The Backup Differences

Storm Water Backing Up

In many older houses with basements (mostly pre-1980), there is a perimeter foundation drain outside the exterior wall, at the level of the basement floor, next to the footings at the time the house was built. A pipe was usually installed from the perimeter foundation drain to the street where it was connected to the city storm sewer system.

This can become a problem as the city storm sewer system becomes too small when more development causes more rain runoff. When this happens, the rainwater in the sewer system can get so high that water flows backwards toward the house.

Usually, the installation of an interior perimeter basement drain system connected to a sump pump will take care of the problem. If it doesn’t, the (more expensive) alternative is to dig up and cap the pipe that is running from the house to the street from the perimeter foundation drain. However, this is not always possible; many times, this pipe is also draining sanitary waste from toilets and sinks in the house.

Sewer Water Back Up

If the water is coming up through floor drains or sink drains in the basement, then the problem is often water backing up from the municipal sanitary sewer system. During heavy rains, combined sewer systems can become overwhelmed with water. This can cause sewer water to back up in the system and sometimes into homes.

There are other possible explanations, too. Sewer backups can be caused by individual service lines being plugged by grease, waste, tree roots, breaks in pipes or saturated ground. Sewer mains can also be plugged by vandalism or large items dropped down manholes. This kind of flooding is an enormous problem for homeowners, as it’s largely out of your control and probably means fecal waste backing up into basements. Not only is it disgusting, but it can also be a serious health hazard.

In order to keep your individual lines clear, you can install backflow preventers that help stop sewer water from flowing backward into the house. Proper maintenance of your individual lines – for example, pouring tree root killer down your toilets once a year – can also go a long way in preventing sewage backups. Still, the problem is often out of your control. Sewage in your basement means a major cleanup and a lot of uncertainty about future problems. If it’s something you’ve seen in your home, you’ll have to get your city government involved. At the very least, be aware of the problem and don’t leave anything valuable near your downstairs drains.

MoldSolutions24-7.com

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.

Biowashing.com

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.

Biowashing.com

Battery Backup Units

Many homes need the assistance of French Drains and Sump Pumps to keep their basement dry.  These systems work by having a perforated piping system which is installed below grade direct water to a basin pit which is then pumped back to the exterior even before the water comes to surface.  But with severe storms, power outages can cause these systems to fail and flood basements.  There’s a simple way to ensure that your sump pump continues to operate even when the power goes out: Install a battery-backup sump pump. This two-stage system includes a 120-volt electric sump pump connected to a 12-volt backup pump that runs off a deep-cycle marine battery. During normal operation, the electric sump pump will pump water from the pit. But if the electricity goes out, the battery-powered backup pump will automatically start up when the pit fills with water. An electric charger keeps the battery-backup pump fully charged so it’ll be ready at any time.

These units can be installed before and after the sump pump itself was placed into use. They can cost anywhere from $300 to $800 depending on the size and charge capabilities, but it will be money well spent.  Basements which need sump pumps and drains have excessive hydrostatic water issues and without them it’s very easy for a home to get flooded with a foot or more of water.  So if you’re having a new system put in or already have a sump pump, battery back up units aren’t a frivolous upgrade, they’re more of a necessity.

BIOWASHING.com

Wind & Hail Preparedness – Part 3

If you are warned that a wildfire is threatening your area, listen to your battery-operated radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials. Remember, personal safety should always come first! Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut doors and roll up windows. Leave the key in the ignition. Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers.

Confine pets to one room. Make plans to care for your pets in case you must evacuate. Arrange temporary housing at a friend’s or relative’s home outside the threatened area. Know at least two exit routes from your neighborhood in case of emergency evacuation. Wear protective clothing; sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothing, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face. Take your emergency supplies kit. Tell someone when you are leaving and where you are going. Choose a route away from fire hazards. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.

If you’re sure you have time, take steps to protect your home. Close windows, vents, doors, Venetian blinds or non-combustible window coverings and heavy drapes. Lock your door and always remember if you are advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

Assembling Emergency Supplies

When wildfire threatens, you won’t have time to shop or search for supplies. Assemble a disaster supply kit with items you may need if advised to evacuate. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffel bags or trash containers.

Include in the kit:

  • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day).
  • Food that won’t spoil
  • One change of clothing and footwear per person
  • A first aid kit that includes your family’s prescription medications.
  • Emergency tools, including battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of batteries
  • An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler’s checks
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members
  • An extra pair of eyeglasses
  • Important family documents stored in a waterproof container

Wind & Hail Preparedness – Part 2

Windows & Doors

Windows and doors can often be the most direct route for high winds to enter your house, causing severe damage to your walls and roof—and potentially ruining your family’s personal possessions.

One of the most effective ways to protect windows — and keep you and your family safe from breaking and flying glass — is installing wind shutters (sometimes called hurricane shutters), protective coverings specifically designed to completely cover window and door glass openings during high winds. While some homeowners build their own wind shutters (typically using 5/8″-thick exterior grade plywood), information about custom-built options is widely available online.

Another option is purchasing pressure- or impact-rated windows. Besides protecting your home’s interior from water and wind damage, they also increase its overall structural stability, reducing the risk of destructive structural failure from hurricane winds.
For doors in high-wind areas, at least one double door should be secured with heavy-duty bolts both at the top of the frame and at the floor. Be aware, though, that the bolts included with most doors aren’t strong enough to withstand high winds. Check with a hardware store for heavier-duty bolts. The door’s manufacturer may also sell a reinforcing bolt kit specifically made for your door. The manufacturer may also make pressure- or impact-rated doors that are designed to offer increased wind protection.

Doors installed to open outwards reduce the chance of the door blowing open in high wind. Inward rushing wind can cause pressure changes in your house, changes that can actually cause wall and roof structural failures.

Snow Shoveling Injuries

Some activities such as snow shoveling, walking through heavy wet snow or in a snow drift, downhill and cross country skiing, snow-boarding, can strain the heart enough to cause a heart attack. Snow shoveling can be more strenuous than exercising full throttle on a treadmill. While this may not be a problem if an individual is healthy and fit, it can be dangerous if not.

Shoveling, even pushing a heavy snow blower, can cause sudden increase in blood pressure and heart rate, and the cold air can cause constriction of the blood vessel and decrease oxygen to the heart. All these work in concert to increase the work of the heart and trigger a potentially fatal heart attack.

Individuals who are at risk of a heart attack during cold outdoor activities include:

  • Those with a prior heart attack
  • Those with known heart disease
  • Those with high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Smokers
  • Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle
  • Individuals who are overweight and perform little to no exercise in their normal routine.

A recent case in Pennsylvania had a pregnant teen collapse after shoveling snow and was pronounced dead.  The storms produced record snow and tides which resulted in extreme water damage and storm damage to homes, but everyone must be very careful when performing any strenuous task.

Biowashing.com