Water Damage: Home maintenance is key
to preventing structural damage, insurance claims
SEATTLE - Summer is coming to an end and that means fewer fair
weather days to work outside. Now is a good time to do some simple,
preventative maintenance around your home to protect it from harsh
fall and winter weather.
If your home isn't properly maintained, it could be vulnerable
to water damage - one of the most costly Homeowners
Water running or dripping into your home from the outside can
rot drywall and support beams, crack foundation walls and cause
Homeowners policies do not cover water damage unless it is
the result of a covered peril such as a broken water pipe, fire
or windstorm. Damage from roof leaks, excessive condensation or
poor landscaping is excluded from coverage.
"Your Homeowners Insurance policy is there to help you recover
from large losses and shouldn't be considered a home maintenance
policy," said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. "It's
designed to cover sudden and accidental damage, not damage due
to gradual, preventable deterioration. It's important to remember
that your insurance company isn't responsible for the maintenance
of your home - you are."
Water damage, including frozen, burst pipes, accounted for 22
percent of all 2007 Homeowners Insurance claims in the nation,
according to the Insurance
Information Institute. The average claim was $5,531.
The good news is most water-damage losses are easily preventable
by taking some simple maintenance steps. NW Insurance Council
and the Institute
for Business & Home Safety offer these tips to help you prevent
future damage and thousands of dollars in repair costs:
- Inspect your roof. Remove leaves, branches and debris from
gutters to prevent water blockage and possible run-off into
- If you find a leak, clean and dry the exposed area and fix
the problem immediately.
- Routinely inspect ceilings, walls, floors and windowsills
for water stains, discoloration and musty odors.
- Routinely inspect attics, vents, ducts, washer hoses and outside
water sources for leaks.
- If your home's sewer system is connected to the city's sewer
system, or if you are located downhill or below street level,
contact a plumbing professional to install a backflow prevention
assembly into your sewer system.
- Check and replace heating system air filters.
- Inspect your water heater and conduct proper maintenance to
increase its life expectancy. Also, check your water heater's
- To reduce the risk of frozen pipes during the winter months,
set the thermostat to at least 60 degrees, insulate pipes and
let faucets drip when the weather outside is well below freezing.
- Properly ventilate bathrooms and kitchens to prevent moisture
- Inspect each toilet's components, such as the fill, supply
and flush valves and the supply line twice a year. Replace worn
or leaky components as needed.
- Use high quality silicone caulk to seal areas where cables
or pipes exit walls, such as around clothes dryers, kitchen
or bathroom vents and outdoor electrical outlets.
- Routinely caulk bathtubs, sinks, tile walls and floors to
prevent water seepage.
- To reduce flooding from poor drainage or excessive rainfall,
clear outside drains of debris and make sure your lot's grading
directs water away from buildings.
For free brochures, Protect Your Home From Water Damage and Maintenance
Guide For Your Home, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization
funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon