Although it is necessary to support life, water can also be one of the most destructive forces of nature. With regard to your home, you want water to stay where it belongs – within your plumbing or outside! When a pipe breaks, the ceiling leaks, or a basement floods, water can do major damage to your home that requires significant effort to clean up and repair the problems.
So, if your home sustains water damage, what should you?
Safety first. If you have standing water in your home, turn off the electricity at the breaker box. If you have a gas line in your home, turn that off as well. Due to numerous risks, it is not advised to wade into any areas of standing water. Those who choose to take this risk should wear waterproof boots to protect their feet.
Get Help. Depending on the damage and the type of problem, you’ll likely need to call a professional to mitigate the damage. Broken pipes, leaking water heaters, or issues with plumbing will typically require a licensed plumber. If the issue is a leaking roof, you’ll likely need a roofer to assess the problem. The sooner you can get a professional out to your home, the faster you can stop and limit the damage.
Call your insurance company. This can be a tricky one… You’d assume that one of your first calls would be to the insurance company, but you may want to wait until you have a plumber, restoration company, roofer, or other professional assess the situation. If the damage is severe, then your insurance company will almost always need to be involved. But if the damage is minor, such as a leaking pipe under your sink that you caught quickly, the damage may not exceed your deductible. In this case, you could face higher insurance premiums in the future, even if your policy doesn’t cover the minor damage.
Take pictures. Your insurance adjuster will probably take this step, but it can’t hurt to document the event yourself. Take pictures not only of the damaged areas of your home, but also of personal possessions that were ruined (your homeowners insurance policy probably covers “contents” of the home, too). While you’re at it, gather receipts or other proof of ownership of those items.
Save the items that you can. Remove items that are vulnerable to mold damage, and move furniture out of the way or place it on risers. In some cases personal items can be salvaged with quick action. Things like curtains and cushion covers can be washed immediately to prevent mildew.
Open windows and doors to circulate air. This can help to prevent mold and mildew, and help your home to dry out faster. If you’re able to turn on the electricity, run fans to speed up this process.
Call a contractor about repairs. Broken pipes must be repaired, and often wood structures, walls, and flooring must be replaced. You are allowed, by law, to select any company that you want to repair your home. Your insurance company can make a suggestion, but they can not require you to use any specific company. Give us a call, and we can estimate the cost of any repairs that are necessary.