For today’s post we thought we’d do something a little different. We spend a lot of time educating people about the restoration, damage and clean up services we offer so we’re interested, how much do you already know? This little quiz will help you find out!
When a pipe bursts, a drain backs up, or a flood occurs in your home, it can be hard to see past the mess and a million questions will run through your mind.
What should I do now?
Is all of our stuff ruined for good?
And then maybe the most important question of all: Will my homeowner’s insurance cover the damage?
There’s no two ways about it. Water damage is extremely stressful, but the more you know about it, the better you’ll be able to decide how to address it if it happens to you. Here are four very important things that every homeowner needs to know about water damage.
Not all water damage is always covered by your insurance
Want to do something proactive right now? Look over your home owners insurance policy and familiarize yourself with any exclusions to your water damage coverage. Almost all policies cover sudden damage – damage from a really bad storm or from an overflowing washing machine – but sometimes water damage that happens because you didn’t maintain the property may be excluded. Which means if you have been putting off fixing that little leak it’s time to get it taken care of right now…
Once water damage has happened, the clock is ticking
When it comes to water damage you simply don’t have the luxury of scheduling a convenient time to start the cleanup. Secondary damage from mould growth can begin as little as 24-48 hours. You see, in every day life mould spores are everywhere, but they need moisture and a nutrient source to grow. And that is exactly what your wet carpet or drywall offers them in abundance and they take advantage very, very quickly.
To prevent mould growth, you will need to get your property completely dry again very quickly. To do this, you’ll need to contact a company that specializes in water damage restoration to come in asap.
Your insurance company needs to know right away
Try to call your insurance company right away when you discover water damage so that you can ‘get the ball rolling’ as soon as possible. When you do, your insurance company may direct you to a water damage restoration company that they have worked with in the past. Keep in mind though that you do not have to call the company that they recommend. You have the freedom to choose any reputable restoration specialist to work with you to restore your home.
The pollution level of the water is important
In our industry, water damage is categorized as one of three levels by how polluted the water source was that caused the damage.
Category 1: Water from a clean water source, like a fresh water line for a dishwasher. This water will not cause illness or any ill effects.
Category 2: Water that may cause illness through contact. It may have bacteria in it,
Category 3: Water that is highly contaminated. Contact can cause severe illness or death. Think sewage backup, an overflowing toilet, or storm waters.
In the case of any water damage incident, even though water may start out as Category 1, that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Any contamination that the water touches, such as dirty carpeting or soil from the ground, can change the water damage Category to 2 or even Category 3. And since standing breeds bacteria, the longer the water is around, the worse the contamination of your property. Just another very important reason that you will need to take action right away.
The summer should be all about sun, sea, and maybe a bit of sand if you can spare the time to head out to beach somewhere, although a backyard weekend cookout isn’t a bad substitute if you can’t. However, summer storms can put a damper on all of that in an instant.
Spoiling your day is not the only thing summer storms can do, however short in duration they turn out to be. Summer storms can be very powerful things. The two biggest threats associated with most thunderstorms are lightning and flash floods, and these can result in serious, unexpected damage to property anywhere, including your home.
While you cannot prevent summer storms – or even really accurately predict just when they will hit, no matter how many weather forecasts you monitor – there are some measures you can, and should, take to protect your home from the ravages of a summer storm.
Check Your Insurance
This is actually something you should do before the summer and storm season arrives. And more than just making sure that your homeowner’s policies covers everything it should you should also have a look at just what kind of policy you have. Is it ACV or RCV policy?
ACV stands for actual cash value, while RCV stands for replacement cost value. The former will mean your insurance company will only pay for what your property was worth before the storm while the latter means your insurance pays current market value of the property loss. And it does not take a rocket scientist to work out that RCV is almost certainly the better bet and so if you have an ACV you way want to investigate swapping it out for an RCV before the potentially damaging summer storm clouds begin to loom.
Check Your Trees
Fallen trees are one of the most common results of any fierce – or even semi fierce – summer storm and they can cause untold damage, especially if they fall on your power lines, your home, or even both.
The problem with many trees is that, to the naked eye they can often look just fine, nice and sturdy, and yet by hiding a problem that may make them a real hazard in a storm. There are some extra clues you can look for though.
If a tree has only sporadic leaf cover in the spring, if it seems to have spots that sparser in terms leaves than others – or outright ‘bald patches’ – that is often a good indication that it has a health problem. In addition if the land around your trees is uneven, especially if there is a hump or pivot on one side of the tree you might have a root problem that could eventually cause the tree to fall over, and a summer storm could easily knock it over in one fell swoop.
If your trees are worrying you call in a professional. The extra expense versus the hassle, pain and heartache a fallen tree can cause will be well worth it.
Check the Basement
If you have a sump pump in the basement then that is indeed a great protection against damage from summer flooding. But unless you have it hooked up to an efficient battery back up it may end up being next to useless in a summer storm as another common effect of any storm is knock out the mains power for hours, if not days. If you sump pump cannot function when the lights go out then that is a situation you need to remedy now.
Have All the Right Numbers Handy
The aftermath of a storm that has damaged your home can be a scary and upsetting time. But once you have established that everyone in your household is OK then it is time to take a deep breath and begin to implement the clean up process by getting all the right professionals involved as soon as you possibly can.
Call your insurance company, call a water damage remediation specialist if flooding is involved and call a builder is there are immediate structural issues. And to make of all this easy make sure that you have the numbers for all of these people handy, not just stored on your cellphone but on a list tucked away in your wallet as well.
We have written here a number of times about the importance of gutter maintenance to your home, but there are still many homeowners who simply don’t pay enough attention to them, so we’re going to do it again! This post was inspired from a media story unfolding down in the US. One of their NFL teams, the Minnesota Vikings are, like many professional sports teams in the last few decades, having a new stadium built. And everything seemed to be going well.
To the casual observer, the new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis looked great, the epitome of a shiny 21st century upgrade, just what the team needed to replace the aging Metrodome. However, apparently building inspectors called in to give their seal of approval to the new structure have discovered that leaks in the brand new snow gutter system have already caused about $4 million worth of serious water damage. The leaks caused water to collect, unseen, behind the stadium siding, and according to contractors, fixing it will be a big operation. They’ll get it done before the season starts they say, but it will cost a lot in terms of money and person power.
This all brings us to your gutters. If a brand new state of the art building can suffer so much damage because of leaky guttering, what could bad guttering do to yours? Its more than leaks you have to be concerned about too, gutter issues that can lead to water damage come in a number of guises, some less obvious than others. Here, as a reminder, refresher and a spring maintenance check list are some of the things you should definitely be on the look out for when it comes to the gutters protecting your home from water damage:
Clogged Gutters – This is the most obvious issue. Gutters that are clogged with debris cause water to stagnate in pools rather than run off properly and this can lead to all kinds of issues including erosion, mosquitoes, rust through, roof damage, foundation damage, siding damage, and damage to the gutter and roof support system from excess weight.
Missing Drains or Splash Blocks – When water leaves the downspouts at the bottom of a gutter it must be directed safely away from the house. Newer homes usually have underground drainpipes connected to the downspouts while older homes carry the water safely away by means of “splash blocks” mounted at the bottom of a gutter, directly where the water will drain down to. Without either of these things rest assured that water will find its way into and under the foundation which can lead to standing water in a crawl area, mould, mildew, foundation settlement and dry rot.
Defective Pitch – The way in which gutters are pitched is very important as well. If they are out of alignment, even by a few centimeters, not all of the water will make it into the downspout to be drained away. Instead some with either stagnate in pools or may even seep directly into the structure of the home, basically putting your home at the same risks as it would be if the gutters were clogged.
Poor Flashing at the Eaves- A lack of proper flashing between the back of the gutters and the wooden support structure of the roof is a rather common problem that many homeowners do not even properly understand. Without good flashing, bare wood is exposed to the water and debris passing through the gutters, potentially leading to dry rot, termites, roof rot and even insect infestations (yuck).
With all of this in mind though we do understand that most people are not gutter experts and so calling in a pro, for an initial inspection at least, is usually the best idea. Some basic maintenance, especially keeping gutters clean, you can often take care of yourself and it’s worth keeping in mind that the expense of hiring on a gutter service is nothing compared to the hassle and expense that many of the problems we just described would cause!
Water damage often affects far more than just the structure of a home, all too often it involves many of your belongings as well. And it is the damage to these that many people we are called by find most distressing. But what they discover – and many don’t actually realise about us – is that helping save as many of them as possible is actually a standard part of Restoration 1’s water damage restoration service. Here’s a brief overview of just what we commit to do for all of our customers.
General Content Restoration
The worst happened. You had a flood. Your sofa is soaked. The bottom and sides of your china cabinet is soaked. Your cat’s bed floated away a while ago. And you don’t even want to think about the state your once lovely carpet is going to be left in once the bulk of the water has been removed. It’s not a situation you ever imagined you’d be in and you really don’t know where to start.
The fact is that we’ll do all the hard work. And yes we know, many of your possessions have some serious sentimental value and while your insurance may replace some of them things just won’t be the same. That is why we maintain a ‘restore vs. replace’ mentality and employ a number of different methods to get the job done and ensure as far as possible that everything is not only dry but clean – and where appropriate sanitized – as well.
The Delicate Stuff
OK, so that’s all well and good for the big stuff, the furniture, the carpets etc, but what about all the little things? The family photos, your baseball card collection, your kids smartphone that they left on the floor. Can we help there? We will certainly try. Many issues – especially document restoration and electronics servicing – can be dealt with by our trained in house techs and we will also help find someone who can help if we can’t.
In some cases the most efficient way to get things cleaned up within the home is to move everything out. if that’s the case then we’ll help with that process too.
All of the insurance paperwork that comes along with a water damage incident can seem pretty darn overwhelming and you are already hardly feeling at the top of your game after all that has gone on. Doing what we do we have had to develop a strong knowledge of just how all that paperwork should be filled out and just what the insurance adjusters need to know. We’ll help you with all of it and even intervene on your behalf when and if needed.
In the end our job at Restoration 1 Kitchener is a lot more than just cleaning up the mess left behind after a flood or fire. It’s about bringing people peace of mind when they most need it and although we can’t change what happened we can make it as bearable as possible!
Most homeowners know that they should maintain their gutters better but somehow for a lot of people that task gets pushed right to the bottom of their around the house to do list. Cleaning and maintaining gutters yourself is tricky – even downright dangerous at times – and calling a professional gutter maintenance company is easy but many people put off spending the money to do so.
Gutter maintenance is certainly not a glamorous concept. Having your living room repainted or buying a new carpet, now those are home improvement projects you can get excited about. Gutter cleaning? Not so much, which is why it gets so easily overlooked.
To say that this can turn out to be a big mistake might be something of an understatement. Overflowing and leaky gutters can cause all kinds of water damage related problems – everything from causing cracks in your home’s foundation to interior leaks in in your walls and ceilings. In fact its amazing – but not very funny – when you realize just how much harm overflowing gutters can cause.
Gutters and Home Owner’s Insurance
Another reason that gutter maintenance is so important is that if an overflowing gutter is shown to have been the cause of certain types of damage to your home then there is a good chance that your homeowner’s insurance may not completely cover the cost of making any necessary repairs.
The problem is that most homeowner’s insurance policies have a clause that states the homeowner is expected to maintain a basic standard of home maintenance at all times. And as gutter cleaning is pretty basic many insurance adjusters see a clogged gutter as a sign of neglect on the part of the homeowner and reduce the amount of the payoff.
Getting out a ladder and climbing up to the roof yourself can be a very daunting prospect, of that there is no doubt. Even if you have a good head for heights cleaning a gutter efficiently by yourself is a pretty tough prospect as well. For those reasons calling in the pros is usually the better solution if you live in anything but a single story home.
In terms of costs a regular, bi annual or quarterly gutter cleaning is more affordable than you might imagine and you should actually think of it as a moneysaver and a potential homesaver. After all, if paying for a day of the services of a professional gutter maintenance company can save you from being stuck with a bill for – and the sheer inconvenience of – repairing a cracked foundation or a ceiling that caved in thanks to a water leak then it really is an investment well worth making.
Water has damaged your home. And while that is in no way any fun at all, at least your homeowner’s insurance is going to cover the cost of the cleanup and remediation right? That’s a relief at least. Except if you are not the kind of person who pays minute attention to the insurance coverage you buy and pay for then sadly, in some cases, the answer might be no.
In Canada, your basic property owner’s insurance will cover certain kinds of water damage pretty much as standard. If a pipe burst on your washing machine and flooded the laundry room then yes, your insurance should help pay to fix the damage. By the same token if a particularly bad rainstorm causes water to enter your home (maybe because it breaks a hole in the roof or floods the basement) in most cases you will be covered.
In very basic terms almost all standard property owners insurance policies will cover ‘clean water damage’. What does that mean? Water that has not come from below ground or from a sewer, which is the case in both of the examples we cited above.
One thing to watch out for though; damage from frozen pipes. Technically this would be a clean water incident and you would imagine it would be covered. However, for many insurance companies this is a really grey area and coverage is not assured, especially if it can be proved you were away on vacation or something similar at the time.
Dealing with Dirty Water Damage Costs
A standard property owner’s insurance policy may or may not automatically cover ‘dirty water’ damage. Dirty water damage would be considered to be things like toilet overflows or flooding caused by a sewer pipe backup, even if the fault was not yours and the municipality you live in was actually responsible for maintaining the sewers involved.
Go through the small print on your policy and if you are not sure if dirty water damage is covered, give your insurance company a call to check. Even if it’s not though you can purchase add on insurance at a low cost to cover these kinds of dirty water incidents and it is something well worth considering given how much damage such things could cost.
Believe it or not right now, in Canada, you can’t actually purchase specific insurance that covers overland flooding. That is because, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada only a very small number of properties are at risk for such a thing. Therefore, in the eyes of the insurers there would be too few people paying in to such insurance to make it worth their while offering a specific overland flood insurance policy in the way that insurers in the US do.
So Do I Have the Right Insurance Coverage?
The only way you can accurately answer that question is to have a chat with your insurance broker. As your home is such a huge investment it always pays to be on top of things like this – and make sure you understand every last word of the fine print – anyway. It’s always better to be safe than sorry after all.