Water Damage: Home maintenance is a key to preventing structural damage, insurance claims

Summer has come to an end and that means fewer fair weather days to work outside. Now is a good time to do some simple, preventative maintenance around your home to protect it from harsh fall and winter weather.

If your home isn’t properly maintained, it could be vulnerable to water damage –one of the most costly Homeowners Insurance claims

Water running or dripping into your home from the outside can rot drywall and support beams, crack foundation walls and cause mold.  Standard Homeowners policies do not cover water damage unless it is the result of a covered peril such as a broken water pipe or water that gets into the home due to a fire or windstorm.  Damage from roof leaks, excessive condensation or poor landscaping is excluded from coverage. 

Nationally, in 2007, water damage, including frozen, burst pipes, accounted for 22 percent of all Homeowners Insurance claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute.  The average claim was $5,531.

The good news is most water-damage losses are easily preventable by taking some simple maintenance steps.  NW Insurance Council and the Institute for Business & Home Safety offer these tips to help you prevent future damage and thousands of dollars in repair costs:
  • Inspect your roof.  Remove leaves, branches and debris from gutters to prevent water blockage and possible run-off into the home.
  • If you find a leak, clean and dry the exposed area and fix the problem immediately.
  • Routinely inspect ceilings, walls, floors and windowsills for water stains, discoloration and musty odors.
  • Routinely inspect attics, vents, ducts, washer hoses and outside water sources for leaks.
  • Check and replace heating system air filters.
  • Properly ventilate bathrooms and kitchens to prevent a moisture buildup.
  • Use high quality silicone caulk to seal areas where cables or pipes exit walls, such as around clothes dryers, kitchen or bathroom vents and outdoor electrical outlets. 
  • Routinely caulk bathtubs, sinks, tile walls and floors to prevent water seepage.
  • To reduce flooding from poor drainage or excessive rainfall, clear outside drains of debris and make sure your lot’s grading directs water away from buildings.
For free brochures, Protect Your Home From Water Damage and Maintenance Guide For Your Home, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.www.nwinsurance.org