The Main Causes of Water Damage – Knowledge & Prevention

According to Travelers Insurance, 51% of all homeowner claims are due to wind, hail and weather related water damage, while 53% of non-weather water damage claims are related to plumbing issues. Almost 90% of those claims may have been prevented by leak detectors or even basic home maintenance checks. With the average cost of a water damage insurance claim being $7000, it’s crucial for homeowners to be knowledgeable and proactive in identifying and repairing a problem that might result in water damage.

Storms & Rain

When large storms or hurricanes pass through, they can bring heavy rains, wind, hail and even storm surge. Sometimes the damage is obvious, but quite often roofs can sustain damage that we may not see until it’s dripping through the ceiling. Don’t wait for this to happen! It is important to have a professional inspect your roof annually to detect and repair damage before it becomes an issue.

Water Heaters

Have a plumber inspect and maintain your water heater on a regular basis; 75% of water heaters will fail before they are 12 years old. Be your own inspector and make a habit of checking your water heater for signs of wear; rust or grime build up on the outside, bulging of the tank or standing water around the base of the tank in the drip pan. All are signs that your water heater may need professional attention.

Appliances

Replace hoses on appliances, like washing machines, dishwashers and icemakers, at any sign of wear. The average age of a failed washing machine supply hose is around 8 years. Hoses are inexpensive, so replace them early and well before the manufacturer’s suggestion. Don’t scrimp on cheap replacements, because you will get what you pay for! Replace with high quality parts, as this will still be less costly than water damage repair. Consider having your appliances serviced occasionally to keep them working their best.

Faucets, Sinks and Toilets

Pay attention to your plumbing systems around & under your sinks. Look for signs of wear, including noisy pipes, signs of moisture on walls or floors, or rust stained water. The same attention should be paid to your toilet. Stay in the room until it finishes refilling. Get your toilets inspected regularly by a plumber. Gaskets and seals can fail, supply hoses and tanks can leak, or parts can break down; easy and inexpensive fixes that when left ignored or unchecked can become costly. A continuously running toilet can waste over 200 gallons of water a day. A faucet leaking one drip per second can waste over 300 gallons year! Both will have a huge impact on your water bill, and the longer you ignore the issue, the more damage from water you may incur.

Ensure that everyone in your household knows where and how to shut off the main water supply to your home. When you notice a leak shut if off at the source fast!

Tips to Prevent Water Leaks and Damage

  1. Watch your water bill for unusually high usage. A large jump from one month to another, that is inconsistent with the previous year, could be a sign that there is a problem.
  2. Turn off your water main and use no water for two hours. Take a reading before this test and then after the two hours has lapsed. If the reading has changed, you likely have a leak. Many water meters have leak detectors as well, a small dial. Once you’ve turned your water main off, if the dial continues moving, that could be an indication of a leak.
  3. Check you toilet by placing several drops of food coloring in the tank. If the color is in the bowl in 15 minutes or less with no flushing, you probably have a leak. (Make sure to flush several times after this process, to prevent staining.)
  4. Fix leaks and drips as soon as you notice them. They are quite often quick and easy repairs that you can do on your own for little cost.
  5. Use inexpensive water leak detectors and automatic shutoff systems to catch leaks early. They are easily found at your local hard ware stores or online.

Sources: Water Damage By the Numbers – waterdamagedefense.com. Statistics image based on Travelers Property Casualty Claim data from 2009-2015 – 2016 The Travelers Indemnity Company.

When Disaster Strikes – Call A Professional Restoration Company

When a storm, fire or water causes damage to your home, it can be difficult to know what action to take firs. Where and how does one begin the cleanup? The best step to take when it comes to reclaiming your home, is contacting a professional restoration service.

Storm Damage

Large storm systems and hurricanes can leave massive damage in their wake. Wind damage – whether from the wind itself or debris tossed about by it’s force can cause roof damage – which can leave your home susceptible to water damage. A leaky roof makes way for water and structural damage.

Fire and Smoke Damage

Professional restoration cleanup is imperative if your home has been damaged by fire and smoke. The affected areas can be treated, removed and remediated. However, smoke can leave minute particles behind that sink into tight spaces, that can cause an unwelcome stench in your home. The ever-present smoke damage also opens you to health risks – because long term exposure can contribute to respiratory issues.

Water Damage

Flooding from storms or water damage from leaky pipes or appliances can cause great damage to the structure of your home. However, there is more than one type of damage that can be left by water. Aside from the obvious damage to the contents of your home, there is the added risk of mold growth later. Time is crucial in water damage remediation. The sooner you get your home cleaned and dried out – the lower the risk of long term damage.

Seek Help Immediately

No matter what type of damage has occurred to your home, don’t wait to begin the cleanup process. The sooner you bring a professional in to help, the sooner your home will be returned to the haven is was before damage was sustained.

How To Save Water At Home

A dripping faucet or a pipe with a slow leak may seem harmless, but even small amounts of wasted water can quickly become expensive problems. Save yourself money and head aches by learning how to stop water leaks – and possible damage – before they start.

It flows from faucets, fills washing machines, collects in gutters and runs down drains. When it’s unseen or unwelcome, however, water can turn disastrous. Leaks in American homes waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water annually. Your home may seem water- tight, but there’s a 1 in 10 chance it hides a leak that spews 90 gallons or more every day. That’s like throwing at least $50 per year down the drain. A small leak left unchecked can turn into a pool that causes serious problems. Excess moisture can destroy furniture, carpeting, walls and more.

According to State Farm records, the average cost of a water damage claim in 2015 was $11,013, and that price tag can skyrocket when the home also experiences structural damage. Undetected water can also pose a health risk by encouraging the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria. Hiding behind walls, it can exacerbate allergies or asthma and cause respiratory problems in healthy family members.

Luckily, it’s easy to correct most common sources of water seepage. Quickly replacing a worn toilet flapper or fixing a dripping faucet, for example, can save you about 10% on your water bill and could help prevent more serious problems.

Here are some ways to limit wasted water and help ensure your home is ship-shape.

Pipe Dream

Indoor plumbing is one of civilization’s greatest innovations, but it’s not flawless. The pipes that deliver water are common sources of leaks. The risk increases with age, because pipework joints can degrade with time. Homes older than 30 years are three times more likely than new homes to have plumbing problems. Common causes of leaky pipes are:

  • Rust or corrosion of galvanized steel pipes or of the metal joints and connections of newer PVC or copper piping.
  • Too much water pressure; fixtures and appliance hoses can withstand only so much before faltering.
  • cracked or broken pipes and hoses, which can happen with age, pressure or freezing.

To avoid these problems, replace galvanized pipes with plastic if possible and hire a plumber every few years to inspect your pipes for rust. If your home has a water pressure regulator, adjust it or hire a plumber to address pressure problems. Finally, insulate exposed pipes and those in the attic and basement. Once a pipe springs a leak, it’s best to have a professional repair it. One telltale sign of a leak is decreased or inconsistent water pressure. If you notice such problems with your faucets, call a plumber.

Play Detective

When you picture water damage, you may imagine a flooded basement or a waterfall pouring from a toilet. But most problems don’t start with giant splashes; more common is a slow leak that goes unnoticed until the damage is done. early intervention is key. Waiting too long inflates your utility bill and allows water to build to a destructive point that can result in costly restoration expenses. How do you know if your home hides water leaks?

  • Check Your Water Bill: Review usage amounts during the coldest months. A household of four using more than 12,000 gallons per month probably has some serious leaks.
  • Call Your Water Company: Ask whether your utility provider has a leak detection program that alerts homeowners of unusually high water usage. If so, find out how the system works, so you can take appropriate action.
  • Conduct A Meter Check: Record your water meter reading; then turn off all water inside and outside our home. Make sure no one uses anything that requires water for two hours. Record the reading again; if it’s up, it’s likely a leak. These procedures can help identify the presence of leaks, but they don’t tell you their locations. That requires further investigation, starting with examining the most common culprits – pipes, appliances, toilets, faucets and the home’s exterior.

On Alert

As Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Help protect your home from water damage by using water leak alarms in several strategic locations.

These sensors can detect water in hard-to-see areas. An alarm sounds for as little as one-sixteenth of an inch of water. Basic battery-operated detectors typically cost $5 to $10. Other models, for about $35, connect to smart home systems, such as Iris, Wink and SmartThings. Use the alarms under or hear toilets, sinks, refrigerators with icemakers, dishwashers, washing machines, water heaters, sump pump pits, whole-house humidifiers, window AC units and any areas that have leaked previously.

Rise of the Machines

Many appliances and mechanical systems use a lot of water. When they have problems, they can leak and cause costly damage. Routine maintenance can help!

  • Dishwasher: If a hose leaks or bursts, it can quickly flood your kitchen with gallons of water. The problem is most common with rubber hoses; $20 replaces these with sturdier, steel-braided options.
  • Washing Machine: Half of leaks result from burst water supply lines, which can loosen with vibration and degrade over time. Check your hoses frequently for cracks and kinks and replace them every three to five years as part of a proactive maintenance program.
  • Refrigerator: Almost three-fourths of leaks happen because of a failed plastic hose that connects the icemaker to the water line. Check the hose every six months, and replace it if it’s discolored or cracked.
  • Water Heater: Three out of four fail before age 12. Protect yours by flushing the tank every six months. Check annually for corrosion, leaks and a bulging tank. Have a professional check the anode rods for rust every two years.
  • Whole-House Humidifier: If the refill valve in a humidifier fails, water can leak directly into your sewer. Inspect the euipment frequently during the heating season, and turn off its water supply when not in use.

Toilet Troubles

Considering how often we use them, it’s not surprising that toilets are common sources of leaks. In fact, more than a third of all residential toilets have at least small leaks. Even worse, water damage from toilets averaged $14,891 in homeowner claims, according to State Farm records.

Finding most toilet leaks is easy. Ten minutes after flushing, remove the tank cover. If the water level is at the top of the overflow tube, you have a leak.

Another way to check; Put several drops of food coloring in the tank. If the color appears in the bowl within 10 minutes, there’s a leak. If the toilet valve makes a semi-regular or constant hissing or gurgling sound, there’s likely a large leak.

Some toilet leaks are easy to fix, while others require skilled professionals. Before hiring help, try replacing the flapper valve. Often a worn or warped rubber flapper with a bad seal is the source of problems. Swapping out this $5 part is so easy, most homeowners can tackle it themselves. If a new flapper valve doesn’t stop the leak, call a plumber. The problem could be a broken part, such as a refill valve or a loose gasket or bolt.

Most issues can be fixed at little expense. If the problem is a cracked tank or bowl however, the only solution is replacing the entire toilet. When replacement is necessary, consider investing in a WaterSense- labeled model. This third-party certification means the toilet uses 20% less water than the federal standard. For as little as $80, the toilet may save the average family nearly $2,400 in water and waste bills over its lifetime.

Faulty Faucets

The drip-drop of a leaky faucet or showerhead is more than a nuisance. Just one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year. And the average repair bill for water damage from a leaky sink is $7,000, according to State Farm records.

Faucets have many moving parts that can degrade, making leaks commonplace with enough time. There are four basic types of faucets, and each is repaired slightly differently. To stop a slow leak, first replace worn inside fittings (washers, gaskets, O-rings, cartridges and ceramic discs) and make sure they are secured tightly. You can likely find a tutorial online.

It’s also a good idea to remove mineral buildup in the aerator one a year by taking it out and soaking it in vinegar. If those steps don’t resolve the problem, hire a plumber.

Remember also to inspect faucets in your bathtub or shower, on the water heater, in laundry basins and utility sinks, as well as your home’s exterior.

Showerheads can also cause water issues, but fixing a leak is often as simple as using Teflon tape and a wrench to tighten the connection between the pipe stem and the showerhead. Replacing the washer or O-ring inside the showerhead may also do the trick. As with a faucet, it’s also wise to remove the showerhead annually and soak it in vinegar.

Leaks that aren’t resolved by these tricks may be caused by valves or other parts that a licensed plumber should tackle.

Look Outside

Sometimes water seeping in from outside can cause damage inside. When you search for the source of a leak, walk around your home to examine these possible offenders:

  • Water Supply Line: If there’s no rain, but you find wet soil where the water line enters your home, there may be a leak in the ine that runs between the meter and your home. The water utility should inspect the line and determine responsibility.
  • Sewer: Tree roots can invade and block drain lines, causeing problematic ( and smelly) sewer backups. Fluch an enzyme drain treatment down the toilet each month in spring and summer. If this doesn’t help, hire a plumber to video-snake the system to look for problems.
  • Foundation: As your home settles, the shifting foundation can cause pipes to detach from each other and create leaks inside your walls. Check your walls frequently, espcially those in the basement, and call a plumber if you find wet spots or cracks larger than one-sixteenth of an inch.
  • Roof: Water stains in the attic or on the ceiling and upper walls may indicate a roof in need of repair. toof leaks are most common in areas that get frequent hail, freezing temperatures or severe wind. Hire a roofing pro each spring – or after a major storm – to inspect your shingles and make necessary repairs.

Sources: Admin “How To Save water At Home” Web blog post. Simple Insights, State Farm.

What Do Restoration Companies Do?

A restoration company is a company that specializes in structural and content repairs after a fire, smoke, water, sewer, bio hazard, textile, content or crime scene loss has occurred to a home or business. Restoration companies are usually the first respondents following significant damage to a home from floods and fires, water damage, sewage backup and other major events. The job of a restoration company is to clean up the mess and to preserve and protect the home and its contents so that further damage will not occur. Once the emergency work has been completed, ( usually within two days) the restorer begins the involved process of working with the home or business owner and their insurance adjuster to write a comprehensive repair estimate and begin work to restore the property. Some restoration companies also provide textile, household/business content and fine art cleaning, as well as storage services for these types of items.

Water Damage

When dealing with a sudden water loss that originates from a flooded tub, toilet, sink, dishwahser, clothes washer, water heater or a broken pipe, the restoration crew will make every effort to mitigaate the standing water and dry the home or business, (usually within 3 to 5 days) prior ro the onset of mold and extensive structural damages. Often times ceilings have fallen, floors have buckled and walls will need to be removed. Thus, most restoration compnaies are well versed in content inventory and pack out procedures.

Fire Damage

When dealing with a devastating fire to a home or business, a restoration company is capable of emergency content protection and strucutral board up services. Once the emergency work has been completed, (usually with in two days) the restorer begins the arduous process of writing a comprehensive repair estimate that is agreeable to the property owner and insurance adjuster. Once this has been accomplished, they will begin work to restore the property.

Step – By – Step Process

  1. After the major catastrophe, the property owner needs to contact their insurance agent immediately.
  2. The insurance compnay will typically provide you with information about restoration companies that will remove the water or other contamination.
  3. The property owner should review their reponsibilities under their insurance policy for cleaning up the property to prevent additional damage. Discuss any questions that arise with the adjuster or insurance representative.
  4. When the restoration company arrives, thoroughly walk through the property with the restoration company representative and discuss the areas that need cleaning.
  5. After the restoration company evaluates the work and equipment needed, they will provide an estimate for their services. Most insurance claims will cover the cost of restoration. However, if you are denied by your insurance company, you will be responsible for paying the restoration company.

sources: http://www.amrest.com/what-is-a-restoration-comapny-and-what-services-do-they-provide.

Is Mold Covered In Homeowners Insurance?

Home insurance concept , vector illustration

Like any other organism, mold needs food and water. It loves to eat wood, and that’s one reason why homes and other structures sustain mold damage. When it begins depleting its food source, damage occurs. Mold is easily identifies by how it looks and its odor.

Any type of water damage can result in mold. How the water gets into your home determines whether your homeowners insurance will cover the mold damage and remediation. All homeowners policies declare their covered perils along with their exclusions from coverage. An occurrence that’s typically covered in the context of water damage is a pipe burst. That’s because the actual pipe burst is the cause of the claim, as opposed to the mold itself. If a mold claim arises from Florida weather activity, like a hurricane or flood, it’s not likely to be covered without special coverage. You’ll want to review your policy or talk to your insurance representative to learn whether you have flood coverage.

Most basic homeowners insurers do not provide mold coverage within their covered risks, but that does not necessarily mean your claim will be denied. For instance, the pipe burst, which would be an accidental occurrence, which may lead to mold due to the moisture, should be covered, because the pipe burst is the claim reason, not the mold. However, a home showing neglected maintenance (unrepaired water leaks or exposure to humidity over a prolonged period of time) will be more likely to have a denied claim. You do need to be aware that mold coverage that is provided, due to accidents, is relatively low, unless an additional premium is paid. If you do have some mold damage, you’ll want to do whatever you can to mitigate your damages. You should also be vigilant about making periodic checks for possible water leaks in these common problem spots:

  • HVAC system lines & drains
  • Hoses for appliances
  • Tub, shower & sink seals
  • Any visible pipes
  • Weatherproofing of windows & doors
  • Wet spots in the attic & missing roofing material
  • Landscaping around your home

If you don’t have mold coverage, it’s recommended that you get it, particularly because mold thrives in Florida’s warm, humid climate. an average mold claim ranges between $15,000 and $30,000. Mold riders are available as an optional coverage, however they often come with a big price tag. Discuss your options with your insurance agent. Once you have all the information, you can weigh the risks against the costs for your needs.

As always, it’s important to know what your homeowners policy says in regards to your coverage. Take the time to familiarize yourself and ask questions about specific wording in regards to mold coverage, then you will be prepared should you have the unfortunate need to file a claim.

Sources: Does my homeowners insurance policy cover mold damage? Web Blog post. Living Prepared. Prepared Insurance. Home Insurance and Mold: Is Mold Covered? Web blog post. Houselogic by Realtors.

Dishwasher Flooding

The standard dishwasher is a modern-day convenience may of us utilize with a great degree of satisfaction. This economical water-saver offers much relief when it comes to daily chores. In fact, Energy-Star rated dishwashers use, on average, as little as three gallons of water per load. On the other hand, washing dishes by hand consumes up to 27 gallons of water per load! Modern appliances like the handy dishwasher are a built-in time saver as well as an environmentally friendly machine.

Dishwashers, like most kitchen appliances, are built to last. Many offer years upon years of convenience. On occasion, these dependable appliances have a tendency to leak or break, causing utter devastation within the kitchen. not only is the automatic dishwashing convenience temporarily halted, but the damage that results can be an expensive fix.

Problems with a Broken Dishwasher

The suds and dirty water that leak from a broken dishwasher can seep into your kitchen floorboards within minutes. Mold growth occurs within as little as 24 hours. So, unless you detect the flood sooner rather than later, you’re in for a costly cleanup.

Periodically inspecting your dishwasher for leaks or potential problems is a tedious task, but one that will save you significant labor expenses and, perhaps, a high-cost replacement.

How to Prevent a Broken Dishwasher

The dishwasher is a tidy and prim device, with all the central hoses and components tucked neatly away inside. The appliance seems relatively uncomplicated. Checking your dishwasher takes a little familiarity with its inner workings. So, where do you begin?

Inspect the Gasket

What is a gasket? The gasket is a rubber lining that keeps the suds and water from leaking out of your dishwasher anytime it operates. Easily check the functionality of the gasket with, first a visual inspection for any obvious wear, and second, a piece of paper. Close the dishwasher door upon the paper. If the paper can be easily removed when the door is closed, a tight seal is not in place. Replace the gasket in this instance.

Notice the Water Level

In general, an operational dishwashers water level will remain at the lowest part of the dishwasher door. Upon running the dishwasher, if you notice the water level to be higher than the edge of the door when you open it just prior to the wash cycle, the float switch could be damaged; or food particles may have clogged the strainer. Simply, remove the strainer and thoroughly rinse it to remove any debris. If the water level continues to be high replace the float switch.

Examine Both Hoses

Dishwashers come equipped with two hoses, one that fills and one that drains. Prior to inspecting the hoses, be sure to turn off the power to the dishwasher from the breaker box. You can check the hoses by removing the lower panel of your dishwasher. If you see any traces of wetness, the hoses may be too worn to operate efficiently. Significant water damage is likely to result over the long run. An additional method to check for the functionality of the hoses is to place a piece of paper underneath the hoses. If the paper becomes wet or saturated at any point, replace both hoses. Also check for and undo any kinks in the hose.

What to do about a Flooded Dishwasher

An unexpected leak may spring if you do not perform periodic checks of the dishwashers internal mechanisms. Soapy suds that spread along the kitchen floor leave more than watery puddles to clean up. Developing mold spores are a cause for concern. Plus, in no way is it safe to step onto a wet kitchen floor with a malfunctioning electrical appliance. The combination of electricity and water is extremely dangerous. All is not lost, when you are aware of the steps necessary to remediate the sudden mechanical failure.

Turn Off the Electricity

First, turn off the electricity to the kitchen. This safety precaution ensures that leaking water and electricity do not mix. Advise your family that the kitchen is off limits until the dishwasher is safe to use once again.

Shut Off the Water

A quick reaction is necessary to prevent additional water damage to the flooring or paneling of surrounding cabinets in your kitchen. Find the waterline that works in conjunction with your dishwasher. You’ll likely locate this under the kitchen sink. Turn the valve completely clockwise to shut off the water to the dishwasher. Once the water source is turned off, take this time to examine the cause of the flooded dishwasher.

Mop up Excess Water

Soak up any water that leaked onto your hardwood flooring, kitchen tiles or surrounding cabinetry. Hardwood flooring and wooden cabinets absorb water easily, creating a risky environment that encourages mold growth or discoloration and damage to surfaces, including swelling and warping. Swift action can prevent mold spores from contaminating the space, as well as reduce other unfavorable conditions.

Call a Professional

Once water seeps deep into the kitchen flooring and cabinets, the resulting damage is difficult to remediate without professional help. Water damage restoration professionals are trained and experienced in all facets of water extraction and drying. Reputable companies, like PRS, are immediately available to eliminate the standing floodwater that easily and effortlessly penetrates surfaces. Advanced water-extraction machinery is the most effective method used by trusted water damage restoration experts to thoroughly dry water damaged areas, furnishings and structures.

When your dependable dishwasher suddenly interrupts your peace of mind with an unexpected leak, water damage restoration experts are a phone call away. Service technicians are available 24 hours a day in the event of emergencies to thoroughly remediate the results of any and all water damage.

Source: Luke Armstrong. “Dishwasher Flooding: How to Prevent and React.” Web blog post. Restoration guides, Restoration Master.