How to Prevent Water Damage

Insurance providers advise that water damage claims in individual residences have increased significantly over the past years. In addition to the costs to repair after these losses, relations with neighbours can be strained if they have also suffered damage to their property as a result.
The most common causes of water damage are:
  • Appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines whose pipes burst or become detached
  • Pipes that leak due to poor seals or corrosion
  • Pipes that freeze and burst due to lack of heat in a building or an open window in cold weather
  • Sump pump failure
  • Water that overflows when an unattended bathtub or sink is over-filled or a toilet is plugged
  • Water that seeps in through foundation cracks or door or window seals that have failed.
There are several steps you can take to prevent water damage. You should always contact a professional when your plumbing needs to be repaired or replaced and periodically inspect appliance connections to water and drainage lines. Ensure the washing machine is turned off when you’re not using it and check that the discharge hose is fastened properly. It’s also a good idea to install a check valve to prevent overflows.
Pay attention when filling tubs or sinks. If you go away to do something else while the water is running, you may become distracted and forget about it, resulting in an overflow. Don’t leave your dishwasher or washer running when you leave your home; if something goes wrong the water can flow the entire time you are gone causing considerable damage to your residence and possibly your neighbours too.
To prevent toilets from plugging, don’t put waste such as grease or cat litter down them. You can test to see if your toilet has a leak by putting a few drops of food colouring in the tank. If the colour shows up in the bowl, you have a leak.
If you are away from your home during the heating season, which is October to April, you must provide enough heat to maintain a minimum temperature of 14 degrees Celsius. It is also recommended you shut the water to your residence off at the source and drain lines to prevent water damage. Your home should be checked regularly while you are gone, in fact your insurance policy may require this in order for your coverage be valid. Check your policy or with your insurance provider.
If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a water loss, there are steps you should follow. The number one thing to do is stop the flow of the water. Sometimes this can be done by shutting it off at the source or using the shut-off valve on a toilet or sink. In a condominium situation though, you may not have access to be able to shut off the water. In that case, call your property manager to take the appropriate steps. Once the source of the water has been stopped and repaired, it is imperative to properly remove the water and dry out floors, ceilings, walls to prevent mould from forming. There are many companies that specialize in this type of remediation. Your property manager will likely engage such professionals as part of the insurance claim. For more information about condominiums and insurance, read our article on Condominium Unit Owner Insurance.
Don’t touch electrical wires, appliances or other devices, take an inventory of both the damaged and undamaged property, take pictures of the damaged property and keep all receipts for costs you may have paid out-of-pocket related to the cleanup.
Dealing with any type of insurance loss is stressful, frustrating and expensive. Knowing what you can do to prevent disasters, or deal with them if they occur, helps to try and mitigate the risk. Trust the experts at FirstService Residential to have the experience and processes in place to manage any type of emergency situation. With more than 40 years experience managing condominium communities, there isn’t much we haven’t already seen and handled. To find out how we can guide you through the challenges you may face, contact us.

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