Did you know over 40% of home insurance claims are due to water damage? Even more alarming, that trend is on the rise due to increased frequency of violent storms and an aging sewer infrastructure. The bad news? A burst pipe or severe rainstorm can destroy precious mementos and ruin valuables in mere minutes. The good news is that water damage is preventable. Let’s look at some easy steps you can take to protect your home.
Precautions outside your house
To paraphrase the old saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cleanup.
- Prepare for upcoming storms. Secure gutters, outdoor furniture, windows and doors. Check to make sure the roof is in good condition and that the seals are tight.
- Keep your roof in good shape. Install a vapour barrier as a second layer of protection under the shingles. Clean debris from eavestroughs and downspouts regularly.
- Install a rain barrel. It’s easy, and it can help prevent basement and sewer flooding by diverting water.
- Install flood-proofing devices. Sump pumps remove water before it floods your basement, and battery backup ensures that it keeps working during power outages. A backwater valve will prevent sewage from backing up into your basement. It closes automatically if the sewer backs up.
- Grade your lot. Does your property slope enough to drain water away from the foundation? Ensure downspouts extend at least 1.8 metres or six feet from your basement wall. These efforts will improve drainage and prevent flooding.
Precautions inside your house
- Check caulking and drain pipes. Is the silicone caulking around the bath and shower in good shape? Do you know where your main water shutoff valve is located if a pipe bursts?
- Pay special attention to the bathroom. Fix small leaks in your toilet and check your shower drain for backups regularly. If your bathroom is in the basement, make sure your appliances are protected by anti-backflow valves.
- Check washer or dishwasher hoses. Hoses leak due to wear and tear. Check the condition of your hoses and pipes regularly. Consider replacing them with metal-reinforced hoses. Avoid pouring fats, oils and grease down household drains. Are your washing machine faucets in the ‘off’ position?
Are you covered for water damage?
Make sure you have the insurance coverage you need for water damage to your home. Most standard homeowner policies provide protection for sudden and accidental water damage. If a burst pipe happens and you’re not at home, you can get smartphone notifications through programs like The Personal’s Alert which notifies you if water is detected in your home, before the damage gets worse.
Make sure you read your policy carefully. According to the Insurance Information Institute, home insurance does not typically cover damage from unresolved maintenance issues, flood damage, or water backup from an outside sewer or drain. Some of these risks can be covered by a special rider on your policy – and some depend on taking the steps needed to prevent water damage in your home.
Get more ideas for maintenance and prevention from the IBC
Keys to preventing water damage in your home
Simple steps you can take to protect your home against water damage
OSPE has a partnership with The Personal Insurance Company with regards to home and auto insurance for our engineers, engineering graduates and engineering students.
To find out more, call 1-888-476-8737.
The Personal refers to The Personal General Insurance Inc. in Quebec and The Personal Insurance Company in all other provinces and territories of Canada.
The information provided is meant to be illustrative only and does not constitute or replace the advice of experts. The Personal assumes no liability with regards to how such information is used.