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Water Damage in Your Home: What You Need to Know

What are the common causes of home flooding?

When most of us hear the word flood our minds go to natural disasters and Mother Nature wreaking havoc. However, this is not the only cause of a home flood. Water damage can be caused by a variety of problems inside the home. According to the Insurance Information Institute, water damage is the second leading cause of home insurance claims and costs an average of $9,600.

Home flooding can happen for many different reasons, some of the most common are:

                        •           Broken pipes and hoses
                        •           Clogged toilets and drains
                        •           Poorly maintained appliances
                        •           Neglected hot water heaters
                        •           Poor yard drainage
                        •           Cracks around windows and in the foundation

What do I do if I experience a flood?

Sometimes, it's too late for prevention, but there are still things that you can do to minimize flood damage once a flood or a leak has occurred in your home. While flooding itself does a lot of visual damage, there is even more damage that often goes unseen. Floods can cause mold and moisture buildup in walls, under carpets, and other areas of the home that may not be noticeable.

Once a flood has occurred the most important thing to do to protect your home is water removal. The faster the water removal, the less damage you will have. Removing the water can be extremely difficult. Often it is a good idea to call in a water removal company that has industrial strength equipment to get your home safe and dry as soon as possible. This can help you avoid things like mold or prevent further water leakage throughout your home.

Why should I hire a professional water removal company?

Without having a professional company come out and examine the mess, you may not realize the extent of the damages. Other problems could arise later that could pose additional issues to the home's structural integrity and even to your health. Mold can cause serious health issues and it often goes unseen and unnoticed for extended periods of time. You may not realize that an illness months after a flood can potentially be due to the growth of mold that is in the walls, carpets, or even in your HVAC systems. This can lead to serious, and even fatal illness.

If you decide to hire a professional water removal company they will often bring in industrial strength fans to help with the removal of water. Once they have removed all the water they will dry flooring and drywall. They may even have to peel back carpeting to dry the padding underneath. You may not realize that even if the water on the carpet has been removed if the padding is wet beneath, it will not dry causing more issues in the future. Drying the padding may be able to preserve your carpeting.

What does my insurance cover?

Most insurance companies will cover water damage if the cause is sudden or accidental, however, they will not cover damages due to homeowner negligence. Your policy will most likely cover a burst pipe or a broken washing machine supply hose, but usually insurance will not cover damage due to an unresolved maintenance issue such as a leaky faucet. It is also important to note that while insurance may cover the damage it most likely will not cover the source of that damage, such as your washing machine. Every policy if different so it is a good idea to check yours or contact your insurance agent.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, one way to think of it is that homeowners insurance usually covers water damage that comes from the top down. Whether it is a broken pipe or a rain damaged roof. Most insurance policies do not cover water damage from the bottom up, such as a backed up sewer drain or an overflowing river. Flood insurance of this kind is most likely a separate purchase through the National Flood Insurance Program.

What should I do about my claim?

The most important thing is to start your claim right away. Having a home inventory will greatly help with the claims process. Report your loss to your insurance carrier or agent immediately. Make sure to take photos or videos of all flood damaged areas in the home before moving or throwing anything out. After photos are taken make sure that you throw out anything that can be dangerous such as food or bedding. Once you have done this, the clean up may begin.

While it is impossible to completely prevent every flooding scenario, a few simple adjustments to your home can seriously reduce your risk. Installing an automated water shut off valve, installing braided metal hoses on your appliances, maintaining your hot water heater and gutters, and getting an annual plumbing inspection are all great ways you can protect your home from floods and water damage.

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