One of the most common home insurance claims is water damage. The source of this damage can include leaks in plumbing, broken pipes, overland flooding, or even backed-up sewers. Luckily, most of this damage can be reduced or prevented altogether. To help avoid water damage in your home, and unnecessary home insurance claims, there are a few simple precautions you can take.

Inside your home

• Check the hoses in your appliances for cracks when you do laundry. If you find any signs of damage, wear, or bulging you should replace them immediately with a high-pressure stainless-steel braided hose – they last longer, and are less likely to swell or burst under pressure. Even if your hoses look ok, it’s a good idea to replace them every five years. At around $20, it’s an inexpensive way to ward off costly problems.
• Regularly examine the floor near your water heater for signs of leakage. Hire a licenced technician to periodically do inspections, and replace your water heater every ten years. Having a water heater that is too old can lead to water damage claims being denied by your insurer.
• Inspect your refrigerator, dishwasher and taps for leaks and crimps. Focus on the areas most likely to leak, like door seals, intakes and drains. You can consult your appliance’s owner’s manual for where to find these parts on your model.
• Place a bucket under your kitchen sink to catch small leaks before they become a larger issue, and call a plumber as soon as possible.
• Keep all floor drains clear and free from obstructions.

Take extra care to inspect your basement and foundation, as this is a common area where damage occurs. Leaks are frequently traced to cracks in your home’s foundation. While minor cracks are generally not concerning, major cracks should be filled in and stopped from spreading as soon as possible to prevent any issues.

Sump Pumps

Many homes are equipped with sump pumps in their basement as an additional water damage prevention tool. They collect water and pump it outside and away from your home. It’s activated by a float switch that turns on the pump once the water reaches a certain level. You can also install a battery back-up so that it will still activate, even if your power goes out.

To test your sump pump and make sure it is working effectively, begin by slowly pouring water into the tank. Once the float begins to rise, the pump should activate, and shut off again once the water lowers. Be sure to check it regularly for build-up and clean out any sediment to prevent clogging.

Outside your home

• In the fall, drain all outside pipes and garden hoses to prevent freezing in the colder months.
• Make sure all storm grates are unobstructed by leaves and other debris.
• Disconnect downspouts draining directly into the sewer system. Try to redirect them a minimum of 6 feet away from your home’s foundation; test downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof.
• Ensure your lot is graded so that water drains away from your home and not towards it.
• Inspect your roof for loose or damaged shingles, especially after storms or days with high winds.
• If your home is equipped with a septic system, have it serviced regularly by a professional.

By taking the time to perform these tasks proactively, you can save yourself money and the headaches of water damage.

At Cowan, our team of professionals is dedicated to helping you protect the things that matter to you. If you do need to make a claim, we’re here to make things easier for you by offering the guidance and support you deserve when you need it the most.