Preventing Water Damage in your Home

/ By Cowan Insurance Group

Water damage is one of the most common home insurance claims and can include leaks in plumbing, broken pipes, overland flooding, or backed-up sewers. Luckily, most of this damage can be reduced or prevented altogether. There are a few simple water damage prevention best practices you can follow to protect yourself and avoid water damage and unnecessary home insurance claims.

Preventing water damage inside your home

Water damage inside your home can occur from several sources, including appliances and fixtures. This damage can lead to even more expensive issues like mould, termites and ants, and structural damage when left unchecked.

  • Check the hoses in your washing machines for cracks when you do laundry
    • If you find any signs of damage, wear, or bulging, you should replace them immediately with a high-pressure stainless-steel braided hose, as they last longer and are less likely to swell or burst under pressure
    • Even if your hoses appear to be in good shape, it’s a good idea to replace them every five years; at around $20, it’s an inexpensive way to ward off costly problems
  • Regularly examine the floor near your water heater for signs of leakage and hire a licenced technician to periodically do inspections and replace your water heater every ten years; having a water heater that is too old can lead to denial of water damage claims by your insurer
  • Inspect your refrigerator, dishwasher, and taps for leaks and crimps, focusing on the areas most likely to leak, like door seals, intakes, and drains; you can consult your appliance owner’s manual to locate these parts on your model
  • Place a bucket under your kitchen sink to catch small leaks before they become a more significant issue, and call a plumber as soon as possible if a leak occurs
  • Keep all floor drains clear and free from obstructions
  • Leaks are frequently traced to cracks in your home’s foundation so take extra care to inspect your basement and foundation, as this is a common area where damage occurs. While minor cracks are generally not concerning, significant gaps should be filled in and stopped from spreading as soon as possible to prevent any issues

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Sump pumps

Many homes are equipped with sump pumps in their basement as an additional water damage prevention tool, collecting water and pumping it outside and away from your home. Sump pumps are activated by a float switch that turns on the pump once the water reaches a certain level. You can also install a battery backup to start in response to water levels, even if your power goes out.

To test your sump pump and make sure it is working effectively, begin by slowly pouring water into the tank. Once the float rises, the pump should activate and shut off again once the water lowers. Be sure to check it regularly for build-up and clean out any sediment to prevent clogging.

Preventing water damage outside your home

Some sources of water damage to your home can come from outside. Here are some tips to minimize damage to your home caused by water from outdoors.

  • In the fall, drain all outside pipes and garden hoses to prevent freezing in the colder months
  • Make sure all storm grates are unobstructed by leaves and other debris
  • Disconnect downspouts draining directly into the sewer system; try to redirect them a minimum of six feet away from your home’s foundation and test downspouts to ensure proper roof drainage
  • Ensure your lot is graded so that water drains away from your home and not towards it
  • Inspect your roof for loose or damaged shingles, especially after storms or days with high winds
  • If your home is equipped with a septic system, have it serviced regularly by a professional

By taking the time to perform these tasks proactively, you can save yourself money and the headaches of water damage.

Ensure your home insurance policy covers water damage

Home insurance policies cover a wide variety of potential damage to your home and personal property. Depending on your policy, flooding or water damage may also be covered. Choosing the right home insurance coverage is crucial to ensure your home and belongings are protected.

We recommend that you review your home insurance policy coverage specifics; your broker can provide you with more tips for proactively preventing claims on your property.


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