By Catherine Powell
As I write this blog, it’s raining cats and dogs outside. Not that this is so unusual in Florida, where thunderstorms happen all year round. The problem is when the wind is howling and the rain comes down in buckets, all that water has to go somewhere. Sometimes too much precipitation can cause problems with homes, businesses, and vehicles. Below are ten ways to keep water from raining on your parade.
1. Rain, rain go away! – It doesn’t take a named storm to damage your home. All it takes is for the rain to have nowhere to go. More water damage claims are filed due to water backing up than due to flooding. That’s because all too many homeowners don’t heed the warning signs that indicate poor drainage. The next time a gulley washer passes through your neighborhood, take a stroll around your property to see if you can detect water ponding. If there’s standing water on your front or backyard, this indicates a blockage. Some blockages are caused by poor drainage, while others are created by leaf litter forming a damn. If you don’t discover the culprit and restore proper drainage, the next big storm could cause water to back up into your home.
2. The proof is on the roof. – The first inkling of a roof leak is when a homeowner discovers a brown stain on the ceiling. By the time this happens, a slow leak could have already caused untold damage. Everything from wood rot to mold and even electrical short circuits can get started with a leaky roof. The best way to prevent roof leaks is to perform a yearly inspection. If you see loose, broken or missing shingles, cracked caulking or bent flashing, call a roofer to repair the damage. Not only will this help you stop leaks but it will help your roof last years longer.
3. Clean out your gutters. – Clogged gutters are more than just an eyesore. They’re a prime source of water damage. If your gutters are so clogged that water backs up, the water may have nowhere else to go but into your home. If the leaf litter contained in the gutters decomposes into soil, this is even worse since the weight of mud could damage your roof or even invalidate the roofing warranty. The best time to clean out the gutters is just after the leaves have finished falling off the trees. If you perform this task once a year, you won’t have to deal with such a big mess the next time around.
4. Check your sprinkler system. – Believe it or not, I’ve seen neighbors sprinkler systems running full-tilt during a rainstorm. If you have an automatic irrigation system, make sure you check that the rain sensor is functioning properly and that the underground piping hasn’t sprung any leaks. A faulty or leaky irrigation system not only wastes water, this may cause flooding that can lead to water damage in your home.
5. Inspect your home’s windows and doors. – It isn’t unusual for the rain to come down horizontally during a thunderstorm. When this happens, your home’s windows and doors had better be up to the task. Everything from cracked or loose windowpanes, to missing weatherstripping can allow stormwater into your home. If you want to keep your home high and dry, you should perform a window and door inspection once a year. Not only will it help you keep out the worst of the elements, but it will also reduce your utility bills.
6. The thing under the house. - Another thing you should inspect before the next named storm rolls through town isyour sewer line. Not only can debris slow or stop the flow of water beneath your abode, tree roots can grow through the tiniest of cracks in a sewer line to gum up the works. One sure sign of an impending sewer problem is water ponding on your street after a hard rain. Even worse than a stopped-up sewer is when water backs up from the sewer into your home. Talk about a smelly mess. Not only does it prove extremely costly to remediate a home after a sewage backup, but it almost always forces the residents from their home until the job has been completed. A simple sewer inspection can prevent either of these scenarios from occurring.
7. Plumbing perils can take their toll. – Water damage isn’t just caused by the elements, it can crop up inside your home due to leaky pipes. What’s even worse is when a drip, drip, drip turns into a torrent in an instant when a pipe or a seal fails entirely. If that were to happen, do you know where the water shutoff valve is located and how to use it? If not, you’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars in damage.
8. If you do detect water damage, act promptly. – If you wait to repair a slow leak, you’re making a big mistake. By the time a leak manifests itself, it has probably had weeks or months to soak the space between the walls or to percolate from one room to another. While the worst of the damage could be out of sight and mind initially, this can change in a hurry once mildew, mold, and rot take hold. Mold remediation isn’t just expensive, it may require you and your family to move out until the work is completed.
9. Does your car know how to swim? – If it doesn’t, then you should never park it in a low-lying area or take an exit ramp that is a conduit for a flash flood. More vehicles are totaled due to water damage than due to collisions. That’s because when neighborhoods flood during a storm, many cars, trucks, vans, and motorcycles go down with the ship. If you are in a low-lying or coastal area, make sure you move your ride to high ground if a named storm is headed your way. If not, you may wake up the next day to find you have a fish tank with four wheels and a steering wheel.
10. Insurance Check - While disasters can and do happen to good people every now and then, don’t wind up being dealt a second blow by finding out that your homeowner’s insurance isn’t up to the task of making you whole again. Have your insurance agent assess your policy every year, then read it carefully to make sure there aren’t any limits or exclusions that will leave you holding the bag when you need it most.
Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/