Rain, snow and ice can be lovely to watch when they’re outside your home. But when the water comes inside? Not so much. Water damage is one of the most common homeowners’ insurance claims, second only to wind and hail damage.
The tips below can help you protect your home and avoid being part of that statistic.
Fall maintenance chores
As soon as the weather turns cool, disconnect all outside hoses. Unless you have freezeproof faucets, drain the water line leading to the faucet as well, as well as any water lines in unheated spaces, such as garages.
Clean your gutters of leaves and other debris. Otherwise, snow and ice dams can build up and cause leaks and roof damage. Don’t forget to clean/unclog downspouts as well.
While you’re cleaning your gutters (or having them cleaned), inspect your roof as well. Loose, missing or curling shingles can provide an entryway for winter storms.
To keep your gutters and downspouts from clogging every year, fall is also an excellent time to remove or trim trees. Also, keep in mind that the roots of trees and shrubs can wrap around underground pipes and break them, which becomes expensive in a hurry.
Keep water outside
Before you finish your outside chores, walk the perimeter of your home and examine the landscaping. If the ground or any plantings slope towards the foundation, that can channel water towards your home. Over time, especially in a heavy storm, that water can find its way inside.
While you’re out there, caulk and seal windows and doorframes, and repair or seal any gaps in the siding.
A humid basement can be a sign that water is seeping in. Have it inspected by an expert and, if necessary, resealed.
Prevent leaks inside your home
Before disaster strikes, make sure you know where your main water shutoff valve is. In an emergency, shutting off the water quickly can be the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major disaster.
Check visible plumbing for leaks, and make sure that any pipes against outside walls are insulated. Pipes that freeze and burst are major headaches.
For peace of mind and an early warning system for problems, install water detection devices near your furnace and hot water heater. Put one near your sump pump, too, if you have one, and check the sump pump to make sure it’s operating properly. Your insurance company may even offer these devices at no or little cost. Once set up, they can alert your smartphone as soon as water is detected, potentially saving you from major damage and expenses.
Finally, look for signs of moisture, such as peeling paint or wallpaper or damp spots, as well as mold. These are often indications that water is leaking or seeping.
If your water bill suddenly seems high, that can mean a minor problem, such as a running toilet, or a major leak. Don’t just complain about the bill, but bring in a plumber or other expert to find the cause.
In the long run, preventing water damage is much easier and less expensive than dealing with the consequences of leaks or other issues in your home. Time spent inspecting and maintaining your home and preventing water damage claims is time and effort well spent.