Recent Water Damage Posts
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?
Published: June 2015
You're catching up on some laundry and everything's going fine. The next thing you know, water starts gushing across your floor when your washing machine water supply hose suddenly fails. You get the water mopped up, but a few days later your wood laminate floor starts buckling. So, you may wonder, will your homeowners insurance cover the damage?
In this case, your insurance policy will likely provide coverage. Most standard homeowners policies provide protection from water damage if the cause is sudden and accidental. According to the Insurance Information Institute, you'll likely be protected if, for instance, your drywall is drenched after your water heater ruptures or an upstairs pipe bursts and water saturates the ceiling below.
WHAT'S NOT COVERED?
Homeowners insurance does not cover all types of water damage, however.
Damage from unresolved maintenance issues: While your insurance will probably help cover the cost of replacing or repairing a damaged floor if your dishwasher suddenly goes on the fritz, coverage generally will not kick in if the damage results from an unresolved maintenance issue, such as continuous leaking near a faucet or other plumbing fixture.
Replacing or repairing the source of the water damage: Most insurance policies will not cover the source of the water damage. So while your policy may cover the cost of tearing out and replacing that damaged floor, you shouldn't expect it to cover the cost of replacing your broken dishwasher or washing machine.
Water backup from an outside sewer or drain: You also will not typically be covered by a traditional homeowners policy if water backs into your home through an outside sewer or drain. You may, however, be able to purchase additional sewer or water backup coverage that may help provide protection in case of such an event.
Flood: No type of flood damage, no matter the source of the water, is covered by standard homeowners policies. Flooding, for example, can occur from storms, over-saturated ground, overflowing or surging bodies of water such as rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans, You can, however, purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.
HOW CAN I HELP PREVENT DAMAGE?
Of course, you'd probably prefer not to have to deal with a soggy situation in the first place. You can help prevent the inconvenience — and mess — that often accompanies unexpected water damage. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety suggests the following:
- Inspect hoses to washing machines, water heaters, dishwashers and refrigerator ice makers for wear regularly and replace as needed (or at least every five years).
- Be careful not to crimp a water hose or pull it loose when moving a dishwasher, washing machine or refrigerator.
- Drain water heaters every six months to prevent sediment buildup.
- Help prevent frozen pipes by maintaining the heat in your home, insulating pipes, and opening cabinet doors to expose pipes to warm air.
- Inspect the water shut-off valve regularly and replace if needed.
While it's important to keep up with home maintenance to help prevent any damage from water, it's also a good idea to check with your agent about what is and isn't covered by your homeowners policy. Be sure to ask if there are any additional coverages available that may be appropriate for your home.
What To Do When A Home Suffers From Water Damage
When a major storm passes close to the house, the home may suffer water damage that is difficult to repair. There are many things a family can do to begin repairing any destruction, but a certified professional will likely be needed to get rid of any serious health or structural threats. Contaminated storm surges or floods can carry pathogens and become a breeding ground for mold. If allowed to fester, these mold spores can spread throughout the building and become even more difficult to remove. In many cases, governmental agencies could condemn the structure if the microbial threat is too great.
The main reason why a home is sensitive to water damage is because moisture is difficult to detect once the floods recede. Standing liquids can encourage microbial growth within 24 hours and can saturate all kinds of textiles and seep through drywall. Moisture may collect behind the walls, where mold and bacteria may multiply out of sight. If a family reacts quickly enough, clothes and furniture may be saved. However, people must be careful when entering a building that has recently been flooded. Exposure to wildlife and contaminated liquids can result in serious injury.
Before entering a home affected by water damage, make sure the electrical power is shut off. Exposed wires or plugged in devices can electrocute people, resulting in major injury or even death. Also, it’s best to move slowly through the building when re-entering it for the first time. Snakes, reptiles or rodents may be hiding under debris and could lash out and bite suddenly. To protect against wildlife and airborne contaminants, wear protective clothing from head to toe, including a vapor respirator, rubber gloves and eye protection. Also, wear thick boots that can withstand puncturing and animal bites.
Professional restoration services can quickly identify what items in the home are compromised by water damage. Normally, anything that is porous may need to be discarded if it has come in contact with contaminated fluids. These items, like mattresses, box springs, pillows and particle board, trap more moisture than other materials and foster the growth of microbes. A family can prepare for professional cleaning by getting rid of these items before the technicians arrive, butbe sure to properly record and itemize the items for insurance purposes prior to disposing.
Once professionals arrive at the building, they will be able to track down any pockets of excess moisture and remove them. Certified technicians can locate these pockets of moisture using equipment that measures the moisture in hidden pockets and behind tile and other materials that may not feel wet on the outside. When these moisture pockets are found, the technicians will expose them to air by removing any drywall or other materials in the way. Once the location of the moisture has been determined, the professionals will begin the clean-up process that may include pressure washing the area with powerful detergents. These technicians are also able to speed up the drying process to prevent the growth of any molds or other harmful bacteria. If the professional locate mold or bacteria colonies, they will know how to identify and remove the threat using chemical or mechanical methods.
It’s important for a family to hire professionals that are certified through a reputable organization. SERVPRO technicians trained in this area know how to find compromised areas and do what it takes to restore them. Our employees are trained and certified through IICRC (The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification)
Did you know that SERVPRO also cleans up sewage backups?
Did you know that SERVPRO also cleans up sewage backups?
Sewer backups should be considered an emergency since the water may contain viruses, bacteria, and other microbes that cause serious illnesses. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals have specialized training and equipment to quickly and safely clean contaminants like sewage.
Water damage can be classified by the three types of contaminated water. SERVPRO technicians will inspect your home or business to determine the appropriate plan of action for the type of water encountered.
The three types of contaminated water:
Category 1: "Clean Water"
Category 1 water is from a clean source like a broken water supply line or leaking faucet. If not treated quickly, this water can turn into category 2 or 3, depending on length of time, temperature, and contact with surrounding contaminants.
- Water from a clean source like a broken water line
- If left untreated, can degrade into category 2 or 3
Category 2: "Gray Water"
Category 2 water is contaminated and could cause discomfort or illness. Examples include washing machine overflow; toilet overflow with some urine, but no feces; or dishwasher overflow.
- May contain bacteria and viruses
- Can quickly degrade into category 3 if left untreated
Category 3: "Black Water"
Category 3 water is grossly contaminated and could cause severe illness or death if ingested and any contact should be avoided. Examples include flooding from rivers or streams, water from beyond the toilet trap, water from the toilet bowl with feces, or standing water that has begun to support microbial growth.
- May contain untreated sewage, harsh chemicals, and microbes
- Water from flooding rivers or sewer backup
24 Hour Emergency Service
Water contaminated with sewage backup should be considered an emergency situation and dealt with as quickly as possible. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our specialists are always here with specialized training, equipment and protective gear to safely restore your home or business.
Toilet Overflow or Sewer Backup?
Call our office today 1-740-534-9210 or 1-740-442-4631
7 Ways To Help Prepare Your Home For Winter
Protect your largest asset from the weather.
Winter is on its way and, for most of the country that means freezing temps, wind, snow, ice and heavy jackets.
To prepare your home and your household for the colder months ahead, review this handy checklist, which is designed to help you be more prepared for whatever old man winter has in store. Please keep personal safety in mind when checking items off this list, and connect with a trusted professional or contractor for help with anything you are unable to do yourself
1. Invest in weather stripping
Weather stripping is a good way to help seal warm air in and cold air out of your home. Available in almost any hardware store, weather stripping installs quickly around windows and doors and can help prevent air leaks.
Before winter arrives, check the following parts of your home for leaks or drafts:
- Vents and fans
- Plumbing areas
- Air conditioners
- Mail chutes
- Electrical and gas lines
2. Clean your gutters
Clear gutters help drain water away from your roof and your house. If they're clogged however, especially in colder months, they're more apt to freeze, causing additional blockages. Blocked gutters can allow melting ice and snow to seep into your roof, or flood your home's foundation, causing damage.
If it's safe to do so, take some time before winter hits and clear out your gutters, or work with a trusted roofing professional or contractor to have your gutters cleaned.
3. Evaluate your roof to prevent ice dams
While a roofing professional is cleaning the gutters, see if he or she can evaluate your roof for ice dams too.
In cold weather, heat escaping your home can melt and refreeze ice and snow on your roof, leading to ice dams. These block off drains, and let water and ice continually build up on your roof – and possibly under it – weakening your roof and putting your home at risk.
To help prevent ice dams:
- Insulate your attic - Your attic should have plenty of insulation to prevent too much heat transfer from your living areas to the attic. Check parts of the attic that may not be well insulated, like:
- Pipes and vents
- Chimney systems
- Light fixtures
- Ventilate your attic - If your attic wasn’t built with a ventilation system, contact a trusted professional or contractor about ventilating your attic before winter. Proper ventilation allows cold air into the attic, while the insulation seals heat in your living areas. This can help prevent warm air from melting ice on the roof, leading to possible damage.
4. Buy a roof rake to keep snow from building up
According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IIBHS), an average roof can handle up to four feet of fresh snow before it’s stressed. However, as snow packs down from multiple storms, could cause a roof collapse!
If you expect a lot of snow this winter, invest in a roof rake. It can help you easily clear snow off your roof and protect your home during those blizzard months.
5. Prune trees around the house
If there are long tree branches hanging near your house, your roof, or your gutters, prune them before it gets too cold. Branches broken from heavy snow and ice can cause all kinds of damage to your home. A few hours with the pruner now could save you thousands of dollars in damages later this winter.
6. Stock up on basics
You know what happens when the news calls for bad weather; stores flood with people, all buying milk, bread, batteries, flashlights, and duct tape by the truck load. How do you avoid this mess?
Stock up on basic supplies before winter, and stay cozy in your home.
Strong winds, blizzards, ice, and snow can cause blackouts and power outages, which can wreak havoc on your home in the winter. To prepare, keep supplies on hand, and read more about the types of alternate heating sources available for purchase.
7. Protect pipes from freezing
According to the IIBHS, a burst pipe can cause more than $5,000 in water damage! Thankfully, you can do something to help protect your pipes from freezing in bitter cold weather.
Don't turn the heat down too much when you’re out of the house. You may not be there to enjoy it, but your pipes need the heat to prevent freezing.
Let faucets drip during serious cold snaps to provide relief for your pipes.
Give your home a once over for any exposed or vulnerable piping, and wrap them with insulation. Hardware stores usually carry foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves for pipes, which are easy to install.
Caulk up cracks or holes in your walls to keep cold air away from pipes. This might not be practical for the average homeowner, so speak to a trusted contractor.
If your pipes do freeze, and water stops flowing from faucets, call a plumber immediately!
What is Sewer Backup??
Cleaning Up after Sewer Backup
While floods are probably best known for causing extensive water damage to homes and businesses, they can also cause sewage from sanitary sewer lines to back up into houses through drain pipes. These backups not only cause damage that is difficult and expensive to repair, but also create health hazards.
Most homeowner and business insurance policies do not cover sewer backup unless specific sewer backup coverage is added to the policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). “Obtaining an insurance rider on a homeowners or business policy would cover such damage if it occurs,” said Loretta Worters, vice president, I.I.I.
“Sewer backup coverage is available from most insurers for a nominal cost, usually $40-$50 on an annual insurance policy,” she said.
Most homeowners and business owners may not realize that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their house or sewer lateral – the pipeline between the city sanitary sewer main, usually located under the street, and the building. The sewer lateral is owned and maintained by the property owner including any part that may extend into the street or public right of way. A cracked or deteriorated lateral or one filled with tree roots can allow groundwater to seep into the system, contributing to the possible sewer backup problems.
Causes of Sewer Backup
Blockages due to Tree Roots: Shrubs and trees seeking moisture can make their way into sewer line cracks causing extensive damage. They may start out small, getting into a small crack in the pipe; but as the tree or shrub continues to grow, so does the root. Tree roots can enter the service pipe at joints and cause blockages. They can also travel a long way, and roots from different types of trees act differently. If you suspect that city trees are responsible for sewer line damage, your plumber can contact the city and samples of the roots will be used to help identify the trees and who is responsible for cleanup. Sometimes a blockage is the result of a combination of city and private trees. In this case costs are split between the city and property owner.
Sanitary Main: A blockage can occur in a city sanitary main. If the blockage is not detected in time, sewage from the main can back up into homes and businesses through floor drains. Usually this happens slowly, giving the owner time to call a licensed plumber to assess the damage. If water is entering your basement at a rapid rate, call the city public works office and report the problem immediately so that a city operator can investigate.
Water in Basement: Most basement flooding is not related to the sanitary sewer system. In many cases, soil settles adjacent to the building and, if not corrected, leads to rainwater flowing towards the building and down the outside of the foundation wall. This is particularly true in older buildings where cracks may have developed in the foundation or floor slab which allow water to enter the basement. The cement floor and basement walls of these structures may have deteriorated to the point that they are no longer waterproof. Thus, water can show up in a basement which has never had a water problem. This frequently happens when the ground is saturated after repeated or heavy rain storms. Drainage can be improved by making sure that water drains away from the building. Homeowners can also prevent flooding by water-sealing the basement.
Homeowners and business insurance do not cover flood damage: Only flood insurance will cover your losses in the event of a flood. Federal flood insurance policies can be purchased directly from an insurance agent or a company representative, and are available to communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. Nearly 100 insurance companies write and service NFIP policies. In order to find an agent or company servicing your area, visit www.floodsmart.gov or call (888) 379-9531. Your insurance agent or broker can handle the claim for you.
Ways to Prevent Backups in Your Lateral and in the City Main
Dispose of Grease Properly: Cooking oil should be poured into a heat-resistant container and disposed of properly, after it cools off, not in the drain. Washing grease down the drain with hot water can cause significant problems. As the grease cools off, it will solidify either in the drain, the property owner's line, or in the main sewer causing the line to constrict and eventually clog.
Dispose of Paper Products Properly: Paper towels, disposable (and cloth) diapers, and feminine products can cause many problems in the property owner's lateral as well as in the city main because they do not deteriorate quickly, as bathroom tissue does.
Replace your line with new plastic pipe: One way to prevent tree roots from entering your line is to replace your line and tap with new plastic pipe. If you still have problems with tree roots growing in your lateral, you may have to have roots cut periodically.
Illegal Plumbing Connections: Do not connect French drains, sump pumps and other flood control systems to your sanitary sewer. It is illegal, and debris and silt will clog your line. Consult a plumber to correct any illegal connections.
Install a Backwater Prevention Valve: A backwater valve is a fixture installed into a sewer line, and sometimes into a drain line, in the basement of your home or business to prevent sewer backflows. A properly installed and maintained backwater valve allows sewage to go out, but not to come back in. Property owners are responsible for the installation and maintenance of backwater valves. The cost to install one depends on the type of plumbing in your home or business and the difficulty of installation. Check with a qualified plumber.
What to do if you Experience a Sewer Backup
A sewer backup can lead to disease, destruction of your valuables, damage to your house or business, and can even result in electrical malfunctions. Prompt cleanup of the affected property can help minimize the inconvenience and prevent mold and further damage. In the event of sewer backup, immediately arrange for the cleanup of your property.
Give SERVPRO of Southern Scioto & Lawrence Counties a call and we can take care of it for you!!! 740-534-9210
Southern Scioto & Lawrence Counties 24 Hour Emergency Water Damage Service
SERVPRO of Southern Scioto & Lawrence Counties provides 24 hour fire and water damage restoration service in Southern Scioto & Lawrence Counties.
We Answer the Phone Ready to Help
Call Today - 740-534-9210
We understand that when you call us, you may be feeling confused, stressed, and vulnerable. You need an expert to guide you through this crisis. SERVPRO of Southern Scioto & Lawrence Counties has the specific water damage training and experience to help you through this tough time. We specialize in water damage restoration—in fact, it's the cornerstone of our business.
What to Expect
When you call, we will ask several questions regarding your water damage emergency. These questions will help us determine what equipment and resources to bring, including how many trained SERVPRO Professionals may be needed.
Our SERVPRO Representative will ask several questions:
- Your name and contact information
- Your insurance information (if applicable)
- The street address of the water-damaged home or business
- When did the flooding or water damage occur?
- What caused the water damage (if known)?
- Is there electricity available (on-site)?
About SERVPRO of Southern Scioto & Lawrence Counties
SERVPRO of Southern Scioto & Lawrence Counties specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.