The national average cost to remediate and restore a basement that has suffered water damage is $2,700. That doesn’t even begin to account for the cost of water damage to a roof or other parts of your home. If you live in a flood zone, you should be particularly wary, but water damage can occur anywhere and at any time. In the face of this looming threat, what’s the best way to protect your home from water damage? Read on to discover the answer!

Water Damage 101: The Basics

Before we delve into the best way to protect your home from water damage, we need to know what causes water damage and how you can detect it. Knowing what to look for and when to expect damage gives you a leg up in the fight to keep your home safe.

Causes of Water Damage

Here’s a list of the most common causes of water damage:

  • Extreme weather events, including floods
  • Pipes that have burst or are leaking
  • Malfunctioning appliances, such as dishwashers or washing machines
  • Groundwater seepage through cracks in your foundation or walls
  • Roof damage, such as missing shingles or cracked flashing

Signs of Water Damage

The following list provides some of the telltale signs that you are dealing with water damage. Keep an eye out for these:

  • Peeling paint
  • Warping floors
  • Ceilings and walls that show discoloration or sagging
  • A strong, musty smell or mold
  • Water pooling in your yard, particularly after a rain event

The Best Way to Protect Your Home

We’ll let you in on the secret. The absolute best way to protect your home from water damage is to properly maintain your home.

Inspect Your Roof

Your roof is exposed to all kinds of weather, all year long. It really takes a beating. You need to inspect your roof periodically, particularly after a large storm event, to check for broken or missing shingles. You should also keep an eye out for cracked flashing and large chunks of debris that may have hit the roof during a storm. If you don’t want to, or can’t climb up to your roof for a quick inspection, a pair of binoculars will give you a good idea of what’s going on up there from the ground.

Clean Your Gutters

Clean and functional gutters mean that water isn’t backing up on your roof, or pooling by your foundation. You want your gutters to funnel water off your roof and away from your building so that it prevents water damage. You should clean your gutters at least twice per year. In most climates, the best schedule for cleaning is after the trees have dropped their leaves in the fall, and in the spring when the snow melts. You should also add an extra cleaning if a large storm has deposited a lot of debris onto your roof and into your gutters.

When cleaning the gutters, make sure the laterals are not clogged by debris. Check that winter ice hasn’t cracked or broken your gutters. Run water down the downspouts to see where it discharges. The vertical downspouts should direct water well away from the foundation.

Caulk and Seal

Sealing your windows prevents rain and snow from creeping inside your home where they don’t belong. Other places in the house that should be caulked or sealed include:

  • Bathtubs and sinks
  • Drains, faucets and other plumbing fixtures
  • Ceiling fixtures
  • Backsplashes

You’ll want to choose caulking or sealant that is 100% silicon. Silicon is waterproof, flexible and doesn’t crack. Avoid acrylic caulk which will shrink over time leading to water damage.

Check Your Pipes

Check the plumbing in your home at least annually. Over time, pipes and hoses can rust, crack and corrode increasing your chances of a leaking pipe. Catching it early will save you in money and headaches. Inspect all of the hoses and faucets that lead to appliances, such as your ice maker. Replace hoses every five or so years.

If you live somewhere where frozen pipes are a concern, consider installing an emergency pressure relief valve in your piping. This allows you to relieve the pressure caused by freezing pipes and can prevent a burst pipe. If you don’t already know, find out where your water main shut-off is located. You may not be able to prevent a pipe burst, but you can mitigate the issues by shutting off the water as quickly as possible.

Don’t Forget the Basement

Check to see if your basement is equipped with the following things:

  • A sump pump
  • A backwater valve
  • Sealed walls and floor

These three things will make a major difference in the amount of water damage you sustain.

A sump pump is used to pump water that collects in the sump basin out of your basement and into a storm drain. If your sump pump is not functioning properly, a pool of water will collect in the sump basin and eventually flood the basement.

A backwater valve is a one-way valve that allows sewage to flow out but not come back in. Although sewer backups are a less common cause of water damage in the basement, they are quite a bit messier to clean up and should be avoided at all costs.

If cracks in the basement floor or walls have started to let condensation or water accumulate in the basement, you need to reseal. A paint-on sealant will re-waterproof the areas that need it.

Understand Your Insurance Policy

Homeowners and renters insurance will offer some coverage for water damage. Check with your company to better understand what you are protected against and what will be an out-of-pocket fix.

As a rule-of-thumb, water damage caused by water that comes down (rain, burst pipes) is covered by your standard policy. Water damage that is caused by water that comes up (flooding) is covered by separate flood insurance. You can opt to purchase sewer backup protection in your renters or homeowners policy.

Accept that Water Damage Happens

The best way to protect your home from water damage is proper maintenance, but even this can’t always prevent water damage. No amount of preparedness can stop a flood.

When water damage does happen, call the water damage experts to clean it up right and restore your home to its original condition. BMS CAT will be there for you.