Tips for Protecting a Home
There’s no need yet to acquire an ark, but water certainly has
become a bigger menace in many parts of the country. Even
storms that don’t escalate into the next Katrina or Sandy can still
destroy basements, foundations, roofs, and interiors that once
seemed immune to heavy rains.
To prevent damage and avoid large out-of-pocket expenses,
home owners should stay on top of maintenance and repair
needs. The average water damage insurance claim between
2008 and 2012 for a worst-case flood totaled more than
$38,000, according to National Flood Insurance Program data.
These are key steps home owners should consider to
protect their property from the ravages of water.
1. Block Water From Entry Points:
b Roof shingles that are missing or damaged need to be
replaced. Curling shingles can allow water to leak in, and
rusty nails or cupping shingles may indicate damage.
b Gutters and downspouts that are too narrow, aren’t
cleaned periodically, or aren’t pitched properly may permit
water to come too close to a house, seep in, and damage
the foundation, according to Wayne Owczarzak, owner of
Mr. Handyman in Wheaton, Ill.
b Windows and doors with broken glazing will likely allow in
water and should be repaired or replaced.
b Foundations, basement floors, and walls with cracks
are additional sources of water entering from the ground,
says Owczarzak. White haze, baseboard warping, and paint
cracking are all warning signs.
2. Put in a Second Line of Defense:
b Sump pumps collect water and send it away. Because they
operate electrically, a home owner may want to consider pur-
chasing a generator in case power goes out during a storm.
Pumps need to be cleaned periodically so silt from yard
waste doesn’t settle, says Randon Gregory with Ram Jack, a
foundation repair company in Ada, Okla.
b French drains collect water along the perimeter of a home
and direct it to a sump pump. Exterior waterproofing o;ers
even more protection.
b Interior drain tiles direct water that gets in to a drainage
system under the floor, which pumps it out.
b Boilers and furnaces should be elevated to keep from being
flooded, says builder Je;rey Collé of East Hampton, N. Y.
b Window wells should drain properly and be accessible for
debris removal. Precut ply wood to cover window glazing is
useful for hurricane-prone areas.
b Alarm systems in your home can connect to a computer,
the Internet, or a mobile device to warn you of impending
disaster. ConnectSense, for example, makes sensors that
monitor water and temperature extremes.
3. Buy the Right Insurance:
While home owners in high-risk zones must carry flood insurance, it might be wise for others who live near water, whether
a creek or an ocean, to do so as well. “Many claims come from
low-risk areas,” says Lisa S. Jones, owner of Carolina Flood
Solutions LLC. Advise your clients to buy a policy that covers all
possibilities, including “sudden water damage.” Condo owners
also need coverage. Take inventory, photograph valuables, and
save receipts of significant purchases for possible insurance
4. Act Fast if Water Pours in:
Water damage should be dealt with immediately to avoid more
costly problems, says Will Southcombe with PuroClean, a
property damage restoration franchise. “Time is your greatest
enemy. Bacteria can become activated, resulting in sour smells
and contamination. The cost [of waiting] can be five times
greater,” he says.
b Turn o; pipes once water starts flowing.
b Call in a damage restoration company—it can determine
where water has gone and where it’s headed. Pros will help
stop the flow, remove damaged property, dry the interior,
decontaminate to avoid mold, and demolish unsalvageable
b Prioritize people and pets. If water comes in fast and
furiously, get everyone out, says Southcombe. Never touch
wires that could shock you. Lives matter more than a house
and its contents.
By Barbara Ballinger PH
how to . . .
keep water at bay