Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | March 26, 2011

Leaks Are Nasty

With the colder weather moving off the coast and the long-awaited warmth on our doorstep, in comes the spring thaw. Thus hails the time to check for those pesky breaks in water lines that result from uninsulated domestic water lines, sanitary sewer or grey water systems. Left unchecked and you will be facing far more in repair cost and inconvenience to the quiet enjoyment of your home.

Water damage can appear slowly, such as a small water spot low on your wall, or it can be instantaneous. Either way, it almost always results in rotting wood, mold, rusting metal and devastating costs. We recommend acting quickly to prevent further damage by taking the following steps:

* Locate and shut off your main water supply line to prevent further water from entering your home. We are not necessarily speaking about the valve located out on the road by your water meter, but rather the tap generally at the front of your home, inside and at a low point on an outside wall — where your main water line comes into your home.

* Contact your insurance company as soon as you locate damage. Do this before you repair anything so that their adjuster can witness the extend of the damage. Do the repairs first and you will be left trying to convince the agency that there was damage in the first place and your invoices were not just cosmetic upgrades that you had wanted to do anyway.

* Determine what kind of water you are dealing with. There are three types of water that have varying effects on your health.

> Clean water typically results from an overflowing sink, a leaky appliance hose, or a ruptured water line, often times of which can be hidden within a wall. We had just such a problem when a pesky mouse decided to make our attic his home and chew through our half-in plastic water line in the ceiling of our living room. (Talk about messy and it took 6 weeks before the house was back to normal)

> Grey water is typically found near dishwashers, washing machines, bathtubs and sinks. It contains some contaminants and could cause sickness, but it is not as threatening as the following.

> Black water is the bad news boys of all water systems and no matter how little a quantity has found it way into your home, it should be dealt with extreme care. Primarily it is the result of a leak in your sewage system, maybe it is as simple as a cracked seal beneath your toilet, it can be as complicated as a broken 4 inch line covered by an interior wall, or a plugged drain line running beneath your basement floor. Whatever the cause, the liquid remains highly unsanitary and can cause serious illness if handled improperly. If you have a compromised immune system, respiratory problems, allergies, or if you have a family member under 2 years or an elderly member, remove them from the home as quickly as possible.

If you can determine the source of the leak, this will help the adjuster and then the contractor significantly, but in all cases think ‘safety first’.

Prop up your furniture in the area of water damage to keep it off the floor. Also, remove valuables and keepsakes. Avoid taking the wet furniture to a dry room as this could spread any mold spores and contamination. It too should be cleaned by professionals before reusing.

While we deal with property management issues, we are forced to deal with these kinds of situations far more frequently than we like. So from personal experience take our advice and never try to repair the damage on your own. If you have carpeted floors, the carpet and the underlay needs to be removed and either cleaned professionally, of if it is a matter of black water damage, they both should be replaced with new product. Where the damage is behind walls or ceilings, they need to be opened and aired long enough to remove all traces of moisture. Regardless, commercial dryers and dehumidifiers are a must and to use them effectively you need to have an instrument that is able to read the level of moisture remaining within the room. Miss any of these steps and that black ugly mold that the health authorities warn us about, will become an unwanted resident in only a matter of weeks.

Last, but not least, this is a good time to make sure you have adequate home insurance coverage. Read the fine print or ask your agency to clarify if your policy covers water damage; some policies do not. Some water losses are limited in coverage, so it’s wise to have a yearly review of your coverage needs with an experienced Insurance Advisor.

Hopefully you will find this information of value but better yet, we hope you never have to use it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: