Living in BC, it’s a common belief that fire is the number one cause of home insurance claims. In fact, water damage has now surpassed fire. The latest figures show that it accounts for 50% of all home insurance claims across Canada, approximately $1.7 billion each year. Even though your insurance is there to cover your financial losses if disaster strikes, it’s always better to take preventative measures to avoid claims in the first place. Here are a few ways you can keep water where it belongs to protect your home and belongings.
Tip #1 - Do Not Leave Appliances Running While Out of the Home.
How often have you turned the dishwasher on and walked out the door? Appliances have lifespans and they all eventually fail. If the hose on your dishwasher or washing machine were to crack and you left them running while out or on vacation, you could be coming home to a severely flooded home and thousands of dollars worth of property damage.
Tip #2 - Install a leak detection device.
A home leak detection device is a permanently installed valve that will minimize water loss and reduce damage caused by leaks and burst or frozen pipes. One such device, the AquaTrip, monitors the flow of water into a property and will shut off the water supply automatically if a leak is detected. The device is fully programmable to fit most properties with no interference of normal water use.
Tip #3 - Conduct routine inspections and keep up to date with regular maintenance.
This is just part and parcel of owning a home but it’s easy to neglect. Many common causes of water damage can be stopped by keeping on top of routine inspection and maintenance. Don’t rely on your memory – keep a checklist. Here’s a start:
- Know where shutoff valves for the main water supply, appliances, sinks and toilets are located. In the event of a leak, this will enable you to quickly shut off the appropriate valves before calling a plumber. Shut off your main water supply if you will be away from home for a week or more.
- Inspect your plumbing water lines and waste lines for leaks, damage or corrosion. Hire a plumber for further inspection and repairs.
- The average lifespan of a water heater is 10 years. If you notice puddles around your water heater, it should be replaced. Hire a plumber to inspect and flush your water heater annually. Water tanks should be located on pans connected to a drain.
- Washing machines, dishwashers, icemakers, air conditioners and garbage disposals all use water to operate. Inspect them for leaks, and periodically replace the supply hoses. Before leaving your home for an extended period of time, ensure that your washing machine hoses are braided and your water supply is shut off to the washing machine.
- If your basement is prone to leaks or flooding, a sump pump is the best defense. Most sump pumps last about 10 years. Follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for testing and optimal operation. The areas around the pump should be clear of debris. A battery backup is recommended to ensure proper operation during power outages.
- Keep drip pans clean and the drains lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
- Check caulking around tubs and shower stalls to ensure that a watertight seal is maintained. To reduce moisture, use an exhaust fan or open a window while showering.
- Periodically inspect your foundation walls and floors for cracks that might allow water seepage, especially if you live in an older home or an area with poor soil drainage. Avoid storing valuables in your basement.
- Ensure there is adequate ventilation in all attic and overhang areas to prevent leaks.
- Missing, worn or broken roofing materials may allow water to penetrate and deteriorate the roof structure. Inspect your roof periodically, especially after severe storms. Contact a roofer for further evaluation and repairs.
- Flashing is located at the intersection of all roof and wall lines, as well as along chimneys and roof valleys. Flashings may separate from adjacent surfaces and allow water to leak inside. A roofer can inspect these areas and make repairs.
- If you live in a cold climate, ice may form under snow that accumulates on the roof and overhangs. This can cause water to back up and leak into your attic and home. To prevent this, be sure there is adequate ventilation in all attic and overhang areas. Clear heavy accumulations of snow from the roof.
Other Exterior Areas
- If you live in a wooded area, falling leaves may clog the gutters and lead to water backup that could damage your exterior siding. In late fall, clear gutters and downspouts of leaves and debris. To minimize fire and gutter cleaning, make sure there is adequate separation between your buildings and trees and shrubs.
- Soil should be graded from the foundation so that water flows away from the house during rain or snow.
- Turn off exterior hose bibs during the winter or if you will be away from home for a long time.
- Regularly inspect terraces and balconies. Old or inferior flashing at the intersection of an outdoor terrace or balcony, located above a living area with a vertical exterior wall, can cause water leakage during rain or wind.
For more information and resources on minimizing the risks to your property and to ensure you have the adequate insurance coverage for your home, please contact a CapriCMW Personal Insurance Advisor.