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Rental Home Flooding: What to Do

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021
rental home flooding

Rental home flooding can be just as alarming and damaging as significant water damage in a property you own. However, while water damage issues can affect renters and homeowners, alike—who’s responsible and how the incident is handled may differ. In addition, while state laws are broadly similar with regard to rental home flooding, some states may apply different regulations.  

If rental home flooding occurs, certain common-sense steps should be taken by the tenant:

  • If you see damage occurring—or warning signs of potential damage such as a leaky pipe that may rupture—immediately inform the onsite manager (if there is one) or contact the property owner directly.
  • Stop the source of water immediately if you can. In the case of a rental house, knowing the location of the main water shutoff valve and how to operate it is good common-sense knowledge.  

Responsibilities of the Property Owner

  • In all states, a landlord is responsible to maintain a safe and habitable rental space for tenants. This includes promptly addressing water-related issues such as leaky plumbing, roof leaks, groundwater seepage, and malfunctioning or defective home appliances
  • Once any incident of rental home flooding (or a condition likely to trigger flooding) is reported to the property owner, the cost of repair of any resultant damage is the responsibility of the owner.  

Responsibility of the Tenant

  • If rental home flooding is caused by the tenant’s abuse or misuse of plumbing or appliances, the tenant could be charged for repairs to resultant damage. An example would be flushing inappropriate items down a toilet and causing a damaging overflow.
  • If an appliance belonging to the tenant and not provided by the property owner—for example, a washing machine—malfunctions and floods some or part of the premises, the tenant may be liable for costs for repair of the damage.  

Prevention Is Preferable

Property owners should conduct regular inspections to verify the status of plumbing as well as look for signs of structural problems like roof leaks. Also, tenants should be reminded to promptly report any issues that might result in rental home flooding to the manager or property owner.

Prevent Home Flooding in Winter

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

prevent home flooding in winter

While home flooding is an all-season potential, some indoor water damage is strictly winter-specific. Plummeting temperatures and wilder weather in many locales stresses home structure and systems, increasing the risk that water will find a way to cause expensive damage. Here are three common sources of home flooding in winter:

Frozen Pipes

Water supply lines may freeze and burst when outdoor temperatures drop to the mid-20s or below. Home flooding due to ruptured frozen pipes often results from uninsulated plumbing routed through unheated zones. To reduce the potential for home flooding:

  • Insulate accessible spans of water supply pipes located in unheated zones like the attic, crawl space, and garage.
  • Locate and seal openings in exterior walls that allow frigid outdoor air to contact pipes routed through walls.  
  • When frigid temperatures are forecast, open a few indoor taps to allow a continuous trickle of water overnight. Also, maintain the furnace thermostat setting of at least 60 degrees. The extra expense of trickling water and heating is far less than the cost to repair home flooding damage.
  • If the water flow stops at a specific fixture or area of the house (a sign of potential freezing), turn off the home’s main water valve and call a plumber ASAP.

Ice Dams

Mounds of ice on the roof near gutters block drainage from melting snow and cause pooling. Because roof shingles don’t resist standing water, leakage into the attic and living spaces may occur.

Ice dams are triggered by household heat infiltrating the attic, warming upper roof portions while lower roof surfaces remain frozen. To prevent home flooding due to ice dams:

  • Eliminate attic heat infiltration by locating and sealing ceiling cracks and gaps in living spaces.
  • Verify that attic insulation coverage is uniform and meets current Department of Energy standards.

Basement Flooding

Rapid melting of deep snowfall has the same effect as heavy rain in summer. As soil becomes over-saturated, water may penetrate cracks and gaps in basement walls. Sealing walls to waterproof the basement, as well as installation and proper maintenance of a basement sump pump, helps prevent potential home flooding in all seasons.

5 Home Flood Prevention Tips

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020
home flood prevention

Home flood prevention is a common concern among homeowners and insurers alike. Statistics show losses due to residential fires have notably declined in recent years. Meanwhile, damage from indoor flooding has surged. This increase could be for many reasons: aging plumbing, an increasing number of appliances connected to water lines, even a growing trend toward installing washing machines on upper floors of homes.

That’s why effective home flood prevention is now a front-and-center issue. Here are 5 ways not to become the next statistic:

1.There’s no such thing as a ‘minor’ leak

Adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward any plumbing leaks, drips or other evidence of seepage from pipes, connections, or fixtures, no matter how small. Frequently these are harbingers of major indoor flooding events. Have any plumbing issues inspected immediately by a qualified plumber.

2. Basements are ground zero for indoor flooding

Install a basement sump pump. Water supply lines are frequently routed there. Saturated soil during heavy rains can infiltrate and flood the basement. A sump pump automatically activates to pump water out of the basement into the backyard before floodwater accumulates.

3. Know how to shut off water to the house

Be sure you know where the main water shutoff valve is and how it operates (some are rotary valves, some are lever-operated). Check the valve for proper operation twice a year and call a plumber if it’s difficult to turn. Also, shut off the valve if you’re going away.

4. Install a sewer backflow valve

A sewage backup into a home is water damage of the worst kind. Toxic contamination makes the water damage recovery process very complex. A sewer backflow valve allows the sewage flow in one direction only—away from the house.

5. Replace aging washing machine supply hoses

Do it now. Rubber hoses become brittle and may rupture. This can cause catastrophic water damage without warning. Replace them with braided stainless steel lines that provide greater reliability and longer life.

Home Flood Cleanup: Caring for Your Belongings

Thursday, February 6th, 2020
home flood cleanup

One of the priorities of home flood cleanup is rescuing valuables and other family belongings from the ravages of exposure to water. Flooding from any source—exterior or interior—can actually pose a greater threat to possessions than fire damage in many cases. It’s vital to take steps as soon as it’s safely possible to initiate recovery of items contacted by water.

Caveat: If flooding resulted from a sewage backup, any belongings contacted by it must be considered toxic and contaminated. Qualified water damage professionals on the scene for home flood cleanup can determine whether items are safe to work with.

  • Conduct triage. Determine which items are most valuable to you as well as those most likely to be salvageable. Sentimental value often takes precedence over dollar value when it comes to photographs, family heirlooms, etc. Where affected possessions have high value only in economic terms—such as consumer electronics—decide whether the cost of repairing those items is worth it.  
  • Move identified items away from wet areas. Open windows and circulate air to exhaust damaging high humidity. Run the HVAC fan if the system has been approved to operate. If the entire home was flooded, relocate items to a sheltered, secure location elsewhere.
  • Clean and dry. Gently rinse affected photos with clean water. Dry by placing on a plastic screen to allow air circulation on both sides, or by hanging from a line with clothespins at the corners. Remove water-soaked photos from photo albums or frames, then rinse and air-dry.  To preserve valuable books affected by water, insert absorbent paper towels between wet pages.  
  • Freeze-dry if necessary. Items like books, photographs, documents or textiles that can’t be cleaned and dried within 48 hours should be placed in plastic bags, then frozen in a freezer for later treatment. This stops mold from forming and ruining the items.
  • Don’t power up electronics. Some electronic devices like computers and video cameras may be successfully restored after water exposure. However, powering up a wet unit may make that impossible. Data can also be retrieved from wet hard drives. Numerous companies offer this specialized professional service.

3 Tips For Cleaning Up After A Flood In Your Home

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

flood cleanupCleaning up after a flood probably isn’t a job you’ll want to tackle all by yourself. Comprehensive recovery usually requires the services of water damage professionals. In the immediate aftermath however, there are a few steps you can take to begin damage control ASAP. Before you start, make sure the house is safe to enter. Be aware of electrical hazards in the wet indoor environment as well as potential collapse of saturated walls and ceilings. Unless the source of water is a ruptured indoor supply line, assume floodwater is contaminated and wear protective clothing to avoid direct contact.

Cleanup tips

To initiate the process of cleaning up after a flood here are three tips:

  1. Remove standing water. Where residual water is pooled on hard surface floors, you may be able to push it out an exterior door, if one is nearby. If you don’t have a floor squeegee, a push broom can be useful to direct water outside. Removing standing water as soon as possible isn’t likely to undo damage already done. However, it may limit further spread of water into other areas of the house.
  2. Reduce humidity. Open windows and, if possible, run fans to get air moving. Run the air conditioner if it’s still functional as well. If you have a dehumidifier or can rent one, put it into use as soon as possible. Extremely high indoor humidity is an inevitable side-effect of flooding and a major cause of secondary damage, even in areas of the home that were not affected by the initial flood.
  3. Move out saturated stuff. Get soaked items like mattresses, cushions and throw rugs out of the house without delay. These highly absorbent items will never dry indoors and, if the floodwater came from any source other than a broken pipe, they are permanently contaminated and will have to be discarded, anyway. Most saturated materials also become sources of mold growth within just 48 hours after exposure to water, so getting them outdoors sooner rather than later is helpful.

Cleaning Up A Flooded Home – When To Get Help

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

flooded home helpIf you’re faced with cleaning up a flooded home, should you go it alone or call in professional help? The do-it-yourself approach may be the natural first response. After all, it’s your house and possessions, so the urgency to take control with personal action can feel overwhelming.

However, cleaning up a flooded home involves multiple specialties that are seldom part of the typical homeowner’s skill set. Moreover, water damage is a dynamic event that continuous to worsen as hours elapse. Because you can’t afford putting off the decision about what to do indefinitely, here are some guidelines to make the right call ASAP:

  • Did you have to leave the house? This one’s easy: If flooding was severe enough that evacuating all or part of the house was necessary, you need professional water damage recovery to get your home and your life back.
  • Is water limited to just one room? If water is pooled on a hard-surface floor of a single room, you may be able to mop or wet-vacuum the water yourself, then dry residual dampness with fans.
  • How is the water classified? Class 1 is “clean” water, such as inundation from a ruptured household water supply line. Water from an overflowing toilet or other appliance (Class 2) is considered tainted while Class 3 water—outdoor floodwater or indoor sewage backup—is officially a toxic biohazard. Due to health threats, both Class 2 and Class 3 cleanup should only be handled by qualified water damage specialists.
  • Where did the water spread? Water that has seeped into wall spaces between rooms, soaked into drywall or trickled from an upper level to a lower floor through the ceiling always requires professional intervention. Structural damage and toxic mold growth in these inaccessible areas is inevitable.
  • Do you really have time for this? For the homeowner, a flood crisis imposes many diverse and urgent issues beyond cleanup. Turning the complex process of water damage recovery over to skilled, experienced experts helps you keep priorities in order.

The water damage experts at Rytech are standing by 24/7 with professional services for cleaning up a flooded home.

3 Common Causes of Bathroom Flooding And How To Prevent Them

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

flooded bathroom
Because a bathroom typically contains more fixtures utilizing running water than any other room in the house, bathroom flooding is an all-too-common occurrence. Bathroom flooding can be particularly problematic because bathrooms are often located on an upper level. Water may migrate vertically, seeping through the subfloor and the ceiling below, causing expensive structural issues. Average damage due to bathroom flooding is over $10,000, making it one of the more costly home water damage events. Here are three common causes:

Overflowing Toilet

An overflowing toilet bowl usually results from a clog, often caused by attempting to flush paper products (or other objects) that are not meant for the toilet and do not disintegrate in water. To minimize damage, take these steps:

  • Know the location of the toilet water shutoff valve. Check it occasionally to make sure it turns freely.
  • If the bowl fills unusually high after one flush, don’t flush it again! This can cause an overflow. Consider it clogged and either plunge the toilet with a toilet plunger or call a plumber.
  • Often, overflows begin after the person has left the bathroom. After each use, linger a moment to make sure the toilet flushes fully and refills properly.

Stall Leakage

A shower stall incorporates a built-in pan concealed underneath it to catch leaks and divert water down the drain. Over time the pan may degrade and no longer hold water. If a leak develops in the stall or surrounding wall, water may escape and seep through the subfloor and the ceiling below, as well as flow out horizontally. If you notice water pooling on the bathroom floor after showering, or water stains on a ceiling, call a plumber.

Ruptured Supply Lines

Water supply lines in under-sink cabinets that feed bathroom faucets aren’t conspicuous. However, they can cause major damage. Drips or “minor” leakage is not normal. It’s a red flag that a total rupture and bathroom flooding could happen at any time. Close the water shutoff valve adjacent to the pipe and call a plumber.