What’s Not Covered

Most standard homeowners policies provide protection from water damage if the cause is sudden and accidental. According to the Insurance Information Institute, you’ll likely be protected if, for instance, your drywall is drenched after your water heater ruptures or an upstairs pipe bursts and water saturates the ceiling below. Homeowners insurance does not cover all types of water damage, however.

Damage from unresolved maintenance issues: While your insurance will probably help cover the cost of replacing or repairing a damaged floor if your dishwasher suddenly goes on the fritz, coverage generally will not kick in if the damage results from an unresolved maintenance issue, such as continuous leaking near a faucet or other plumbing fixture.

Replacing or repairing the source of the water damage: Most insurance policies will not cover the source of the water damage. So while your policy may cover the cost of tearing out and replacing that damaged floor, you shouldn’t expect it to cover the cost of replacing your broken dishwasher or washing machine.

Water backup from an outside sewer or drain: You also will not typically be covered by a traditional homeowners policy if water backs into your home through an outside sewer or drain. You may, however, be able to purchase additional sewer or water backup coverage that may help provide protection in case of such an event.

Flood: No type of flood damage, no matter the source of the water, is covered by standard homeowners policies. Flooding, for example, can occur from storms, over-saturated ground, overflowing or surging bodies of water such as rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans, You can, however, purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.


Draining Your Hot Water Tank

A water heater needs to be properly drained as part of its regular maintenance. Draining helps ensure the long life of your water heater by flushing out minerals and other debris that may cause it to malfunction. If you do not properly maintain your water heater, it may cease to function altogether or result in cold bursts of water when least expected. This could lead to a break and then flood your home causing thousands of dollars in water damage restoration and potential mold growth.

Once you’ve located your water heater and read over your owner’s manual. Don’t forget, if you’re uncomfortable performing this type of maintenance on your water heater, make sure to call a plumber and schedule a professional draining.

1. Shut off the water supply to your water heater. Look at the top of the water heater. You’ll see a water pipe and a water shutoff valve going into the heater. Turn this valve to shut off the water to the tank.

2. Turn off the power to the water heater. If your heater is electric, shut the power off from the circuit breaker box. The correct fuse should be labeled as belonging to the water heater. It’s important to know that if you fail to shut off the power to your electric water heater, you risk burning out the element. If it’s a gas-powered water heater, shut off the gas by turning the valve on the gas supply line that runs to the tank.

3. Give the water some time to cool off. The water in your water heater is extremely hot. To help prevent injury, it’s a good idea to let your water heater sit overnight to allow the water within the tank some time to cool before you drain it.

4. Attach a hose to the drain valve. Once your water heater has cooled down,place one end of the hose into a floor drain or, if it will reach, directly outside. Attach the other end onto the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater.

5. Turn on the hot water tap. To help alleviate pressure, open on a hot water tap, like a sink faucet, nearest to your water heater.

6. Open the drain valve. Once you open this valve, the water will begin to flow out of the tank. Be patient; draining the water heater can take up to 30 minutes depending on how full and dirty the water heater is.

7. Turn the water back on to flush the tank with fresh, clean water. With the drain valve still open, turn the water back on to eliminate any remaining sediment on the bottom of the tank. Once the water runs clear, turn the water valve off.

8. Refill the tank. Remove the hose from the drain valve. Turn the water back on and start refilling the tank. Once the tank is full, turn the power to the water heater back on.

Something as simple as draining your water heater annually may help you and your family enjoy hot water in your home for years to come.


Cleaning With Lemons

Soap scum on your shower door can easily ruin the relaxation of any morning shower. And while there are a number of good cleaners on the market for tackling this nuisance, sometimes it’s nice to switch it up with an all-natural solution that can leave your bathroom smelling lemony-fresh.

Step 1: Cut a lemon in half.

Step 2: Rub it all over the scummy door. Be sure to use the fruit side of the lemon, not the peel!

Step 3: Rinse.  Rinse the door using warm water. You may want to also use a squeegee. According to Better Homes and Gardens, it can help prevent hard-water buildup. Repeat with the other half of the lemon if necessary.

You can also try this quick fix on your shower tiles.


2016 Angie’s List Winner

For the 6th Year straight, we’ve won the Angie’s List Award for our service industry.  NO other company we compete against has ever won the award four times, and we’ve won it 6 consecutive years, setting the standard in disaster restoration like no other.


Sump Pump Inspection

A sump pump is a key component in your home that helps prevent ground- or rainwater from building up in your basement — pushing water out from under your home and helping to keep it away from the foundation. As with any other system or appliance in your home, a sump pump needs regular maintenance to help make sure its functioning properly.

Here are the five things a professional should examine during an annual inspection of a sump pump, according to InterNACHI:

  1. The alarm. Not all sump pumps have alarms that sound when the device is activated. If a sump pump has one, it should be tested to help ensure it functions.
  2. The check valve. A professional should make certain that there is a check valve on the discharge pipe. The check valve may help prevent water from flowing back down the discharge pipe after it is pumped out.
  3. A backup power source. Sump pumps often need to work during extreme weather conditions that may result in power outages. A professional may confirm there is a backup power source on a sump pump, such as a battery, and that it is working.
  4. The pit. A sump pump sits in a pit which gathers water until the pump removes it. The pit needs to be large enough — at least 24 inches deep and 18 inches wide — for the sump pump to function properly.
  5. The discharge location. The discharge location is recommended to be at least 20 feet from a home to help prevent water from draining onto neighboring properties, into public sewer systems or into a residential septic system.

A sump pump can be an important tool to help prevent excess ground- or rainwater from entering your home resulting in costly water damage and mold. But, as with any appliance or system, a little planning and regular maintenance is required to help ensure proper function.


Mold in Bathrooms

The most common issue in a bathroom is the fact that they have no or very poor ventilation, and thus become susceptible to mold growth.  The location of an exhaust fan is also crucial, as most are located in the center of the room.  This causes the steam from a shower to have to make it way around the room before having a chance to be exhausted. By that time, there’s too much steam and the build up is more than the exhaust can handle. Other times, the exhaust itself is too small or doesn’t function properly.  In bathrooms that have these issues, or in cases where you may not even have an exhaust, the excess steam will eventually cause mold and will require remediation.  Even if mold remediation is performed, if the ventilation issue is not corrected, the mold will once again return no matter what paint or other building materials you use.  So, to avoid this type of mold issue in your bathroom, you have to have proper exhaust and it should be located right above the shower.


Condensate Line Maintenance

In newer homes, excess water from condensation goes right into a nearby floor drain. But many older homes don’t have a floor drain next to the furnace. So furnace installers mount a condensate pump right on the furnace and route the drain line to a far-off sink or floor drain. If that pump fails, the water overflows the pump and it can cause major water damage. That doesn’t necessarily mean the pump is bad; the problem could be just algae buildup in the pump’s check valve.

So start your diagnosis by unplugging the pump. Disconnect the drain line and empty the water into a bucket. Then remove the check valve and plug in the pump. If the pump doesn’t work, buy a new one (about $60 from a home center or online HVAC store) and swap out the old one. However, if the pump works, you’ve got a stuck check valve.

Try cleaning the valve by soaking it in warm, soapy water. Then flush it. Clean out any remaining crud with compressed air and test it. If you can’t remove all the crud or the valve is still stuck, replace it with a new valve (about $10 from the pump manufacturer’s parts department). The furnace or A/C will continue to drain while you’re waiting for the new part to arrive, so jury-rig a bucket system. Clean any algae buildup from inside the pump with soapy water and a brush before installing the new valve. Then install the new valve and test. To prevent algae clogs, place algae reduction tablets in the pump reservoir. Condensate lines can cause sizable backups and water damage and mold in your basement which will require water damage restoration and mold remediation.  By maintaining this pump regularly, you can avoid costly repairs.


Attic Leaks/Attic Mold

An attic can be a breeding ground for mold due to many reasons such as over insulating, poor ventilation, lack of circulation, exhausts from bathrooms being vented into the attic and roof leaks.  Too often when a home owner gets a leak from their roof, they address the leak, but overlook the damage it causes.  Once mold starts to grow in an attic, it can easily spread causing major damage that can be quite costly.  So, if you should have a leak from your roof, don’t forget to have the checked to avoid what could become a major mold remediation job.



Interpreting Mold Samples

A useful method for interpreting microbiological results is to compare the kinds and levels of organisms detected in different environments. Usual comparisons include indoors versus outdoors, or complaint areas versus non‐complaint areas. Specifically, in buildings without mold problems, the qualitative diversity (types) of airborne fungi indoors and outdoors should be similar. Conversely, the dominating presence of one or two kinds of fungi indoors, coupled with the absence of the same kind of fungi outdoors, may indicate a moisture problem and degraded air quality.

Also, the consistent presence of certain fungi, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, Aspergillus versicolor, or various Penicillium species, over and beyond background concentrations may indicate the occurrence of a moisture problem and a potential atypical exposure. Generally, indoor mold types should be similar to, and airborne concentrations should be no greater than, those found outdoors and in non-complaint areas. Analytical results from bulk material or dust samples may also be compared to results of similar samples collected from reasonable comparison areas.

Comparisons of total bacterial levels indoors versus outdoors may not be as useful as with fungi, since natural bacteria reservoirs exist in both places. Comparisons of the specific types of bacteria present, excluding those of known human origin, can help determine building-related sources.


Preventing Water Damage

One of the most disheartening experiences is to find flooding or extreme water damage to your treasured home.

Just a little time and some effort can prevent a lot of heartache and hassle.  Here’s a few tips that can help to avoid potential water damage in your home:

  • Make sure your water pressure is not set too high. For just $6 or so, you can purchase a gauge that will help you test your pressure for the appropriate level, which should be set between 60 and 80 PSI.
  • Standard hoses on new appliances are not as durable as they used to be. So check your appliances. If they’re rubber, either replace them with longer lasting stainless steel braided hoses or replace them every three years.
  • Keep water from leaking into the walls or floor of your bathroom by replacing cracked tiles and re-grouting when it’s needed.
  • Examine the shingles on your roof. Worn, curled or missing shingles allow water in, so replace them as soon as noticed.
  • Consider buying a water alarm, which can help you find leaks, or automatic shut-off mechanisms, which can help avoid bursts.
  • A lot of water damage occurs when you and your family are away from home. Make a practice to avoid running the washing machine or dishwasher while you’re out.
  • When you leave for vacations, turn off the water supply to appliances.
  • Keep up maintenance on all appliance hoses, because slow leaks from worn out hoses can cause major damage.
  • Clean and maintain gutters around your home and extend downspouts at least four feet away from your home.