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Is Water Always Damage an Emergency?

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

Water damage takes many forms and, while some incidents impose less urgency than others, it is certainly never a welcome event in anyone’s home. That’s why professionals in the field emphasize preventive measures to preempt home water damage in any form.  But if it happens, is water damage always an emergency? 

Here are some criteria to make the distinction between a simply inconvenient event and a real crisis.  

  • Consider the source. Water damage originating from a raw sewage backup or from outdoor flooding that has entered the house is not a nuisance—it’s an emergency.  Known as “black water,” this classification of water damage poses both immediate and long-term health threats and must be handled rapidly by qualified professionals only. Protective garb and breathing protection are required as well as special disinfection treatment and disposal methods. Temporary evacuation of the house may also be required.
  • How much and where? If the event involves a limited amount of clean water from an untainted source pooling on the hard-surface floor of a single room, that’s probably not an emergency. Rapid DIY response with a mop and bucket is likely sufficient. However, if water volume is enough to spread under walls between rooms, soak carpeting or other absorbent materials, or penetrates through the ceiling into living spaces below, the mounting damage potential becomes an emergency that requires a professional response.
  • Can you deal with it without delay?  Most people can’t. That’s why water damage professionals provide emergency service, 24/7/365. Water damage evolves and continuously worsens until effective intervention methods are applied. As the clock ticks and water migrates deeper into a structure, the potential for long-term consequences including mold contamination and structural deterioration mount. Even an initially minor event can soon turn into a bona fide emergency if not properly addressed.  
  • Insurers say yes it’s an emergency.  For homeowner’s insurance purposes, most water damage originating indoors is considered a time-critical emergency. Neglecting to summon qualified water damage remediation services in a timely manner may exacerbate damage, increase recovery costs and jeopardize insurance coverage. Contact your insurance agent if you have any question about emergency status.

Preparing Your Home for Fall – These Tips Will Prevent Possible Water Damage

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019
Water damage

While the potential for home water damage is not limited to any particular season, sources of possible damage do shift somewhat as the calendar advances. Fall is a transitional period, a good time to check for damage that might have occurred during severe summer storms as well as prepare for the coming winter season. Getting these things done now is preferable to waiting until the first cold snap strikes, when conditions may be far less favorable. Here are some items to check off while the weather cooperates:

  • Clean the gutters. Gutters clogged by falling autumn leaves will overflow during winter rains or melting snow on the roof. Overflowing gutters may allow water to penetrate exterior siding and leak into walls, triggering internal water damage and mold.  
  • Insulate exposed plumbing. Household water supply lines routed through unconditioned zones like the crawl space or attic should be insulated to prevent freezing and possible rupture during the coming winter. Also, seal any openings to the exterior of the house that may allow frigid outdoor air to contact plumbing.
  • Seasonal roof inspection. Summer sun and storms are particularly hard on roofing. Any roof defects should be identified and resolved now, while good weather lasts. If you don’t feel safe accessing the roof yourself, now’s a good idea to schedule a roof inspection by a qualified roofing contractor to check for any defects that may permit leakage into the attic. 
  • Cut back trees. Large overhanging limbs that may not withstand the weight of winter ice need to be trimmed back to prevent damage to the house. It’s a good idea to have at least a three-foot safety margin around the house where no breaking limbs can strike the roof or walls, allowing water to penetrate. Also, if any trees appear to be diseased or dead, now’s a good time to have them removed.
  • Review hurricane preparations. If you reside in an Atlantic or Gulf state that is at risk for hurricanes or tropical storms, fall is the season to get prepared. Evaluate your home for hurricane readiness and follow proven procedures to minimize damage. 

4 Ways to Prevent Residential Flooding

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

How bad can it get if your house is flooded? Consider these insurance industry statistics: Just one inch of water loose in a home can inflict over $8,000 in water damage. Nine inches raises the total damage above $18,000. Of course, there’s no figure available for the irreplaceable family possessions that might be ruined, too.

While you can’t do much about water inundation from outdoor sources like a hurricane or overflowing river, indoor causes are more predictable. Here are four ways to prevent indoor flooding in your home:

Maintain and repair plumbing.

Don’t let risky plumbing issues persist. Even minor pinhole leaks in water supply lines or seepage around pipe joints may be indicators of internal corrosion that might trigger a major pipe rupture at any time. A broken 1/2-inch water supply line will typically release over 100 gallons of water into your home every hour until the supply is shut off.

Know where to shut off the water.

Know the location of the house main water shutoff valve and how to operate it. Shutoff valves that aren’t turned occasionally may eventually stick. Test the valve at least once a year to make sure it still operates freely. If it doesn’t, don’t force it—call a plumber. Also, locate the individual supply valves to each toilet, usually near the floor behind the toilet tank. Test each valve to ensure it turns freely. If a toilet overflow should occur, turning off water at that valve is the fastest way to limit flooding damage.

Inspect appliances.

Check the icemaker water line and its connection at the back of the refrigerator. Make sure it’s secure. Replace rubber washing machine supply hoses with braided stainless steel lines that are much less likely to rupture. Remove the kick plate at the bottom front of the dishwasher. Use a flashlight to look underneath for any signs of ongoing leakage.

Take precautions if you’re going away.

A broken pipe can be catastrophic if nobody’s home to notice and take appropriate action. Turn off the house water supply at the main water valve before you leave.

4 Tips For Spring Storm Preparation

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Will damaging spring storms strike this year? Or will fickle weather patterns or blind random chance give you a break this time? The best antidote for uncertainty is being prepared for whatever happens, whenever it may happen. Many types of storm damage that commonly occur can be minimized by taking advance preventive measures before the actual need arises. You can’t control the forces of the atmosphere, but here are four steps you can take to make storm damage less likely this spring.

1. Maintain the gutters. Water runoff from a residential roof of average size can amount to nearly 1,000 gallons during a one-inch rainstorm. Make sure gutters aren’t clogged and are securely mounted to the house to withstand the heavy weight of runoff during intense rain. Also, downspouts should ideally extend a minimum of three feet away from the house to divert water far enough away and prevent damage.

2. Get a roof inspection. If you haven’t had a professional roof inspection in a few years, schedule one now before the potential for spring storms strikes. The effects of UV exposure, freeze/thaw cycles, wind and aging materials combine to cause deterioration that promotes leakage, particularly in heavy rain. Roof leaks into the attic trigger mold growth, destroy insulation and eventually infiltrate the living spaces below through the ceiling.

3. Test the sump pump. Because sump pumps typically spend most of the time on standby, it’s important to ensure that the system will be fully functional if/when it’s needed. Make sure the sump basin is clear of any debris. Pour 5 gallons of water into the basin and verify that the pump automatically actuates, empties the basin, then shuts off. Go outside and check the termination of the discharge pipe to make sure it’s not clogged and releases water far enough away from the house.

4. Check out the trees. High winds associated with spring storms may break overhanging limbs, causing roof damage. Weak or dead trees may be toppled, striking the house with expensive consequences. Cut back limbs that extend over the roof and remove marginal trees.

3 Ways to Prevent Water Damage to Your Home While Traveling

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

leaving on vacationIt’s a homeowner’s nightmare scenario: Returning from a vacation or even just a weekend getaway to find your house inundated by catastrophic water damage. A quarter-inch crack in a water supply line releases more than 250 gallons in only a few hours. Imagine the potential damage if you’re away from home and leakage continues for days. As time elapses, water soaks deep into the structure, permanently deteriorating building materials. Possessions are ruined, toxic mold contamination is triggered.

Clearly, preventing water damage while you’re away is preferable to all other options. Here are three ways to ensure that your homecoming doesn’t include a distressing surprise.

Maintain The Plumbing

Don’t ignore early warning signs of failing pipes such as dripping beneath sinks and other fixtures, or in the basement or crawl space. Water heater ruptures are also another common source of water damage due to internal corrosion. Leakage from the tank is often a red flag of impending rupture. These issues should be resolved by a plumber.

Rubber hoses connecting the washing machine to hot and cold faucets behind the unit are prone to sudden failure and frequently implicated in severe home water damage. Replace rubber hoses with braided stainless steel lines that are more resilient and last longer.

Prevent Freezing

Indoor water supply lines can freeze and rupture during winter, particularly in a frigid, unoccupied house. If you’re going away, set the furnace thermostat to 60 degrees day and night while you’re gone. Open cabinets and closets to allow warm air to circulate into wall spaces where pipes are routed. If you have exposed supply lines in the crawl space or attic, consider installing pipe insulation to prevent freezing.

Turn Off The Water

For the most definitive water damage prevention, turning off all water to the house is a good idea. Locate the main water shutoff valve. If you don’t know, a plumber can show you where it is and also make sure you have the correct tool to operate it. Test the valve now, to verify it turns easily. If it’s difficult to turn, don’t force it—consult a plumber.

Prevent Exterior Water Damage With These Simple Tips

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

exterior water damageConcerns about potential water damage shouldn’t be limited to your home’s interior. Materials that make up the exterior roof, walls and foundation of the house—wood, masonry, concrete—can be vulnerable to water damage under certain conditions. Also, external water damage often doesn’t stay outdoors: Water seepage originating outside tends to infiltrate indoor spaces, as well. Here are ways of detecting and dealing with exterior water damage before it becomes an interior issue.

  • Have your roof inspected. It’s a job for a professional who knows what to look for and can do so safely. They will check for damaged and missing shingles and defective flashing around vent pipes, chimney and skylights. Up in your attic they’ll inspect the sub-roof for telltale evidence of leakage, too.
  • Check exterior walls for loose siding boards, cracked bricks or masonry and signs that exterior wood sheathing is deformed or damaged due to water.
  • Inspect any openings in exterior walls that admit wires, plumbing pipes or heating and A/C lines. Seal around them with foam or caulk.
  • Look for signs of termite activity in or around exterior walls. Be aware that termites eat drywall as well as wood.
  • Trim back shrubs and/or tree limbs so they don’t touch sides of the house or the roof. Vegetation contacting exterior walls or roof surfaces traps chronic moisture, potentially accelerating deterioration of building materials.
  • Ventilate the attic to prevent ice dams on the roof. Heat rising from living spaces accumulates in the attic, causing uneven snow melt on the roof. Ice dams form, obstructing roof runoff and triggering damaging leaks. Adequate ventilation keeps attic temperatures uniformly cold.
  • Make sure that ground around the perimeter of exterior walls is slightly graded to divert water away from the house and prevent seepage into the foundation or basement.
  • Water cascading out of clogged, overflowing gutters can penetrate siding and cause severe damage inside exterior walls. Keep gutters clear and free flowing. Also, extend gutter downspouts to discharge water at least three feet away from the house.

3 Tips To Minimize Water Damage In Your Home

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

water shutoffEliminating every possible cause isn’t always possible, but preventive steps to at least minimize water damage can substantially limit its consequences. Water is eight times more likely to damage your home than a fire and, in many cases, may be more extensive and costly. However, a few general principles can minimize water damage, cut your losses and facilitate recovery.

  • Know where the main shutoff valve is. Every adult occupant should know the location of the home’s main shutoff valve and be able turn it off in the event of a plumbing rupture or overflow. It’s also a good idea to turn off the main valve if you’re leaving home for a few days. In most houses, it’s outside where the main water line enters an exterior wall. Shutoff valves may be very difficult or even impossible to turn. Test it now—before an emergency occurs. If the valve is stubborn or won’t rotate, call a plumber for repair.
  • Check hoses and lines to appliances. These are known weak links in household plumbing. Rubber supply hoses connected to the home’s washing machine are at risk of rupture after only a few years. These should be replaced by braided stainless steel lines that have long expected service life. If the plastic water line supplying your refrigerator ice maker doesn’t inspire confidence, upgrade to a stainless steel replacement with copper shutoff valve. Once or twice a year, remove the kick plate at the front of the dishwasher and look underneath with a flashlight for signs of a leaky supply line.
  • Don’t ignore plumbing issues. Chronic minor leaks you’re putting up with may unexpectedly turn into major incidents that inflict maximum water damage. A dripping pinhole that abruptly expands into a 1/8-inch leak in a water supply line can release hundreds of gallons of water per day into your house. Even the smallest pipe leaks or inconspicuous seepage around joints should be a red flag. Minimize the possibility of extreme water damage by having all leaks resolved by a qualified plumber.

 

3 Common Types of Water Damage That Can Be Prevented

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

overflowing toiletSome types of water damage are what the insurance industry calls “acts of God”—unpredictable events you can prepare for, but not prevent. However, statistics show that the most common types of water damage affecting residences are usually preventable and the risk factor can be substantially reduced by taking proactive steps. From a survey of homeowners’ insurance claims conducted by the Institute for Business & Home Safety, here are three frequent examples:

Supply Line Ruptures

Water entering your house through typical 1/2-inch supply pipes is under pressure from the municipal water supply—an average of about 60 p.s.i. A broken supply line can continuously inundate your house with over 100 gallons per hour. Here are some important preventive steps:

  • Don’t ignore oozing joints or tiny pinhole leaks. They may be a red flag for a major pipe rupture about to occur. Call a plumber at first sign.
  • Protect your pipes in freezing weather with foam pipe insulation on all exposed supply lines. Seal gaps in the structure that allow frigid outside air to contact water pipes. Let faucets drip during cold spells.
  • Know where your main water shutoff valve is and test it annually.

Toilet Overflows

Water damage from toilet mishaps can exceed $5,000 per incident. Most are due to a clogged, overflowing toilet bowl. Toilet paper is the only paper product that should ever go into a toilet. After flushing, make sure the bowl clears properly and the tank fill valve shuts off before you leave the bathroom. Periodically test the shutoff valve on the wall behind the toilet.

Water Heater Failure

Your water heater is directly connected to a 1/2-inch supply line. Therefore, a ruptured water heater will continue to release water even after the tank itself is empty. Be alert to evidence of an impending tank failure. Water pooling around the unit or the sound of drips sizzling on the burner under the tank are important warning signs that indicate a plumber should be contacted immediately. Also, have the tank flushed annually to remove sediment that accelerates internal corrosion.

 

3 Water Damage Prevention Tips

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

water shutoff valveCould learning to live without indoor plumbing prevent home water damage? Actually, not—there’s always the possibility of outdoor floodwaters inundating your house, too. Drastic measures aren’t required to reduce these risks to an acceptable level, however. And, should an incident occur, our qualified water damage recovery professionals are ready to respond, 24/7/365. In the meantime, reducing the odds that you’ll need these services is a doable goal by following proven precautions to prevent home water damage. Here are just three:

  • Know where your main water shutoff valve is and make sure it works. If an indoor pipe ruptures, hundreds of gallons could be discharged as you frantically search for the house shutoff. If the home is built on a concrete slab, the shutoff will be indoors along the main water line, normally near the water heater. If the home has a basement, the shutoff valve is located where the main water line enters the basement—usually, at the front foundation wall. Other locations are also possible, so ask a plumber if you can’t find it. Also, test the valve annually to verify that it operates freely.
  • Maintain the water heater. According to the Institute For Business & Home Safety, the odds that your water heater tank will leak—or rupture entirely and flood the house—begin increasing once the unit exceeds five years old. Fully 75% of water heaters fail before they reach the 12-year mark. Flush sediment from the tank twice a year to reduce internal corrosion. Have the heater inspected by a plumber annually to detect early signs of tank failure.
  • Install a sump pump. If you have a basement, it’s a common source of water damage through chronic seepage and rising ground water. As the lowest point in the home, it’s also a destination for any flooding that occurs anywhere else in the house from any source. A sump pump automatically removes ground water seeping through the foundation. Should indoor events like a ruptured water line occur, the sump pump also protects the basement from flooding.

For more ways to prevent home water damage, talk to a professional at Rytech, Inc.

Flood Damage: Protect Yourself In Advance

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

flood damageIs flood protection something you needn’t worry about because you don’t happen to live on a coastline or near a river? Not according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA reports that flooding from one source or another can happen virtually anywhere in the country. No state or locale is 100 percent immune to the possibility of flood damage. Maps are available from FEMA that depict your potential flood risk including estimates of how high the water level could potentially rise. With that information you can plan safeguards appropriate to your specific area. However, wherever you may live, these general flood protection guidelines can be applied to reduce the potential and extent of water damage due to flooding.

  • Check the gradient of your property. Is the landscape graded to divert water away from the house? When the foundation of the house is the low point on the lot, flood water flows toward it, greatly increasing the potential that damaging water will enter the house. Ask a landscape contractor about grading to divert water away.
  • Install a sewer backflow valve. When localized flooding strikes, the municipal sewer system is often swamped by water. This excess pressure backs up through residential sewer pipes and floods the interior of homes with toxic raw sewage. A sewer backflow valve automatically diverts sewage reflux out a port installed in the sewer line so it doesn’t enter the house.
  • Raise mechanical systems. Basements typically accumulate deep standing water in a flood. If you have HVAC equipment, water heater, electrical panels and other critical systems installed in your basement, consider having these permanently raised to a level high enough to avoid potential contact with flood water.
  • Look into flood insurance. Standard homeowner’s insurance provides zero coverage for flood damage. To protect yourself against devastating losses, evaluate your risk and consider affordable flood coverage provided by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It’s sold and administered by local private insurance agents.

For more about what you can do to increase flood protection in your home, ask the water damage professionals at Rytech, Inc.