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Encompass® Insurance Insights & Articles

How to Minimize the Risk for Water Damage to Your Home

From a leaky roof to a burst pipe to a flooded basement, water damage can cause serious problems in your home. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that one out of every 50 insured homes has a claim related to water damage or ice damage each year, with the average claim costing more than $10,000. Proactive maintenance can help reduce the risk of water damage to your home.

A couple hold blue buckets under water leaks in the ceiling.

  1. Inspect your roof and gutters. Your roof is an important line of protection against water damage. Proper maintenance of your roof, gutters and downspouts will minimize the risk for moisture seepage. Keep these areas clear from leaves, branches, moss and lichen. This debris can prevent water from draining properly and cause it to pool, increasing the risk for mold and moisture damage. When clearing your gutters, perform a visual inspection of your roof, checking for missing shingles and wind damage. Timely repairs can extend the lifetime of your roof and minimize the risk of water damage in your home.
  2. Aim downspouts at least eight feet from the foundation. Check the ground beneath your downspouts to ensure water is not pooling up near your home's perimeter. If it is, a downspout extender can deliver water away from your home. Doing so lowers the ground saturation levels near your home's foundation and basement, helping to reduce the risk for leaks.
  3. Choose smart landscaping. Landscaping can help redirect ground moisture away from your home's foundation. Sandy and rocky soil, for example, will drain more easily than clay soil. Planting water-hungry bushes in your yard can also help absorb extra moisture in the soil. A landscaper can recommend appropriate plants for your climate and the correct distance to place vegetation from your home's foundation.
  4. Maintain your sump pump. A sump pump is typically located in the lowest part of your basement or crawlspace. A sump pump is a self-activating electrical pump that removes rising groundwater before moisture seeps into the basement or crawl space. Understand the basics of monthly or quarterly sump pump checks and consider an annual professional inspection to ensure proper operation.
  5. Check for basement dampness. Moisture migrating through a concrete foundation is a leading cause of basement dampness. In addition to your sump pump, ventilation fans and a dehumidifier can help counteract moisture problems until the foundation crack or leak is repaired.
  6. Reduce the risk of frozen or burst pipes. You don't have to live in a cold climate to have a frozen or burst pipe. A rapid temperature drop and inadequate insulation around pipes increase the risk of water damage. When a pipe freezes, the water in the pipe expands and increases the pipe's pressure, which can cause the pipe to burst. Check your home's insulation and sealants, including crawl spaces, attics and sealants around dryer vents. Proper insulation can help protect pipes from a rapid temperature drop and minimize the risk for freezing.

Choosing the Right Insurance Coverage

Your homeowner's policy may protect your home's interior from certain types of water damage, such as damage from a burst pipe. Talk to an independent insurance agent to learn what coverage options are available.

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