Water damage is one of the more expensive types of damage that can happen in your home. Prices vary, depending on the type of water damage you have. You could pay between $100 and $300 to fix ceiling damage caused by a leaky roof, or up to $10,000 to dry a flooded basement. Damaged caused by burst pipes or whole house flooding caused by a natural disaster can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair. While adding flood coverage to your homeowner's insurance can help defray some of the costs, your best bet is to take smart steps to avoid flooding, if possible. Here are some tips that can help you avoid flood damage in your home.
Keep Your Gutters Clean
Cleaning out your gutters is more than just cosmetic upkeep for your home, especially in the autumn when falling leaves have a tendency to choke up your downspouts. When your gutters get choked with leaves, the rain that lands on your roof doesn't get funneled to the ground and away from the house like it should. Instead, it pools and puddles on your roof.
The result is that your shingles or tiles weaken much faster than they would if rain water were not collecting on the roof. This weakness is what leads to a leaky roof, ceiling damage, and water damage to floors, furniture, and other household items. Keeping your gutters clean is an important part of keeping the inside of your home dry.
Improve Your Home's Drainage
Without adequate drainage, big storms like hurricanes can quickly overwhelm your home and leave you with a flooded basement or ground floor. However, there are a number of ways that you can improve the drainage on your property and prevent your home from being overrun by water even in a heavy storm. Installing a French drain is one possibility. This is a drainage system that is installed outside of your home along the foundation line and conducts water away from the building. A sump pump in the basement may also be a necessity if basement flooding is a regular problem.
If you live in an area prone to severe flooding, then these drainage options may not be enough. It's expensive, but if you have the money to spend, you might want to consider a major home retrofit. Though it's pricy, raising your home on columns or piers so that the lowest floor is above the flood line or installing flood vents in your foundation are both options that can almost completely eliminate the risk of indoor flooding from rising waters. If you live in an area where flash flooding is common, it may be worth the cost of one of the retrofits to avoid repairing water damage on a regular basis.
Maintain Your Major Appliances
Many home floods aren't the result of rain on the roof or storms causing the local waters to rise. Instead, they're the result of faulty appliances or leaky pipes installed right inside your home. Appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines can all cause water damage due to leaking. It's easy for these appliances to gradually cause major damage without you realizing it. When you wake up in the morning to a small puddle under the refrigerator, do you call a repairman, or just mop it up and go on about your day? Over time, these small nighttime leaks can cause cumulative damage while homeowners put off repairs. Even small leaks can cause major water damage, so have a leaky appliance looked at right away.
Hot water heaters, on the other hand, can cause a lot of damage very quickly when they burst. The average tank-style water heater only lasts about eight to twelve years, so if yours is approaching that age, have it inspected to find out whether it's time for a replacement. Replacing a tank-style water heater with a tankless water heater can eliminate your risk of hot water heater-related water damage.
If your home does sustain water damage, whether from a leaky roof, rising flood waters, or a faulty appliance, remember to make two calls right away. The first call should be to your homeowner's insurance, and the second call should be to a water damage restoration team in your area. The longer the water sits, the more expensive the repairs become, so the sooner you contact a professional water cleanup crew, the more money you'll save on repairs.