A sewer backup can be one of the most dreaded things to happen to a home or property owner. Add to that the fact that most standard insurance policies won’t cover this type of damage without a special endorsement, and a sewer problem can become an absolute nightmare. Here’s what you need to know to ensure your property is protected:
Causes of Sewer Backups:
Did you know that as a homeowner you are responsible for maintaining the sewer line that connects your home to the city system? Because of this, it’s important to pay attention to anything that might disrupt your sewer line and cause major problems. Common causes of sewer backup include tree roots, cracked or damaged pipes due to an outdated system, and blockages that can occur for a variety of reasons. In addition, a sewer backup can happen when a flood or major rainstorm overwhelms the system, sending raw sewage backwards through drains and toilets.
Is Your Home Covered?
A standard homeowner’s policy does not cover sewage backups but it’s an easy fix a special rider can be purchased to protect your home or property in case of a sewer problem. The cost of the policy will be based on an evaluation of your risk, and can run anywhere from $40 to $160 per month. This type of coverage may help with plumbing, cleaning and repair costs, as well as costs to replace damaged items. Remember, a sewer backup policy may not cover backups in certain cases, so be sure to read the fine print. If your homeowner’s policy includes Loss of Use coverage, you may also be able to get reimbursed for living expenses if you cannot stay inside the home.
Sewer Backups are Preventable:
Although sewer backups are a costly and complicated to fix, the good news is that they are preventable. Homeowners can start by keeping grease and other harmful items (such as paper products) out of drains and toilets. In addition, prioritizing basic annual maintenance will help you to recognize potential problems long before they become serious. Finally, consider replacing old pipes and/or installing a backwater prevention valve to drastically reduce the risk of damage to your home in the event of a sewer backup.
How to Handle A Sewer Backup:
In many cases, a sewer backup poses a serious health risk and must be dealt with immediately. Start by turning off the water and do not use any water or flush toilets in your home. Clear pets and children from the area. Always wear gloves and protective clothing if you are handling raw sewage. If your sewer is connected to the city system, contact your local sewer department for help and guidance. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may need to call a professional in order to properly clean affected areas and dispose of the sewage safely. Your local health department can instruct you in how to dispose raw sewage. Finally, to file a claim or for recommendations on service providers, contact your insurance provider. For insurance purposes, be sure to photograph all of the damage and save receipts for any cleaning or repairs. In this case, it is helpful to have “before” pictures and an itemized list of valuable items to ensure the maximum benefit from your policy.