Water Damage Prevention and Mitigation
By E. Alex Stefan
October 7, 2010
Water is amazing: it can be life’s single most important ingredient and it can be a destructive force; especially when it's leaking inside your home.
Water damage, whether caused by a leaky faucet, a burst pipe, a poorly-attached appliance connection or a sudden flood can wreak havoc on a home’s interior.
This list is but a sampling of what can occur within the typical home:
However, you are not helpless; a vigilant home-maintenance plan can be a priceless strategy.
Whenever water remains in contact with anything organic, rot begins and mold starts to grow. Whether the material is carpet fibers, wood, paper; or even bits of dead skin, pet hair and dirt found in a well-vacuumed carpet…bad things begin to happen very quickly. Repairing or replacing rotten or moldy wood products, drywall and carpet will set you back a small fortune.
Much of the trouble that water causes goes unseen until it’s too late; and the repair of this damage is increasing every year as a source of insurance claims from homes and businesses. However, the vast majority of in-home water losses are preventable.
For an insurer to cover your claim for water-related damage, usually the cause must have been sudden and accidental.
It's considered the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain the home. However, if you maintained your home adequately and pipes burst after freezing, the damage should be covered under standard homeowners insurance.
When it comes to water damage, your energy is best spent on prevention. Many hardware stores and home centers sell moisture alarms you can put under sinks and appliances. But it's also good to know how to handle an emergency. In most cases, these immediate actions can save you significantly:
1. Call a professional. Google or Bing search “emergency restoration” and call a professional remediation company. Tell them your situation, ask if they’re certified, bonded and insured; and see how soon they can be there. Then immediately call your insurance agent and get authorization. In most cases, your agent will instruct you to call the mitigation company back and give them the ok. If you call your insurance agent first, you may get an adjuster with their best interest in mind instead of yours.
2. Move valuables to dry land. Remove everything you can from a wet floor (dyes and stains on furniture may bleed onto the wood or carpeted floors); if you can't move a piece of furniture, put aluminum foil or a plastic bag under the legs.
3. Lift other items above the water line. Get draperies up off the floor by putting them on clothes hangers and hooking the hanger onto the drapery rod. Remove low-lying accessories from walls and shelving units as moisture can leach up quickly.
4. Pay attention to everything water has touched. Look for water in the carpet or touching a wall. It may have traveled unseen under the carpet, possibly reaching cabinets, walls, insulation, other rooms and the subfloor. This is where mold grows undetected.
- E. Alex Stefan is a free-lance writer from Anchor Bay, Michigan. He can be reached at Life-Write@hotmail.com