How to Protect Your Home From Water Damage

A small amount of water can cause considerable damage to your home. Luckily, there are preventative measures homeowners can take to avoid financial loss due to severe water damage and mold growth.

Water damage is now the number one cause of insurance claims costing the Canadian Insurance Industry $1.7 Billion a year. There are several different types of water claims that occur but a few of the leading causes are due to burst pipes, faulty indoor appliances (hot water tanks, dishwashers, washing machines, etc), heavy rain and sewer back-up.

Here are a few simple steps you can do to help protect your home and your belongings from water damage.

Water heater maintenance
Water heaters should be partially drained every six months. This prevents sediment from building in the bottom of the tank which can cause erosion and rust. While you are draining the water heater, check the pipes for leaks.

Keep your roof in check
Inspect your roof annually for cracked or missing shingles, and/or pooling water. Clean and maintain gutters and downspouts. If there is debris, water may overflow onto the side of your house. To prevent ice dams in freezing weather, insulate your attic to prevent it from heating up.

Check your appliances
Inspect your dishwasher, washing machine and your refrigerator’s icemaker for cracks or leaks and replace them at least every seven years. Never leave the house while the washer or dishwasher are running.

Check showers and tubs
Check your bathroom walls and tiling for cracked or missing caulking and grout. Water can seep behind the tiles and leak down into other floors or create mold behind the walls. If you see cracks in the caulking, replace it.

Turn the water off before going away
Shut off the main water valve to your home if going away for an extended period of time. This should be done especially in winter to prevent your home’s pipes from freezing and subsequently bursting.  

Check sump pumps and floor drains
Don’t wait until a storm to find out your sump pump isn’t working properly. Check the pump’s discharge pipe at least once a year, and allow water to drain away from your home. If your sump pump is battery operated you should replace the batteries every two to three years. Keep floor drains clear and remove any material that could clog them.

Other ways to protect your home against water damage

Outside your home:

  • Ensure downspouts extend from your home by at least six feet
  • Remove debris that may have accumulated in downspouts and rain gutters.
  • Repair driveways and walkways
  • Inspect for patio deterioration and seal cracks
  • Wash and repair holes in window and door screens
  • Ensure the soil around your home slopes away from the foundation

Inside your home:

  • Seal any foundation, crawlspace, or basement crack, seepage or leaks
  • Inspect the attic for signs of roof leaks
  • Don’t pour grease down the sink, as it can cling to pipes and cause blockage.
  • Install backflow valves and standpipes at all basement drain locations, sinks and toilets.

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