Water - A Home's Hidden Enemyby Marcy Baxter, Office Mgr. on 04/16/18
For many people across the country, last year, and particularly last summer (2017) will not be remembered for all of the backyard barbecues and fun in the sun, but for the abundance of rain that fell. In the Northeast, nearly the entire month of June was shrouded in cloud cover and rain-producing storms. The unprecedented amount of rainfall wreaked havoc on many homes in our area. This winter has been no different, with more rain than snow, homes are susceptible to water infiltration.
Unusual weather, be it excessive rain, hurricanes or tornadoes, can leave unsuspecting homeowners with problems they never imagined. All it takes is a storm to cause a host of conditions that can put homes in jeopardy. Water damage is something that costs homeowners thousands of dollars every year. Water damage can escalate to mold and microbial growth issues in just a few days, which can compromise the health of the inhabitants, including your pets.
Water damage describes many possible losses caused by water intruding where it may attack materials or systems by destructive processes such as rotting of wood, mold growth, rusting of steel, de-lamination of materials such as plywood, etc.
More importantly, studies have shown links between mold damage and illness. One such study finds, “Respiratory illnesses have consistently been found to be associated with exposure to water-damaged, damp indoor environments.” Therefore, not only could water damage cause problems within your home, but also in the overall health of your family.
Homeowners policies typically do NOT include flood insurance. If you live in a flood area or if you want this coverage, be sure to ask about this coverage for Building Coverage and Contents Coverage, as they are in fact two separate coverages.
Nearly 40 percent of all homeowners have reported to their insurance company (in a 2015 survey) that they experienced losses due to water damage. However, insurance plans may not cover all types of water damage, so it pays to be informed.
Flood Damage vs. Water Damage
How do you know if damage from the rising river in the yard or the rainwater that infiltrated your attic is covered by insurance? It may come down to the verbiage of insurance policies.
Typical homeowner’s insurance policies will cover damage by water that occurred before said water comes in contact with the ground. For example, a heavy thunderstorm that leaked through a faulty window and damaged walls and flooring would likely be covered by a homeowner’s policy.
On the flip side, flood insurance would be needed for any water damage that occurred from rising water, or water that was already on the ground at some point before damaging your home. Therefore, if a river or even an area storm drain overflowed, and your home was in the wake, it will probably be considered flood damage.
A standard flood insurance policy is written by the National Flood Insurance Program and provides coverage up to the policy limit for damage caused by flood. Homeowners who suspect they are in flood-prone areas or simply want extra coverage for "just-in-case" moments should think about purchasing flood insurance.
Preventing Water Damage
Water damage accounts for 25 percent of all insurance claims. Water seepage into a home can cause a host of problems, including structural damage, mold, mildew, and the creation of an environment conducive to certain insects or other pests.
We strongly recommend that homeowners inspect their property regularly for signs of water damage; be proactive and take precautions to prevent future repairs.
- · Homeowners with basement windows may want to consider window coverings that divert rainwater. After heavy rains, many homes have the problem of excess water in the basement from leakage through basement window wells. Having a basement window cover creates a physical barrier so that rainwater does not leak into the home.
- · Regularly clean out gutters and downspouts so that rainwater can drain out and away from the home. A faulty gutter system can cause rain to flow down the foundation of your home and leak inside.
- · Check to see if there are any areas on the property of pooling water. This could indicate a drainage issue and the grading of the property may need to be changed. Keep in mind that recent construction in the area or removal of trees/shrubs may cause rainwater diversion and also change the way your property handles water
- Inspect the roof, windows, and door surrounds for water entry points. Sealing potential infiltration points can prevent water damage. All it takes is a few drops of water on a regular basis to eat away at your home investment.
- Use your nose. Even if you can't see water damage you may be able to smell it. Musty basements could be a telltale sign of water trouble. The installation of a drain and sump pump system often remedies basement water problems, primarily in areas with a high-water table.
You can also consult with A Cut Above Carpentry for a professional assessment of water issues and recommendations.
Bibliography / References
1 Article By Chris Carbone of Renew Restoration https://www.angieslist.com/articles/how-fast-can-water-damage-ruin-home.htm
2 The Scientific World Journal https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2013/767482/
3 US National Library of Medicine and NIH https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2233984/