A report revealed that 23.8% of insured US homes filed a claim for water damage and freezing in 2018. This represents a staggering 5.4% increase in the percentage of claims made in 2017. Insurers also had to pay out an average of $10,849 for these claims.
All those figures may now have made you wonder, “when does home insurance cover water damage?” Such policies only cover water damaged home repairs if the issue arose due to sudden cause. An example is water damage caused by a burst pipe.
Your homeowner’s policy won’t cover damage caused by ill-maintained plumbing systems. Neither will it cover you for damage caused by floods and plumbing back-ups.
For this reason, it’s best you learn the answers to the question, “how does water damage happen?” This way, you can take steps to proof your home from such destruction.
We rounded up the top causes of water damage in homes below, so be sure to read on.
Scientists say that 100-year floods can become one-year floods due to climate change. The most at risk are New England and other Northern US coastal towns. On the other hand, Southerners can experience these century floods every 30 years.
River floods alone already put almost 41 million US residents at risk. There are also 8.6 million who live in areas prone to coastal floods. Flash floods can also happen to anyone due to prolonged heavy rains (0.30 inches of rain per hour).
In many cases, weather-induced home water damage hit attics and basements the most. Attic water damage can occur due to roof leaks that worsen with continued rains. Water can penetrate basements through wall or foundation floor seepage.
The US experiences 23,000 to 75,000 sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) incidents each year. SSOs refer to the release of raw or partially treated sewage from sanitary sewers. They most often occur due to sewer blockages, but heavy rainfalls can make them worse.
SSOs occur because incoming wastewater can’t get past the sewer clogs. With nowhere else to go, the wastewater has to go back to the way it came from, which can be your house or the public drains. In either case, the backed-up water can infiltrate your home and cause water damage.
Sustained rain can make things worse because it adds more water load to the sewer system. With the sewer already clogged, all that “extra” water further overloads the pipes. In this case, the sewer systems “regurgitate” wastewater faster and in greater amounts.
In severe cases, the combined rain and human waste can create a lot of pressure inside the system. This can then rupture the pipes, increasing the amount of sewer overflow.
Residential Plumbing Backups
Previous studies found that over two in five SSOs occur due to blocked sewer lines. Fats, oil, and grease (FOG) are among the biggest culprits behind such clogs. If you always pour these down your sinks, it won’t take long before you experience a drain backup.
Wastewater backups usually occur in floor drains because of their lower placement. Homes with basements are most at risk, especially if the occupants don’t always use this room. If you have a basement you rarely use, you may not notice the backup right away.
If you encounter a plumbing backup, make sure you get in touch with a plumber right away. Wastewater is full of disease-causing microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Scientists even found wastewater samples to have up to 10 million virus particles!
Burst pipes often occur during winter when the temperature drops to a freezing point. The risk is much higher in uninsulated pipes, as well as those that already have existing cracks. The water they contain can freeze, expand, and exert enough pressure to rupture the pipes.
Gradual Water Damage and Penetration
Minor leaks in your roof, water supply lines, and drain pipes can result in gradual water damage. These often go unnoticed since the leaks can come from hidden sources, such as pipes inside walls. However, plumbing leaks are common: one in 10 US homes has leaks wasting away 90 gallons or even more a day.
Damaged gutters can also contribute to gradual moisture penetration in your home. For example, leaky gutters allow rain and melted snow to drip down your external walls. Over time, all that moisture can seep into the structure and cause degradation.
The same goes for leaky and drafty windows. Your window caulking may have deteriorated enough to let moisture penetrate the frame. Over time, this can result in rotting window frames that may spread to the surrounding wall.
What to Do With a Water Damaged Home
Regardless of the cause, your home may need emergency cleanup and total restoration. This is especially true for water damage caused by floods, SSOs, and drain backups. The water they bring into your home can harbor not only pathogens but deadly chemicals too.
You must dry your flooded or water damaged home as soon as it’s safe to do so, as molds can grow and spread within 24 to 48 hours.
You should also consider hiring an emergency water damage home repair service. These pros use high-efficiency pumps and sections to get rid of the remaining water. They also have powerful drying equipment that can help salvage your belongings.
Proofing Your Home
Flood insurance is one of the easiest ways to mitigate potential water damage risks. After all, inclement weather is mostly out of your control. Flood coverage protects you from losses and damages directly caused by a flood.
It’s also a good idea to have your plumbing systems inspected, cleaned, and serviced once a year. A plumber can also install a backflow prevention valve in your plumbing system. This can add a layer of protection to your home (especially the basement) against SSOs.
Don’t forget to insulate your plumbing pipes and to fix leaks as soon as you notice them! Also, talk to everyone at home about proper waste disposal, especially of FOGs. This way, you can keep your drain lines clear, reducing your risks of plumbing backups.
Don’t Let Your Water Damaged Home Become Uninhabitable
So long as you act promptly, you can still save your water damaged home from severe destruction. Better yet, do what you can to keep preventable damages from occurring in the first place. Don’t forget to buy flood insurance, whether you live in a flood-risk zone or not.
Ready for more tips and tricks to keep your home healthy, comfy, and safe? Feel free to check out our site’s many other home, living, and lifestyle guides then!