How To Protect Your Building Against Water Damage And Mitigate Your Insurance Footprint

According to the insurance industry, water damage claims, especially among aging condominiums and apartment buildings, have been substantial in the past few years. In response to this increase in claims, insurance companies are now being more selective on what they will insure and are increasing both rates and deductibles.

The following low-cost best practices outlined below are helpful in reducing the impact of water damage and higher sewer backup deductibles, 

Water heaters
Water flows in and out of water heating tanks on a continual basis. Over time, deposits accumulate at the bottom of the tank and this continuous movement of water puts a lot of strain on the tank, the tank liner, and the piping. This can cause the water heater to fail and cause significant damage in the form of cracks and leaks.

Regular inspection and replacement of corroded pipes can help prevent expensive and extensive damage. Installing a sump pump or a water catch pan connected to a drain, is a good way of channelling water outside the building. Automatic shut off valves limit damage in the event of a leak or failure.

HVAC systems
While HVAC systems are useful in maintaining a comfortable work and living environment, if they are not properly maintained, they can cause expensive water damage. HVAC systems produce water (by condensation) that is collected in a pan and then expelled through pipes. When this water is not expelled properly due to pipes not being connected properly, or clogged drains or frozen evaporator coils, serious water damage can occur.

A comprehensive building maintenance program should include the HVAC system. Ensuring that the condensation pumps, collection pans and drains are functioning properly and that the connections are leakproof can help prevent future problems.

Leaky windows
Windows that are not properly sealed, worn weatherstripping, and cracks in the window frames,  can allow water to seep into the building. The damage caused by this type of leak can result in mold, floor damage, window rot and higher heating and cooling bills.

Regular window inspections, especially after heavy storms is necessary to prevent this type of water damage.  Recaulking windows, repairing sealants and in extreme cases, replacing the window, can mitigate this type of problem.

Damaged Roofs
A leaking roof can cause mold and rot if the leaking is severe; water pooling can cause damage inside and to the structure of the building.  Leaking water from the roof can cause the insulation below the roof to become saturated, reducing its effectiveness, and this leads to increased energy costs.

Regular roof inspections where the emphasis is to look for cracks, broken shingles, damaged vent boots, mold, water pooling and dripping. Professional roofing maintenance providers can correct these deficiencies, and prevent them from escalating and prevent much larger problems.

Outside walls
The exterior walls of a building are battered by rain, sleet and snow, which can impact their condition over the long run. Tell-tale signs are discoloration, peeling paint, musty odors, warped walls, mold or mildew growth and signs of wet and damp patches. If there are sidings, water getting behind the sidings can cause the sheathing to decay and rot, encourage the growth of mold and this can cause serious health issues.

Doing visual inspections is the best way to detect where water is accumulating against the building. Installing a drain tile network to divert water away from the affected areas, and applying waterproof sealant are optimal low-cost solutions.

Sewer back ups
These occur when there is a blockage or the system is running over capacity, causing sewage to flow back into the building through toilets, sinks and floor drains.

Professional inspection of sewage lines on a regular basis can allow for an early detection of any potential blockages. Installing backwater valves on the lateral sewer lines can prevent the sewage from backing up into the building and causing extensive damage.

Water damage response plan
While most businesses have response plans for fires, medical and other emergencies, few have developed a water damage response plan. Developing a water damage response plan is important and should have the following items:
  • Water damage prevention training for employees 
  • Water damage prevention checklist
  • A list of emergency and trade contacts when the damage is discovered
  • A tool kit that includes, mops, water absorbent cloths, wet-dry vacuums
  • A diagram to show where all the shut off valves are and how to use them

Tenants chose us because we offer an exceptional level of service and professionalism in our management of properties. To learn more about our property management service, click on this link or contact us on 604 695 1000.
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