Wed, May 18, 2016

Welcome to Spring!

What a wonderful time of year; the sun starts to shine, the birds start to sing, and the snow starts to melt. All of these are great things; however, melting snow and spring showers can cause big problems. Fortunately, with proper maintenance and simply keeping an eye on things, you can prevent or minimize the effects of most water and water related damage.

What is Water Damage?

Water Damage is loss or damage to the building, contents, or scheduled articles from sudden and accidental water escape from sewer, sump pump, septic tank, or from downspouts or eaves troughs. Insurance does NOT cover damage from problems resulting from a lack of proper maintenance such as, but not limited to, dripping air conditioners or cracked foundations.

What Can You Do?

There are steps you can take to help reduce the chance of your property being damaged by water.

You can:

  • Maintain your home and/or business building
  • ensure the roof and shingles are not curling, worn or deteriorating;
  • put exterior hoses away for the winter – don’t forget to drain the pipe;
  • keep floor drains clear of obstruction;
  • ensure that there is proper grading around the building;
  • move large piles of snow away from your foundation;
  • keep eaves troughs and downspouts clear;
  • install a sump pump;
  • install backflow valves or plugs for drains, toilets and other sewer connections to prevent water from entering the building;
  • store important documents and irreplaceable objects (such as photographs) where they will not get damaged;
  • if you will be away from home during the winter for more than 3 days, turn off the water, drain the plumbing and all domestic appliances or arrange to have someone come in daily and check your home to ensure that your heat is still on.
  • elevate furnaces, hot water heaters and electrical panels in the basement on masonry or relocate these objects;
  • replace plastic or rubber water supply lines connecting appliances or plumbing fixtures in your home with flexible steel braded hoses;
  • consider connecting your plumbing and heating system to a 24-hour monitored alarm service;
  • consider installing a water sensor detection system with shut-off valves designed to turn off the water in the event of a plumbing failure;
  • avoid finishing areas like basements that may be prone to flooding; and
  • ensure you carry the sewer back up/water damage endorsement on your insurance policy.

What To Do in the Event of a Water Damage Loss?

Be careful!
Do not turn on any electrical switches until your electrical system has been checked. Turn off your main switch by standing on a dry surface and using a piece of heavy rubber, plastic or dry wood. If you have gas service, check for fumes. If you notice an odour, call the gas company immediately.

Protect it
Take steps immediately to protect your property from further damage. Board up holes or shut off water supplies to ensure your belongings are not damaged more than they have been. Move items out of wet basements and away from flooded parts of your building. Save receipts for materials you use. Your insurance company will likely cover any reasonable costs associated with protecting your property if the loss is covered by the policy.

Call your insurance representative
Let your insurance representative know what has happened as soon as possible. This representative will begin to work with you to ensure the damage is assessed, your insurance company is notified, and you are compensated as quickly as possible if the loss is covered by the policy.

Health hazards
During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home or business may appear to be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and reduce moisture and humidity can present serious long-term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for micro-organisms such as viruses, bacteria and mould. They can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions and continue to damage materials long after the flood.

What is Not Covered?

Vacant dwellings, dwellings under construction, and homes or businesses without the sewer back up/water damage endorsement will not be covered in the event of a water damage loss. As well, flood, seepage and leakage are not covered. Please check your policy to ensure you carry the appropriate coverage.

“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure” – Benjamin Franklin (who probably owned a cat or two in his time)