As a homeowner, you hope to never deal with major damages to your house. Unfortunately, unforeseen damages are a part of homeownership. Being prepared in case of damages such as lightning or water leaks can help ease your stress when facing unexpected insurance claims or repair bills. Water leaks in particular can cause lasting, irreparable damage to your home if not dealt with in a timely manner.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, or III, water damage has accounted for 2% of home insurance claims from 2012-2016. The second largest percent of homeowners insurance claims in that time period, this percentage translates to about one in 50 covered homes making a claim for water damage. The average payout for these claims was over $9,600, making water damage one of the most common and most expensive costs to repair.
Decreasing Your Risk of Water Leaks and Home Water Damage
The easiest step to avoiding costly home water damage is to monitor your water pressure. High water pressure can cause hoses and pipes to wear down quicker than normal. The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) defines excessive water pressure as pressure measuring above 80 psi in its Uniform Plumbing Code. If you find that your water pressure is exceeding the maximum psi, a pressure reducing valve (PRV) can be added to help regulate your water pressure. Contact a professional, licensed contractor to install any water pressure valves or pressure regulators.
In addition to monitoring your home’s water pressure, regularly inspecting appliances that use water will decrease your risk for water leaks. Washing machines, sinks, dishwashers and hot water heaters are all susceptible to wear and tear that leads to leaky joints and hoses. Be sure to replace or repair any joints, pipes and hoses that show signs of damage or mineral buildup. For older appliances, pipes and hoses should be monitored especially close as they are more likely to need repair. Some repairs, such as exchanging copper pipes for steel tubing or resealing the base of a toilet, can be fairly cost effective if done proactively.
Water sensors, also known as water alarms or flood sensors, are great tools to monitor your appliances. A water sensor will act similar to a smoke detector to alert you to any unwanted water. Basic water detection sensors can be found at most home improvement stores. Also known as passive water sensors, these devices are placed near appliances such as a washing machine and emit an alarm when they become damp. Exposed metal prongs are attached to a small battery which sets off the alarm when in contact with moisture. These allow you to act quickly should something go wrong with your plumbing.
Handling Unexpected Water Damage
No matter how proactive you may be at inspecting your appliances and replacing worn out pipes, home water damage can still happen. Sometimes plumbing fixtures and seals are faulty or fail and you’re left to clean up the mess. Burst pipes are one of the most common examples of unexpected water damage and can happen at any time. Knowing how to handle an emergency water leak or burst pipe may be the difference between short term repairs and expensive, long-term damage to your home.
The first thing to do when you experience an emergency water leak such as a burst pipe is to shut off the main water valve of your home. This valve is often found by your water meter. Make sure you and anyone else living in the house know where this is and how to shut it off should an emergency happen while you are gone. Keep yourself and your family safe by turning off the electricity to the area of your home where the leak occurred. This will help prevent serious or even fatal injuries from electric shock.
When it’s safe to enter the room, get a bowl or bucket to place under the leak. Turn on a faucet to drain the water that is already in the plumbing system. This will stop the water from flowing through the leak and help minimize damages. Contact your insurance provider to let them know of the issue and take pictures to document the leak. Find a reputable emergency plumbing service to come to your home immediately and repair the broken pipe, valve or hose. Ask the plumbers to also inspect other nearby pipes or hoses to check for any issues.
Once the emergency has been resolved, act quickly to start cleaning up standing water and wet surfaces. Cleaning spaces that may trap moisture is essential to keeping mold and mildew away. If your pipe bursts in a wall or has time to soak into floors, cleanup may require professional help. Dealing with water damage now keeps you from experiencing health issues due to mold and bacteria.
How to Tell if Your Home Has a Water Leak
Water leaks and water damage are not always obvious emergencies. Sometimes pipes in the walls leak slowly but consistently at valves or joints. You may be able to hear dripping but not be able to determine the source of the sound. Luckily, there are several ways to determine if your plumbing or appliances are leaking.
If you suspect a fast-moving leak, turn off all of your water-using appliances and check your water meter. Watch the meter for several minutes with all faucets turned off. If it continues to go up, you likely have a fairly fast leak. If there is no movement, don’t use water for a couple of hours then go back and check again. Increases in the water meter after this time may mean you have a slow leak somewhere in your plumbing.
Monitor your water usage each month and look back through your records to check for increases in usage. Even if there are no sudden spikes in water usage, a slow but consistent rise in gallons used per month may indicate a leak somewhere in your home. You can also check your water bill for increases in price related to usage. A rising water bill with unchanged water use habits could mean a leak.
Remember that interior water damage can also be caused by exterior water fixtures. If you see that your meter is rising and so are your monthly water bills, don’t forget to check the outside spigots and faucets as well as interior plumbing. Leaking exterior features can cause damage to interior pipes by wearing them down quicker or leaking into the space where the spigot meets your home.
Homeowners Insurance Protects You from Costly Home Water Damage
Dealing with water damage in your home can be an expensive and stressful undertaking. Set yourself up for success when it comes to water leaks in your home by regularly monitoring your water usage and water pressure. Inspect and replace or repair any appliances, hoses or pipes that may be worn out. In addition to preventing water leaks through maintenance and reacting quickly to emergencies, you can safeguard your home from water damage with homeowners insurance.
At Wawanesa, we understand the importance of keeping you and your family safe from long-term effects of water damage. We offer home insurance policies that cover unexpected water damage to your home. Be prepared for any home repair emergency by contacting us for a quote today at 1-877-WAWANESA (929-2637).