Preventing Water Damage Inside Your Home

  1. Know The Location Of Your Water Main

You’d be surprised how many homeowners have no idea where their water main is located. And knowing where your water main is located is the first step in preventing or minimizing any water damage disaster.

  1. Check Appliances Regularly

It’s important to inspect and maintain your home appliances regularly for any hidden leaks. Leaking or malfunctioning appliances account for a significant portion of water damage claims.

  1. Install Floor/Drain Pans at Hot Water Heater and AC

While they won’t protect your home from a catastrophic leak, they can help prevent any damage from small or slow undetected leaks.

  1. Upgrade Washing Machine Hoses

Washing machine leaks are among the most frequent causes of water damage loss for homeowners. Replace washing machine hoses at least every five years and consider using a flood safe hose. Replace your hoses regularly could avoid a nasty mess and expensive damage.

  1. Inspect Your Refrigerator

If your refrigerator has an ice maker or water dispenser, be sure to double check the water line hose between the fridge and the wall for any leaks. And again, consider upgrading to a flood safe hose.

  1. Inspect Your Water Heater

Be sure to inspect your water heater at least once a year, keeping an eye out for any slow leaks, water pooling, or any rust or corrosion, especially on the water pipes connecting the heater to the plumbing system.  If you do spot any issues, be sure to have your water heater serviced by a professional as soon as you can..

  1. Inspect Your Air Conditioning Unit

Another major culprit in water damage claims is your air conditioning unit. It’s a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” Air conditioning units are usually tucked away in a dark closet somewhere in the house that you rarely ever check, even worse when they’re located in the attic.

Know how your condensate drain works.  Does it have a float switch and pump? Have a qualified service person inspect and service you unit at least before summer, preferably every 6 months.

  1. Inspect Your Attic

It’s another case of “out of sight, out of mind.” Most homeowners never step foot into their attics, and signs of water damage in the attic may not sure until it’s too late, especially if it’s a slow leak. The issue with water damage in your attic is that it’s the prime environment for mold growth. Water saturates the wood and insulation causing mold to grow and spread – not only causing water damage to your home but now you have a health hazard that you need to deal with.

Another scenario is when water pools in the attic until your ceiling can’t handle the stress anymore and comes crashing down. A routine check of your attic is definitely worth your time.

  1. Seal Windows & Doors

Rain and snow can easily invade your home through badly fitted windows or doors, especially in conjunction with strong winds blowing against the side of your home.

Water seepage inside windows can damage your window frames and surrounding drywall. Fix this by applying caulk at exterior frame and trim and use weather stripping to seal windows and doors that aren’t closing tightly.

Do you live in an area with frequent storms? Consider installing storm windows to provide an additional layer of protection against wind and rain.

Properly sealed windows and doors will not only help keep water out but can also save electricity.

  1. Inspect Hoses, Faucets, & Sinks

It’s best to routinely check the hoses, faucets, and sinks for signs of any leaks. Be sure to check underneath the cabinets and keep an eye out for any water stains.  Have these leaks addressed before they become worse.

Shut off valves (stops) should be changed out at 10 years.  They are cheap units subject to failure due to the chemicals in our water supply.  These valves are located at every fixture including toilets, faucets at bath and kitchen sinks.

  1. Inspect Showers, Tubs, & Toilets

Your showers and tubs are constantly being exposed to water, there’s obviously no way around it. Usually built with tile and glass enclosures, they do a pretty good job of draining water and preventing any water flow outside of the designated wet areas. Over time, the caulking or grout between tiles can break off or become damaged. Be sure to repair these grout lines and caulk wherever necessary to prevent water from permeating the tile and damaging the underlying drywall.

  1. Check Pipes

Check any and all accessible pipes for any cracks or leaks. If you find any damage, be sure to have it repaired immediately to prevent even more costly repairs in the future.

  1. Never Pour Grease Down Sinks

Odds are, you’ve probably heard this before. Avoid pouring grease (hot or cold) down your kitchen sink; it also won’t matter if you flush it with hot or cold water. Grease can congeal and cling to your pipes, causing severe damage and blocking water flow.

  1. Use A Drain Snake Instead Of Chemicals

Clogs are inevitable and are going to happen, no matter how clean you are. Chances are you’ve used a powerful chemical drain cleaner to get the water flowing again. However, as convenient as they are, these chemicals can also eat away at your pipes, setting yourself up for leaks.  Consider owning a drain snake, they’re pretty inexpensive, and they’re a great solution to clear away any clogs.

  1. Monitor Your Water Bill

With so many water pipes hidden behind walls and floors, you might not know there’s a leak until the damage is visible. Keep an eye on your water bill, if you see it starting to creep up or receive an unusually high bill, it could be a sign that you may have a leak somewhere in your home.

  1. Shut Off Your Water Supply When On Vacation

Be sure to turn off your home’s water supply when you go on vacation. Some of the most common causes of water damage in the summer months are when families leave on vacation. Their homes empty for days, weeks, and sometimes even months. If there was a leak, even a small one, it’d be left unchecked and can cause a substantial amount of damage by the time someone ever notices.

  1. Install Water Leak Detection Devices/Alarms

Water Alarms work similarly to smoke alarms. When the device detects water in a specific area, an alarm is triggered. Basic leak detection devices are relatively inexpensive, ranging from $10-$30 each and require a 9-volt battery. You can place them directly on the floor or mount them in a variety of locations: in the basement, the attic, near your air conditioner, refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machines – basically anywhere in the house that’s susceptible to water damage.

  1. Install A Water Flow Monitoring System

Water flow monitoring systems protect your entire house by measuring the flow of water into your home, directly attaching to your water main. In the event that it detects continuous water flow that isn’t consistent with your everyday use of household appliances, it stops the flow of water into your house automatically.  Check out LeakSmart, a complete system with reporting to your smart phone.

For more information about your Policy and Interior Water Damage, send us an email at Info@SWFLAgency.com.

SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc.

www.SWFLAgency.com

239-265-9577

Beware of the AOB…..Assignment of Benefits….Avoid this at all cost.

   

“What is an Assignment of Benefits?”

“An Assignment of Benefits (AOB) is a contract between you and a contractor (such as a plumber, water remediation firm, roofer, etc.) where you give the contractor control of your claims benefits. They file a claim for their services and direct the insurance company to pay them directly.

What’s in it for the contractor?

Once you sign an AOB, you lose control of the direction of your claim. The contractor takes control, and can submit whatever they like to your insurance company, sometimes billing the company two, three, four, five times the going market rate for their services, and sometimes including work that was never performed. You don’t see this, and you can’t verify what they did.

What are the potential pitfalls in signing an AOB?

  • You have committed to this contractor, and you have little to no recourse if you’re not satisfied with their work.
  • You can no longer comparison shop if you are not satisfied with their work. Even if they walk off the job with their work incomplete, they can still claim compensation from the insurance company which gets deducted from your benefits.
  • Both you, and the contractor, are still bound by the terms and conditions of the policy, and if the contractor violates those terms and conditions, those actions could potentially jeopardize coverage for your entire loss.

What’s in it for the contractor?

This is where the age old mantra of “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” comes into play.  Has the contractor done any of the following?

  • Solicits a job from you unannounced for damages you didn’t even know were allegedly present?
  • The contractor is offering you something for nothing, such as a free roof or kitchen.
  • Wants to start work immediately and advises you to delay contacting your insurance company?
  • Offered to “take care of” your deductible.

Any of these issues could potentially lead to a fraud investigation which could jeopardize your coverage.

Possible Litigation:

As mentioned above, there is no standard for what the contractor can submit to the insurance company, and if the company questions the scope and/or the pricing submitted by the contractor the company can be sued directly by the contractor.  And while you may not be a party to this lawsuit, more likely than not you will end up being a witness.

What should you do if you have a claim?”

Contact your insurance agent to report the claim.  He can guide you through the process.  Some insurance carriers will have contractors that they have vetted and will recommend.

This article is compliments of Federated National and SWFL Insurance Agency.

Questions or need a Homeowners or Property coverage quote, call 239-265-9577 or email joshw@swflagency.com.  We are Your Insurance Answer People in SWFL.

Avoiding Water Damage Losses in Your Home or Condo….Must Read

water-damage-home“From torn washing machine hoses to burst pipes, it’s no wonder that water damage is among the leading causes of homeowners’ claims across the country.

Anyone who has ever dealt with a water issue at home or been involved with a water loss claim can speak to the devastation. The loss is typically greater than the property that is destroyed.”

With so many SWFL homes and condos sitting unoccupied for various lengths of time, it is important to have your customers understand the risk associated with not shutting off the potable water supply to the plumbing system of their home. Water damage claims from a plumbing break can be devastating and can happen at any time. Losses are more likely to happen when you are not home and the damage will typically be more extensive.

Help your customers understand where the main water shut off for their home or condo is located. Make sure they know where the shut off valves for each plumbing fixture and appliance is located, Being able to get to the shut off quickly can reduce damages. This is particularly important for multi story homes and condos.

If the home or condo is 10 years or older, always recommend that the shut off valves be inspected and replaced. The quality of the water can cause deposits in shut off valves causing them to not operate. These valves are typically not turned at all, unless there is an emergency or a fixture needs repair. These valves are typically the weakest link in the plumbing system.

The condensate drain and catch pan for the air conditioning system is another potential cause of water damage. This system should be cleaned and inspected at least once per year to avoid problems. Many condensate systems utilize a shut off switch to monitor excess water in the drain catch pan and shut the system down. This switch should be inspected and replaced if not working. This switch can make the difference in avoiding water damage, which can be serious depending upon where system is located.

Technology advances have created devices to shut off the main water supply when a major drop in pressure is detected. Some devices can send a text alert to your phone. Learn more at Auto Shut Off Devices. Condominium associations with multi story buildings should consider having auto shut off valves installed in all units due to the potential for extensive losses affecting multiple units.

Your Homeowners Insurance Policy may have water damage coverage, check closely. If coverage is included or endorsed to the policy, the limit of coverage will typically be $5,000. This being the case, it is even more important to be pro active in preventing a water damage loss.

Questions…Need a Homeowners Policy competitive premium quote… Call SWFL Insurance Agency, Inc., 239-265-9577 info@swflagency.com………www.SWFLAgency.com

 

Accidental Water Damage…What is covered by My Homeowners Policy?

Plumbing Leak

First let’s look at definitions.  

A back-up is an accumulation caused by a stoppage in the flow; (Typically not covered)

  • Something prevents the water from continuing down its path
  • The flow is forced to reverse direction and go back the other way.
  • A collapsed drain pipe or blockage can cause a back-up.

An overflow is when the water exceeds its boundaries;

  • The space is filled to capacity and water then spreads beyond its limits.
  • A bath tub left running creates an overflow.

A discharge is a flowing or issuing out;

  • Water coming from a pipe.
  • A leaking pipe discharges water from the hole in the pipe;
  • It is not a back-up or an overflow.

Discharge or Overflow?

The Homeowners Form HO3 and HO6 provide coverage for water damage that is the result of a discharge or overflow of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or household appliance if it is on the residence premises.

This covers

  • pipes that leak behind walls, floors, or ceilings including AC drip pans,
  • washing machines and dishwashers that overflow,
  • toilets or bathtubs that overflow, or
  • storm drains off premises that overflow due to high rains or floods.

It is important to note that a sump, sump pump or related equipment, or a roof drain, gutter or downspout or similar equipment is not considered a plumbing system or household appliance.

  • A discharge or overflow caused by a storm drain, water, steam, or sewer pipe is covered as well if it is off the premises.

The coverage is for repair of the damaged property—the walls, floors, tiling, and carpet, areas that got saturated and need to be repaired or replaced. Even the tear out of a wall, for example, to get to a leaking pipe is covered.

What is not covered is the leaking pipe itself; a pipe leak is often caused by simple wear and tear or age of the system, and that is a maintenance item. However, even if the insured is hanging a picture and pokes a hole in a brand new home and new pipes, the damage to the pipe is not covered. The exclusion for damage to the item causing the loss is all encompassing, and has no exceptions.

The policy specifically excludes water that backs-up through sewers or drains, overflows from sumps, sump pumps, or related equipment.

But wait…….. this is where a lot of losses occur. 

To provide coverage for this occurrence there is the Water Back-up and Sump Discharge or Overflow endorsement, HO 04 95.

  • This provides $5,000 of coverage for back up through a sewer or drain or
  • Overflow or discharge of a sump, sump pump or related equipment,
  • Even if the equipment suffers a mechanical breakdown.
  • This coverage does not, however, increase the limits of liability for coverage A, B, C, or D in the homeowners’ policy.

This takes the problem of defining back-up or overflow out of the equation of certain losses, since the endorsement provides the coverage that is excluded in the main policy itself.

Make sure to ask for this coverage to be added to your Homeowners Policy.

Call SWFL Insurance Agency at 239-265-9577 for a full review of your present coverage and a competitive quote.

Note:   Damage caused by repeated leakage of water, such as rot, fungi, mold, deterioration are covered under a specific peril with conditions.  See Fungi, Mold.