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Water Damage 101: Protecting Your Home from Water Damage and Filing a Water Damage Claim

“Water is life” they say, but water can mean destruction, too, especially for homes. This article discusses water damage to homes, protecting homes against water damage, and filing water damage claims

Water is probably the most essential element for life that no one would normally associate it with destruction. Ironically, water is responsible for causing one of the most common and costly damages in one’s home: water damage. In the United States, water can easily cost billions of dollars in damages in a year. This doesn’t only affect homeowners, insurance companies are greatly affected as well. On average, a single home water damage claim is $7,000!

Because water damage can be so destructive to one’s home and savings, it’s important for homeowners to know how to protect their homes from water damage. But it’s also equally important and valuable for homeowners to understand how they can eliminate, if not minimize the costs of water damage with water damage insurance claims.

Water Damage Insurance Companies and Your Water Damage Claim

The first and most important thing to understand when dealing with insurance companies and water damage claims is that your insurance will, most likely, not cover all types of water damage. It’s best to review your policy thoroughly to avoid wasting your time on claims that are surefire rejections.

Identifying Water Damage

Water damage is, put simply, any damage done to your home or items due to water – be it from flooding or even just from minor leaks. Identifying water damage sounds pretty simple but it can be actually be quite tricky. Sometimes, water damage won’t show until it’s practically ruined your possessions.

For disastrous events like floods, identifying water damage is pretty much straight to the point. For normal days, it would help to have a regular inspection of rooms and furniture that are near water or plumbing features.

Once you’ve identified and confirmed the water damage in your home, it’s time to check your insurance policy – does your insurance company cover such damages? If yes, great! Move on to the next step.

Preventing Further Damage

Prevent any more damage by getting rid of the water source. If the damage is done by flooding, have a professional pump out all the flood water. If the damage was caused by a leak, hire a licensed plumber to locate the source of the leak and plug it ASAP.

These professionals will also help to testify the legitimacy and details of the water damage to support or even strengthen your insurance claims.

Document Everything

Speaking of supporting your insurance claims, you should also do so by providing concrete evidence. Take photos or even videos of the water damage as well as the cause (i.e. floods, leaks).

When it comes to leaks, it would also help to identify and document the cause of the leak. So if it was caused by a broken pipe, the pipe (or a picture of the pipe) would count as evidence, too.

Evidence is important to avoid any coverage suspicions from your insurance company.

Time to File Your Claim!

When you’ve got what you need, you’re ready to file your claim. Here’s what you should expect:

Your insurance company will verify your claims by scheduling an inspection. Some insurance companies have their own inspector while some will hire a third-party expert to conduct the inspection. These inspections are done for the purpose of verifying your claims and estimating the cost of repairs to be covered.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Knowing the types of water damage covered by your insurance company allows you to focus on protecting your home from the types of water damage that aren’t covered. Prevention is better than cure, after all.

Basement Water Seepage

Most water damage happens in the basement. Water damage in this room is usually caused by water seeping through cracks in building foundations or floors. Here’s what you can do to prevent water damage in this area:

  • Smother problem areas with water sealant.
  • Perfect your water drainage system – water should drain away from your home.
  • Prevent sewer backups with a backwater valve.

Indoor Plumbing Maintenance

No matter how good you think your indoor plumbing system is, it would still need regular maintenance and inspection to ensure that it’s working as it should be.

  • Have professionals inspect all your plumbing and heating pipes at least once a year. They’ll be able to spot any cracks and leaks and make the necessary repairs or replacements right away.
  • Have an emergency pressure release valve installed. This is more helpful for homeowners in colder states. These valves protect one’s pipes from bursting from the increased pressure from frozen pipes.
  • Ensure bathroom fixtures are watertight. Sinks, showers, and bath tubs should be properly sealed.
  • Invest in a water leak monitoring system that will notify you of hose or faucet leaks. This system can also help with appliance hoses – those that source water to appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, etc.

Home Exterior Renovation

After protecting your home from interior plumbing leaks, it’s time to work on sealing your home from water from the outside.

  • Seal windows to prevent water seepage.
  • Have gutter guards installed or replace old ones with more durable new ones. These will prevent gutter clogs and prevent water from accumulating on your roof.
  • Pay attention to your sprinkler and irrigation system. During colder months, they should be drained to prevent freezing.
  • Inspect your roofing and downspouts. Your roof’s purpose is to protect you from outside elements so it only makes sense for it to be sealed tight – no water should be able to seep through it. Downspouts should also be positioned to direct water away from your house.

Proper Item Storage

It’ll be good to have your possessions protected separately, too, in case water ends up seeping into your home somehow.

  • For items stored in risky areas like the basement or attic, protect them by sealing them off in waterproof bins.
  • Keep your most treasured items away from these areas as they are prone to dampness.
  • Items stored in the basement should be kept away from the floor. Keep your bins up in shelves, instead.
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