Why is preventing water damage so important?
Water damage can happen at any time and can originate from many sources, including leaky bathrooms, plumbing, rainwater, from leaky roofs or windows, faulty washing machine hoses, and frozen pipes. By taking a little time to read this letter, you can learn techniques to help you prevent water damage from happening. And should water damage occur, we’ve included some steps you can take within the first few hours to help you and your family avoid injury and limit losses.
The Cost of Water Damage
Each year water damage costs homeowners billions of dollars. These water claims are directly affecting insurance rates as hundreds of Adams Agency clients submit water claims annually. What is even more unsettling is the large number of valuable household items that could have been saved or restored. That’s why prevention is so important. Of course we can’t guarantee that you’ll never experience water damage. But knowing the facts about preventing damage may help protect your home in the future.
Protecting the inside of your home
Bathrooms are highly susceptible to water damage because of the number of pipes and water sources that feed into them. That’s why it is important to turn off the water supply to all toilets, faucets and bathtubs before you leave for an extended period of time. Regular inspections by a professional plumber will help to guard against leakage. Never flush foreign objects down the toilet – this could result in clogs or an overflow. If your toilet is running, jiggle the handle or lift the floating ball inside the tank to stop it. If your toilet clogs, locate and immediately shut off its water supply source and try using a plunger to help unclog the trapway. If a plunger does not alleviate the clog, or if you are in doubt, contact a professional plumber.
At least once a year, it’s a good idea to inspect and replace all worn fittings and hose connections to household appliances that use water (including washing machines, dishwashers, kitchen/bathroom sinks, toilets, icemakers, water softeners and humidifiers). In case of an emergency, make sure you know the location of all water shut-off valves. And unless repairs are minor, it’s best to have only a professional plumber inspect and repair leaky pipes.
You don’t realize how much you depend on your appliances until they aren’t working properly. Regular maintenance and service not only keeps appliances running smoothly, it also helps reduce the risk of experiencing water damage.
Washing Machine: Make sure that both the fill valve and the vacuum line are free of debris, and replace the hose every five years to guard against deterioration that can cause a burst or leakage. Never leave your washing machine running when you aren’t home. When you are away from home for extended periods of time, be sure to shut off the water supply to your washing machine.
Dishwasher & Icemaker: Have your dishwasher serviced every five years. This ensures that valves remain free of the debris and mineral deposits that can lead to clogs or leaks. Also, never leave your dishwasher running when you aren’t home. Inspect your icemaker line for cracks. Inflexibility or color changes in the plastic of the line could lead to a potential burst or signal the onset of cracks.
Water Heater/Air Conditioner: Make sure your overflow hose is properly connected and drains to the exterior of your home, and inspect fittings and connections on the water discharge lines. Also, check water filter lines for inflexibility or cracks that could lead to leakage.
Protecting the outside of your home:
Preventing water from damaging your home from the outside is just as important as protecting your home on the inside. Why? Because water can penetrate the exterior of your home in a number of ways. That’s why maintaining a regular maintenance schedule to help keep water from damaging your home is so important.
Your roof: Your roof is "out of sight and out of mind" - so it's easy to forget - until you have unsightly water damage from a leak. Defend your home by stopping that leak before it starts. Corrosion or deterioration of your roof, wind or hail damage or improper installation of vents, flues, chimneys, air conditioners, evaporative coolers or condensers can all result in roof leaks. Be sure to check your roof annually for signs of deterioration (such as broken, cracked or missing shingles or cracks in the actual roof. Seal metal roofs with a good commercial manufactured home roof coating at least every other year - more often in some climates.
Windows & Walls: Periodically clean, caulk and paint your exterior walls to prevent water penetration. Caulk and seal windows regularly to prevent water seepage.
What if I “do” have water damage?
Once you have ensured that you and your family are not in danger, it is imperative to begin the clean-up process as soon as possible. The longer your home and its belongings remain wet, the greater the chance that the damage will become permanent.
The most important step in the clean-up process is, whenever possible, to stop the source of the water. Once the source of the water has been identified and is under control, begin the process of removing as much water as possible from your home by wet vac, mopping or blotting the affected areas. Protect your property from further damage with temporary, reasonable and necessary repairs, like plywood or plastic covers over roof or wall openings, if applicable. Also, if necessary call an emergency water extracting company for fast and professional assistance!
Air circulation within the first few hours after a water loss is an important factor in helping water-damaged materials to dry. It is important to increase airflow to the damaged area as much as possible during this timeframe. You can accomplish this by running fans in the areas affected by water damage. Air moisture content is another important drying factor. If the water damage occurs during a cool season, leave your heat on; if it happens in the summer, run your air conditioner and, if possible, a dehumidifier. Your goal is to try to stabilize the air temperature at about 70f.
Drying Furniture, Fabrics & Carpet
These items are especially sensitive to water damage. That’s why it is important to dry these items to the best of your ability as soon as possible. Also, if necessary call an emergency water extracting company for fast and professional assistance!
Things to avoid:
To ensure the safety of you and your family during the clean-up process, and to help prevent any further damage, it is important to pay attention to the following points:
- Only use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to remove water
- Never use electrical appliances while standing on wet carpet or wet floors.
- If the electricity is still on, do not enter rooms where standing water is present.
- Refrain from lifting tacked-down carpet without professional help. Incorrect removal of such carpet could promote shrinkage and exacerbate the water damage.
If you leave for the summer or for an extended period of time please note the following:
SHUT OFF WATER AT OUTSIDE CONNECTION- Also, consider installing a second shutoff valve for the inside of the home only
- DO NOT LEAVE FAUCETS OPEN
- DO NOT BLOCK OR COVER YOUR DRAINSDO NOT PLACE CONTAINERS OF WATER IN KITCHEN OR LEAVE WATER IN THE BATHTUB (old wive’s tales)
- CONSIDER PURCHASING A LEAK DETECTION SYSTEM THAT WILL EITHER SOUND AN ALARM OR SHUT OFF YOUR WATER OR THE WATER TO AN APPLIANCE IF A LEAK OCCURS
- SECURE A CARETAKER TO WATCH YOUR PROPERTY WHILE YOU ARE AWAY