to prevent such a disastrous course of events. However, if there is a problem with residential plumbing, then a flood can be prevented.

The most usual sources of water problems ate clogged-up gutters, leaky pipes, pipes that suddenly burst (but could have been previously leaking), poorly graded soil, etc. All of the issues listed are easily preventable if you spot the problem in time to act.

An economic disaster and the importance of insurance

Apart from endangering lives, livelihoods, and destroying property, water damage is a real economic issue. In Australia alone, water damage claims have nearly doubled over the course of the previous decades and are more than 30,000 dollars on average. This is a huge blow to individuals, insurance companies, and local and national governments.

A flood in your home impacts the home budget in a way that you might need to take out a loan to repair the damage; that’s how costly it may be. For folks whose insurance doesn’t cover the extent of the damage, the financial toll is even greater.

When insuring your property, read the contract carefully and enquire whether the insurance policy covers all forms of residential water damage. The policy should clearly state whether a natural disaster such as a river flood or a hurricane is covered.

Preventing water damage

Home insurance is a great thing to have after flooding occurs but you should really look to avoid this scenario. Namely, there are so many things you can do to stop structural water damage from ever occurring. In fact, most of the preventive measures consist of simple inspection that you need to carry out once a year. A simple peak on the roof or comparing water bills will help you avoid the worst-case scenario.

Cleaning the gutters is no child’s play

One such inspection includes checking if the gutters are clear. They might not look as much but the gutters on the roof direct all the rainwater and melting snow away from your home.

By sending the water down the drain and into the sewage pipes below, gutters are the first line of defense against water getting inside the house or even worse, into the structure’s foundations. Ideally, gutters should be checked twice annually but the one mandatory check should be scheduled before winter begins.

This is the period of the year when gutters are most certainly full of twigs, dead leaves, branches, and even toys such as Frisbees and footballs. In Australia, this period is known for thunderstorms and strong winds that send debris flying high in the air. 

Inspecting and cleaning the gutters is fairly easy but it’s no child’s play, as you need to be careful not to fall from height. Always make sure that the ladders are placed on firm and even ground.

Furthermore, never lean too far out, as you might fall. Go down the ladder, move it to the side and then continue the clearing process using hands (with gloves on) or a rake.

Detecting and fixing plumbing issues early on

As stated earlier, a pinhole crack in the pipes can lead to a flood unless addressed right away. When a crack appears in a pipe that is located outside or it lacks insulation, it can easily burst when exposed to differences in temperature during the day and night.

In some parts of the country, such as the capital of Canberra, diurnal air temperature variations are over 27° Centigrade in January. Your residential plumbing in Canberra should be serviced by a plumber who offers 24/7 emergency service.

Of course, don’t call them only when there is a problem, as regular inspections by professionals could reveal potential issues you failed to notice.

Namely, some pipes are hard to reach unless you have the proper set of tools for the job; a plumber wrench isn’t called so without a reason. A crack in the pipes should be ignored, as it expands over time, constantly exposed to water under pressure.

Draining the drains

The gutters and downspouts are connected to the rain outside the house but what about the kitchen or the bathroom drain? These are your responsibility to maintain, as you’re the one who needs to keep the water flowing.

Simply look for leaks under the sink and if necessary repair P-traps. If repairing P-traps proves too difficult, then replace them altogether, the spare parts are cheap and easy to find. Ideally, the fix and the inspection shouldn’t take you more than half an hour.

Furthermore, you can prevent water damage by not pouring grease or oil down the sink drain. When washing the sink, drain the drains as well using a drainpipe cleaner that unclogs pipes instantly.

The kitchen sink, the sink in the bathroom, and the shower drain should all feature a metal or plastic strainer. Not only does it trap various debris from eggshells to hair but it easer the cleaning procedure.

Finally, ensure that the bathtub’s overflow drain is fully functional and that there are no leaks. Since you don’t use it often (or ever), there is a solid chance the metal corroded.

Weak spots on the roof

As you already know, your home’s roof is a possible source of water damage. The most vulnerable sections of the roof are various openings, from chimneys, across air vents, to skylights. Since tiles and shingles have to be arranged differently and caulked around these fixtures, they are more exposed to the elements.

If you notice a leak in the attic, you can be sure that the chimney or the skylight is to blame. Moreover, loose bricks are a clear indicator that the roof is no longer watertight. In most cases, the chimney cap is to place, so you’ll have to reinstall it or buy a new one altogether.

The metal flashing around the chimney should be installed by professional roofers and inspected by them as well. The untrained eye of a layman cannot detect whether water is passing between the chimney and the flashing.

The upkeep of the sump pump

If there is a basement waterproofing system in your home, then you have a sump pump that has to operate without a hitch. You needn’t be a technician to achieve this, as the pump’s electrical outlet should be operational and you need to confirm that the pump turns on and moves water when necessary.

The sump pump is your home’s last line of defense against a major residential flood, so make sure it’s fully operational. When groundwater levels rise (varying in different parts of Australia), the buoyant float starts the electrically-connected motor and the pump takes the water away from your home.

A catastrophic failure of the sump pump means that water will overflow the sump pit, causing extensive water damage to the basement and the structure’s foundations. Be careful not to tilt the buoyant pump, as it needs to be in the upright position. 

(Never) getting rid of mold and mildew

The biggest issue with a home flood is the fact that water lingers for a while before it flows away. Even after water levels drop, the whole place has to dry for months, which can be problematic in humid parts of the country (Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, etc.) or during winter.

Unless aired, mold and mildew will start forming inside the home, accumulating on walls, the ceiling, the furniture, etc. You can scrub moldy bathroom tiles all you wish but mold won’t go away that easily. The best remedy is to air the house or apartment after the slightest of floods.

The most efficient way to stop water damage is to inspect the home for leaks. There is little you can do in the case of a typhoon striking your home but preventive actions listed above will save your home from dangers within.

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