Did you know that water damage is the number one reason for home insurance claims in Ontario? Water leaks and seepage may not seem like serious causes for concern, but it can cost an average of between $1,100 to about $4,400 to do repairs and clean-up following an incident of water damage. The most common time of year for water damage to occur is typically with the onset of spring and the sudden melting of snow and ice, but water damage can technically occur year-round. Whether you own your home or rent it, water damage because of leaks, unexpected flooding, sewer backup, burst pipes, and so on can spell disaster for your home.
Protecting your home against water damage is not only essential, but it can result in lower home insurance costs as well. Insurance providers like to see that you, as the homeowner (or the renter), are looking after your property. The costs for ruined flooring, carpets, and even entire basements because of water damage are insurmountable next to the time, effort, and money that is required from you to protect your home. Besides, who doesn’t like saving on their insurance?
#1. Keep your home clear of debris.
Blockage can cause your drains, downspouts, and eavestroughs to overflow if they aren’t regularly maintained and cleared of leaves and debris. Make sure your downspouts are always pointed away from your home, and consider extending them away from the foundation of your home by around two meters. If your home’s foundation isn’t allowing the proper flow of water, consider correcting it so that water can drain away from your home rather than accumulating.
#2. Do tests and regular inspections.
Is your sump pump operating as it should? When was the last time you checked? Make sure you do routine maintenance of your home, especially around the springtime, and check to see if your home needs resealing or caulking – especially for doorways, roofs, and windows – and ensure that your appliances and faucets are leak-free. You may want to implement a shut-off system to reduce the chance of water damage occurring and building up with time. You may also want to inspect your showers to ensure there’s no cracking.
#3. Install emergency pressure release valves.
It’s better to be proactive than to be sorry if something does occur. To protect from pressure buildup that may occur during the winter because of freezing pipes, consider implementing emergency pressure release valves. Leak monitor systems and shut-off systems for your appliances are also valuable investments as they can reduce the risk of small issues worsening with time.
#4. Assess your appliances regularly.
When you purchase appliances, ensure that you always keep a copy of your manufacturer’s instructions for when you need to do routine inspections and maintenance. Your checklist should include your dishwasher and your washing machine, as well as your hoses (especially during the spring when you may be turning your outside faucets and hoses back on). Hoses that are in good condition shouldn’t show any sign of deterioration, like bulging or cracking. Braided steel hoses are preferable to rubber hoses and are less likely to burst.
#5. Put valuables up high and away from drains.
If you store any valuables in your basement, you may wish to put them in watertight containers so that they are protected if any flooding does occur. Keep boxes and furniture well away from floor drains. If you keep your antique wine collection downstairs in your basement that is worth thousands of dollars, you may want to consider moving it elsewhere or taking additional preventative steps to protect it – like sealing it up in a case and moving it away from any water entry points.
Sewer backup and overland water damage endorsements.
Sewer backup insurance and overland water damage are both home insurance endorsements you may be able to purchase (depending on your provider). Sewer backup insurance covers you if wastewater flows back into your home from main sewer lines, typically entering from the basement or anywhere that a blockage in your sewer systems or plumbing has occurred. Sewer backup insurance is important, especially given that the average cost of remediation for a flooded basement as a result of sewer backup can range into the tens of thousands. If you don’t have a sewer backup valve or a “backflow preventer” (basically toilet backflow prevention devices, typically costing between $3,000-$5,000 to buy and install) you should consider adding sewer backup insurance to cover an event where your basement floods.
Overland water coverage generally protects against loss or damages if water accumulates suddenly from external sources, i.e. from heavy rains, overflow from rivers and lakes, spring run-off, and more.
Home insurance endorsements can help extend your existing protection, but they cannot prevent the worst. Make sure you regularly look after your home, do regular inspections, and always know who to call if an emergency ever does happen.