What Can Happen

Ignoring the importance of regular maintenance to your gutters and roof could eventually lead to several thousand dollars worth of interior damage.  This damage could result in mold growth, and structural issues within the home.  As seen in the pictures below, a clogged gutter, (filled with just leaves), resulted in severe interior water damage and mold growth, while also compromising the sheathing.  The drywall and insulation needed to be removed, the sheathing had to be treated and the interior was structurally dried, all because of poor maintenance.  Remember, the coming of summer doesn’t just mean a change of weather.  It also is a reminder of several household maintenance items that should be addressed.

Water Damage in Philadelphia

Pictured here is a set of photos from a dishwasher leak that caused major damage in a kitchen.  The cabinets and walls behind the kitchen both had to be removed because of water damage and mold.  The flooring also had to be removed, as the subfloor was soaked through.

Is Ice Damage Covered?

In many parts of the country, winter is accompanied by snow and ice. And ice can cause a lot of headaches for homeowners. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), one in every 55 insured homes has a claim related to water damage or freezing every year. Typical homeowners insurance policies include protection against ice-related damage, but there are some important things to keep in mind.

Hail

Hail can do serious damage to roofs and windows. Most homeowners insurance policies include dwelling coverage, which may help protect your home against specific perils, including hail and other ice-related losses. If hail damages a building on your property that’s not your home, such as a shed or unattached garage, it may be covered by other structures coverage, which is a component of some homeowners insurance policies. It’s important to keep in mind that insurance provides protection up to the limits indicated in a policy and that other policy restrictions or limitations may apply. Your insurance agent can provide you with information to help you choose levels of protection to fit your needs.

Roof Collapse

During the coldest months of the year, ice forming on your roof can cause serious problems. Roof collapse can happen when a roof can’t bear the weight of ice and snow. You may find that insurance may help cover the cost of replacing or repairing a damaged roof that is damaged by a collapse. If your house is uninhabitable after a roof collapse, homeowners insurance may also help cover living expenses, such as hotel bills, while your home is being repaired. Coverage limits and terms will apply, so be sure to check your policy to learn what it covers. Of course, no one wants to deal with a roof collapse. You may be able to prevent a situation like this by taking some preventative measures, such as cleaning gutters or clearing the roof of ice and snow as necessary. Consider hiring a professional if you’re concerned about safety or causing damage to the roof.

Ice Dams

Ice dams may result when ice forms on the edge of a roof and stops melting water from running off. When water gets backed up against the ice dam, it may leak through the roof and cause water damage. Dwelling coverage may help protect your home if an ice dam causes a loss. Personal property coverage provides coverage for named perils only and does not generally provide protection for ice dam situations.

You may find that homeowners insurance doesn’t cover ice dam removal, but resulting water damage to the dwelling is typically covered. And again, even if a loss is covered, policy terms and limits will apply. Check your policy to learn about what protections you have in place and talk with your agent to help determine whether you may benefit from additional coverage. Keep in mind that some routine maintenance may help you avoid this kind of damage. The III advises watching gutters for ice dams and keeping gutters clean so water can flow freely.

Frozen and Burst Pipes

Homeowners insurance may help cover damage to homes from burst, leaking or frozen pipes. However, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners warns that frozen pipes may not be covered if a proper temperature wasn’t maintained inside the house. Check your policy limits and terms to see how much coverage you have for burst pipes.

Injuries on Ice

Ice on the ground can be dangerous and sometimes hard to see. What happens if a visitor falls on ice on your property, suffers an injury and sues you? Liability coverage typically comes with homeowners insurance. This type of coverage may help protect you if you’re found legally responsible after a visitor is injured on your property. For example, liability coverage may help cover a person’s medical bills or lost wages if they’re injured. It may also help cover your legal costs.

Like other types of coverage, liability coverage has limits and conditions, and legal claims can be very expensive. If you’re concerned you may not have enough liability coverage, talk to your insurance agent about a personal umbrella policy, which can offer additional protection. As you prepare for another chilly winter, your local insurance agent can help you understand the specifics of your policy and provide you with information to help you make any necessary changes. You may not be able to escape the cold, but you can pass the months with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have protections in place, just in case.

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Checking Your Pipes

Just as it looked like we weren’t getting a winter, the cold has returned.  This coming week, in our service area, snow is expected to accumulate anywhere from six to twelve inches. With the snow, comes dramatic drops in temperature which could cause some unforeseen issues if left without care.  And one of those issues is frozen pipes.  When a pipe bursts because of freezing, it can rapidly cause thousands of dollars in water damage to your property.  Making sure exposed piping is wrapped in insulation is one way to avoid such an issue, but exterior spigots should be shut off and the excess water within the pipe drained. Last year alone we were involved in dozens of burst pipe claims that cost home owners over one hundred and thirty three thousand in total damage.  Some bursts effected kitchens which completely destroyed cabinets, while others ripped through multiple floors leaving behind water damage that took days to remediate.  So, be sure to check your pipes as the temps drop for the next week to avoid the potential of major water damage restoration.

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What are Ice Dams?

You may be feeling  warm in your home as the snow serenely falls outside. But, up on your roof, a dangerous situation could be forming – one that can compromise your roof and lead to water damage inside your home. It’s all the result of an ice dam. If you live in a snowy area and you’re not familiar with what an ice dam is, it’s imperative that you read on.

What Is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms along the edge of your roof and prevents snow melt from running off. It often occurs because heat from the attic warms the middle of your roof, causing snow to melt. When that runoff reaches the eaves, or overhang, of your roof, the cooler surface temperature (there’s no heat rising from inside your home to this part of the roof) can cause the water to refreeze. As this happens over and over, an ice dam forms, preventing melted snow from running off your roof.

Do Ice Dams Cause Damage?

Yes, ice dams cause the water from melted snow to back up under the shingles of your roof and into your home – the water doesn’t have anywhere else to go. This can damage your roof, not to mention your interior. And, remember, water damage can lead to toxic mold inside your home.

How Can I Prevent Ice Dams?

An easy way to help prevent ice dams is to keep your eaves, gutters, downspouts and drains clear. This way water can drain away from your home as snow melts on your roof. It’s ideal to have your gutters cleaned out before snow season even begins. While you’re at it, install gutter screens for added protection.

Here are some other ways to help prevent ice dams:

  • Keep your attic cool. Proper insulation between your living areas and attic will help keep warm air from escaping into your attic and warming your roof. Ideally, during a snow storm, your attic won’t be more than 10 degrees warmer than the temperature outside.
  • Remove snow with a roof rake. Only if you can safely do so, remove accumulated snow from your roof using a long-handled roof rake, a specialized tool for clearing roofs, that won’t damage your roofing material. Do this from the ground. Never climb on top of a snowy roof.
  • Update your roof with materials that help prevent ice dams. These include a rubberized, water-repellant membrane underneath the shingles and a heating cable along the eaves. For either installation, consult a professional.

Ice dams may not be the first thing you think about once the snow stops coming down. After all, there’s the sidewalk and driveway to clear. But, for the sake of your roof and the integrity of your overall home, it’s important to keep an eye out for this winter roof danger.

So, how can you spot ice dams? Icicles may be a sign of ice dams, a buildup of snow and ice along your eaves that blocks water runoff. Discolored ceilings or walls may indicate that your ice dam has turned into a leak. Remember, in the midst of this harsh winter, it’s important to keep your gutters clear, your roof updated and an eye out for the signs of ice dams. If you suspect trouble, call a trusted roofing contractor at once.

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Top 5 Things About Flood Insur

Most of the country is in some kind of a flood zone, a designation that indicates the area’s risk of flooding – some are just more severe than others. So, what does that mean for you as a homeowner? It means you are at risk of flooding, even if it hasn’t happened in your area in recent memory. And, it also means that you may want to consider buying flood insurance.

Here are five important things to know about a policy for flood coverage:

  1. It’s a separate policy. The typical homeowners insurance policy does not offer any coverage for flooding. None. But, you can likely purchase a separate flood policy through the National Flood Insurance Program. A few carriers in Florida also offer private flood insurance as an alternative. Your independent agent can help you find coverage in your area.
  2. Different flood zones have different flood insurance costs. The zone in which you reside will help determine your flood insurance costs, along with other factors. And, yes, the more severe the flood zone, the higher your insurance rates may be.
  3. Your lender may require it. If you purchase a house in one of the more severe flood zones, your lender will likely require you to carry flood insurance as a condition of your loan. If you purchase the home with cash or pay off your mortgage, it will be up to you whether or not you carry the coverage. Just be sure to discuss any major insurance changes with an independent agent first.
  4. Flood insurance is not just for coastal areas. Take, for example, the flooding just this year in West Virginia, Texas and Tennessee. It all goes to show that even if you don’t live near the coast, a flood could still devastate your area – and your home.
  5. What your policy covers will depend on the policy itself. Most people who buy flood insurance want dwelling and contents coverage. Be sure you understand what you’re buying and how much coverage you’ll have. An independent agent can help.

Keep in mind that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) periodically updates its flood zone maps. Even if you have flood insurance now, you may want to check whether it is still insuring you at the level you want. If you don’t have flood insurance and you think you could benefit from it, be sure to contact an independent insurance agent.

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Minor Kitchen Leaks

Sometimes what appears to be a small leak, can result in major water and mold damage. These photos show a kitchen in Newtown PA, where a leak under a sink caused major damage not only to the cabinets, but the walls behind them and the sub flooring.  Some of the cabinets had to be removed, while the back splash and walls needed to be cut out in order to properly clean and dry the home.  This is just a few of the photos, as more cabinets and the ceiling in the basement below, also needed to be removed.