Water damage occurs for various reasons—flooding, storms, burst pipes, clogged drains, etc. It's extremely stressful because it can cause irreparable damage, especially when left unaddressed for too long. This article discusses three important factors all homeowners should know about water damage in order to be adequately prepared if it happens to them.
1. Turn off the power
Before heading to examine the extent of water damage, it's important to turn off your power at the mains supply. This is because if there are any loose wires, the water becomes electrified, and someone could get hurt. If you're unable to reach the fuse box without stepping in the water, look for protective clothing such as rubber gumboots or heavy plastic overalls. The danger of electrocution is quite real in these circumstances.
2. Water pollution level is a factor
The gravity of water damage is determined by the level of pollution in the water source. Category 1 damage comes from clean water, such as a burst inlet pipe, and won't cause any illness. Category 2 damage comes from water that may cause illness, as it's slightly contaminated. Category 3 damage is from water with potential to cause serious illness, as it's very dirty—sewage water, for example.
However, consider that category 1 water may get contaminated depending on the environment, such as dirt on carpeting or soil on the ground. This can change it to category 2 or 3. Remember also that the longer such water is left standing, the worse the contamination because of continued bacterial breeding. Things like carpets and soft furnishings may sustain permanent damage and have to be discarded.
Therefore, you should have in place a go-to team you can contact as soon as you notice water damage on your property, otherwise it gets harder and more expensive.
3. Re-examine your insurance policy
Many homeowners' policies exclude flood damage from other kinds of water damage. If you live in a low-lying or flood-prone area, you should also get flood damage insurance.
Go over your current policy to see what kinds of water damage are included and which ones are not. For example, sudden/unexpected damage from a storm or overflowing appliance/drain is usually covered, while damage from poor maintenance or neglect such as gradual leakage is excluded.
Remember that you need to report your water damage as soon as you notice it, before any water damage remediation takes place. Be sure to specify the type of water damage so that you're guided on the steps to take to prevent further damage. Additionally, your insurer may deal with a specific restoration company to whom you'll be referred. Without informing them, you may make your own arrangements, and your claim may not be paid as a result.