As many are still cleaning up from the latest flooding in the area, what should you do if you find your basement floor submerged under a foot of water? Don’t panic. You’ve got this! Act quickly enough and you’ll be able to avoid the common ill effects that come with water damage — things like the ruining of personal belongings, loss of your basement’s usability and a number of threats to your family’s health.
Learn About Your Coverage Options
Get your homeowners policy right with added coverage. Water damage — resulting from backed up drains or failed pumps — is one of the most common homeowners’ insurance claims. Because some water damage incidents are often not covered by a home policy, it’s important to make sure you are protected with a water backup endorsement.
- What is water backup insurance coverage? A water backup and sump pump overflow endorsement on your homeowners or renters insurance provides added protection from costly water damage resulting from backed up drains or failed sump pumps.
- What does water backup insurance cover? Water backup insurance provides coverage for damage to your property caused by a clogged sewer line, failed sump pump and backed up drains. It also covers mold damage to your home caused by water or sewer backup.
- What causes water backup? Water backup damage most commonly occurs when a drain, sewer or gutter backs up, or a pump fails, forcing water into your home. This could stem from a heavy rain, debris causing a clog or even root invasion from your yard outside.
- Does homeowners insurance cover water backup? Homeowners insurance does not typically cover water backup damage. Water backup and sump pump overflow coverage is an optional coverage that must be added on to a homeowner’s policy.
- How much does water backup coverage cost? The average cost of water backup and sewer coverage may range from $50 to $500 per year, with limits of coverage from $5,000 to the full replacement cost of your home. Talk to your independent insurance agent to find the level of coverage that is right for you.
What to Do When there is Water in Your Basement?
It’s easy to panic and think the worst when you notice that your basement is filling up with water. Take a deep breath and follow these steps carefully to mitigate the damage and get your life back to normal as soon as possible:
Step 1: Evaluate Potential Hazards: High water in the basement comes with a whole host of problems beyond the damage to your belongings and your house’s structure. Before you enter your basement, homeowners should check thoroughly for these dangers:
- Electrical shock. If you have electrical outlets or electrical equipment below the water line, stay out of your home until the power can be turned off. If this is the case, shutting off the main power is a job for a professional and shouldn’t be attempted by homeowners. Contact your electric company as soon as possible.
- Gas leaks. If you smell gas, leave the house immediately and contact your gas company. Gas leaks are extremely harmful to your health and can lead to fires or explosions if they come in contact with electric or heat sources.
- If your basement flooded due to a sewage backup, that water could contain bacteria and raw sewage that are extremely dangerous to your health. Don’t wade in — instead, get in touch with a professional plumber as soon as possible.
- Structural damage. No matter how that water got into your home, it could cause damage to your home’s structure. Don’t go in the house until it’s determined to be structurally sound.
Step 2: Find the Source of the Flooding: Once you’ve made sure your home is safe to enter, it’s time to figure out what caused the water in your home. If the source is a burst pipe, turn off your water supply. If it’s from something else like a flooded body of water or heavy rain, wait until the storm has passed and conditions have improved before clearing out the water.
Step 3: Remove the Water from Your Basement: After you’ve identified the source of where the water came from and can be certain that its done pouring water into your basement, it’s time to clean up the mess. Use a wet/dry vacuum, water pumps, mops, buckets or enlist the help of a professional cleanup company to get the water out.
Time is of the essence when cleaning up your basement. Water and residual moisture are a perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew and harmful bacteria that could endanger your family’s health and further damage your home and belongings.
Who to Call When there is Water in Your Basement?
Not all basement water damage can be handled by homeowners. Sometimes, it’s best to call professionals and let them do what they do best. Be sure to reach out to professionals right away in the following situations:
- If a pipe burst. Contact a plumber and turn off the main water valve, if possible.
- If you have electrical problems. Any sort of issues with your electricity should lead you to evacuate your home right away and call an electrician and your electric company.
- If your sewer backed up. Contact a plumber and don’t use any plumbing or water until they can assess the situation.
- If your furnace failed. Furnaces are often impacted and damaged during floods. If yours has fallen victim to the intruding water, contact an HVAC professional right away.
How to Prevent Water in Your Basement
Here are a few tried-and-true ways to keep rain on the lawn and away from your home:
- Give your gutters some TLC. Keep them clean and damage-free. Use downspout extensions to direct water away from your foundation.
- Cover window wells. Prevent rain from filling your window wells and seeping into your basement.
- Check the roof and flashing. Replace missing shingles, repair damage and keep flashing sealed.
- Keep your sump pump going strong. Check on it regularly — it’s a good friend to have working in your favor when the rain starts pouring! You also might consider installing a battery backup, so your home is protected if the power goes out in a storm.
When to Call Your Insurance Agent
Contact your Aitken & Ormond Agent as soon as possible when you notice damage to your basement. And before any sort of damage ever occurs, talk with your agent about getting the protection and peace of mind you deserve — we’re always happy to help.