Water Back Up: Prevention and Protection
There are a number of preventative measures you can take to avoid water back up damage and minimize the amount of damage should it occur. But a significant amount of water back up incidents may not be preventable. For example, Colorado Springs Utilities estimates that water back up damages amount to $1,000,000 annually and that 80% of these losses are unpreventable. Worse, 80% of homeowners do not have insurance protection against water back up.1
Water back up most often occurs in the basement and can damage heating systems, water tanks. Basements that are used as laundry areas, for seasonal storage, or are finished and used as additional living space put even more property at risk from this cause of loss.
Most homeowner policies do not provide coverage for water back up loss, but the protection can be added, usually for as little as $25 to $50 a year.
Sump pumps and back flow valves installed in the sanitary sewer and drain lines are good measures against water backing up from those sources. Maintaining the sewer and drain lines is also an important loss mitigation measure. Homeowners are generally responsible for the sewer and drain lines running from the house to the street so it is a good idea to have these checked periodically for blockage due to tree root intrusion or an accumulation of dirt, hair, grease or paper products.
Seepage through a building foundation is another common entry point for water back up. This can be avoided by making sure your basement is sealed and rain water drains away from your home or office. Extremely heavy rains will saturate the ground and result in basement seepage, even in homes that have had no problems in the past.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the results of water back up can range from a minor financial set back to a potentially devastating consequence. A sewer backup can lead to disease, destruction of your valuables, damage to your house or business, and can even result in electrical malfunctions. Prompt cleanup of the affected property can help minimize the inconvenience and prevent mold and further damage. In the event of sewer backup, immediately arrange for the cleanup of your property. This should include:
- Wet-vacuuming or removing spillage
- Mopping floors and wiping walls with soap and disinfectant
- Flushing out and disinfecting plumbing fixtures
- Steam cleaning or removing wet carpets or drapes
- Repairing or removing damaged wallboard or wall covering
- Cleanup of ductwork2
1. Colorado Springs Utilities Wastewater Back Up publication, http://www.csu.org/residential/products/insurance/2166.pdf