An Ounce of Cure – Water Damage Prevention

Water damage in your home is a fact of life.  It cannot be wholly prevented; even if you can anticipate every pipe that might leak or burst in your home, should Mother Nature decide to target you with a flash flood three or four feet high, the best you can do is hope for the best.  In some form or another, every homeowner will have to deal with water damage, on some level, at some point.

broken toilet overflow image

A $5 toilet valve can cause thousands of dollars in water damage

What every homeowner can do though, is take steps to at least minimize the damage.  Start by looking around your home for anything that may result in an unexpected leak.  Worn pipes, misaligned hoses, faucets that won’t quite shut off, worn out weather stripping or cracked windows……anything that will allow water to get in.  Remember, even the smallest leak can become a lake if allowed to go unnoticed long enough. Keep in mind that insurance companies cover “sudden and accidental” losses and adjusters can push back if a small leak or issue can be thought of as being pre-existing but ignored resulting in something much larger over time. As a homeowner you have an obligation to your insurance company to take care of those small issues before they become large and expensive water damage problems.

By making small repairs as the problems occur, you can cut down on the instances of home grown water damage.  Dealing with Mother Nature, however, becomes a much different story.

Not much can turn back a severe storm or flood, but again, you can take steps to minimize the damage.  First of all, check your roof for missing shingles, worn out flashing, or worse, actual holes.  If you find anything, repair it promptly.  These problems will not get better on their own; quite the contrary, they will only get worse, and more expensive, over time.

Reduce the chance of water damage

Check gutters and downspouts, making sure they are free and unclogged, and that they properly channel water away from your home.  Gutter guards can be used to prevent leaves and other debris from gumming up the works. Check where the gutter meets the stucco on the side of your home, some times builders take short cuts and leave a gaping hole rather than adding stucco where the gutter meets the wall.

Mold growing from water damage

Water damage not dried out results in more costly mold damage

Evaluate your landscaping, making sure it slopes away from your home.  In severe weather, the ground will eventually become saturated, and being unable to hold any more water, that excess has to go somewhere.  In the opposite direction away from your foundation is preferable.

If you live in a flood prone area, you should also pay a visit to your local emergency management, where you can get information on the flood history in your area.  This can give you an idea of how much water you can expect to come into your home in a worst case scenario.  This could also prompt you to purchase flood insurance, which covers you when ground water enters your home or business. Remember regular homeowners insurance only covers mishaps that originate from inside your home.

Armed with that knowledge, you can take steps to cut down on the carnage, such as removing valuables to a higher place in your home.  If your appliances are located in your basement (as they so often are), look at elevating them, even a few inches can protect them from flood water damage in most cases. Place them on cinder blocks.

It may cost a bit, but you can also reposition power outlets and electrical boxes a few inches or even a foot higher on your wall.  Similar arrangements can be made for your HVAC system, which may also be severely damaged in the event of a flood.

Of course you can always contact your local IICRC certified water damage professional.  In addition to cleaning up water damage, they can also inspect your property and make suggestions for changes or improvements designed to keep the elements at bay.

About Dan Camara

Dan Camara is the CEO of PuroClean Home Rescue in Sacramento. We have been helping the good folks of Northern California with water damage dryouts, mold removal and fire cleanups for nearly 5 years now. Connect with me on Google+
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