January 13, 2020
Private Client Group
When it comes to risk management and insurance, it’s important to apply your business best practices to your personal life as well. All too often, we overlook assessing our risks and updating our insurance when we make lifestyle changes, grow our wealth, and add (or delete) valuable assets. In this series, we will discuss common sense steps that you can take to be an effective CEO of your personal life.
Did you know that water damage is the most common homeowner’s loss? It is five times more likely than fire and seven times more likely than burglary. While most people take steps to prevent fire and burglary losses — alarms, detectors, locks, and regular maintenance — many are unaware of the higher risk of water damage and take fewer preventive steps. Unfortunately, a broken pipe or leaking appliance can cause substantial damage in a short amount of time. Here are some simple, common sense steps you can take to prevent a water loss in your home:
- Visually check under sinks and around the water heater for water, dampness, mold, or mildew. Repair any leaks immediately.
- Check your dishwasher for frayed, worn, and loose hoses. Tighten any loose connections.
- Visually check your refrigerator’s ice maker water line. Ice makers are one of the most common causes of water losses.
- Confirm your sump pump is in operating condition. Test by pouring a large bucket of water in the basin, which should activate the pump. Also do a visual check for debris and leaks.
- Check toilet components, including fill, supply and flush valves, and supply line. Confirm that the water shut-off valve works.
- Inspect your washing machine for frayed, worn, blistered, cracked, or loose hoses. If replacing hoses, use reinforced steel braided hoses, which are stronger and last longer. Also, tighten any loose connections.
- Check your basement for water, dampness, mildew, and mold. Locate the source of strong musty odors, which may lead you to water leaks. Deal with mildew and mold immediately, and repair leaks as needed.
- Clear the gutters using a plastic gutter scoop and gloves, and then clear dirt by washing gutters with a hose. Watch for leaks, and repair or replace as needed. Also confirm that water runoff is directed away from the foundation. These steps will facilitate proper runoff and prevent water damage to your roof, siding, and foundation.
- Inspect your roof. You can do it yourself from the ground with binoculars, looking for loose shingles, bumps, bulges, and tears. Check for loose, cracked, or rusted flashing around the chimney, skylights, and vents. Also pay attention to lichen or moss, which can invade under shingles. (You may be able to remove lichen and moss with a garden hose from the ground. Do not use a pressure washer for this job — it’s too powerful.) Inside the attic, look for streaking on the rafters and sheathing, or matting and staining on the insulation; these can be indications of water leaks. Unless you are confident about working on the roof, hire professionals for any repairs.
- In the fall, drain outdoor spigots and winterize by attaching covers.
- Visually check your home’s exterior — siding and trim — for gaps. Pay particular attention to areas where two boards butt together, siding corners, and around window, door, and pipe/vent areas. Seal any openings with exterior caulk.
- Have your water heater professionally inspected, including the anode rod, shut-off valve, and piping.
- Home appliances now have an average life span of eight years. Water heaters need to be replaced, on average, about every 15 years. Consider replacing your aging appliances before they develop problems that could cause water damage to your home and belongings.
You may want to consider installing an automatic water shut-off system, which detects excessive water flow and then turns off the home’s main water valve. Investing in a system ($3,000 to $5,000) is a good risk management decision, especially for a vacation home. Most insurers offer a homeowner premium credit, in recognition of a client’s commitment to loss prevention. Some insurers also offer discounts (through pre-selected third party vendors) for system installations.
Return to Articles index
The views and opinions expressed within are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Parker, Smith & Feek. While every effort has been taken in compiling this information to ensure that its contents are totally accurate, neither the publisher nor the author can accept liability for any inaccuracies or changed circumstances of any information herein or for the consequences of any reliance placed upon it.