Broken pipes, malfunctioning appliances, and intense weather conditions are just a few of the main causes of interior flooding. One in four homes in high-risk areas will flood during a 30-year mortgage, yet nearly 20% of all flood insurance claims come from moderate to low-risk areas. That’s why taking steps to safeguard your home and prevent flooding is crucial no matter where you live.
Are You Ready?
Floods can happen anywhere whether you’re in a flood zone or not. In fact, floods are the most costly and common disaster in the USA. Your homeowner policy will typically cover water damage caused by things that are sudden or accidental, for example, if a washing machine supply hose suddenly breaks or a pipe burst, but often does not cover damage resulting from poor maintenance.
Flooding caused by hurricane damage is often not covered, but if the flooding is caused by winds damaging your roof and water getting in as a result, your homeowners’ insurance may offer protection as long as your policy includes wind damage coverage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that it only takes an inch of water to generate $26,807 in damages to an “average” home.
If you do experience flooding in your home, you’ll want to act quickly to minimize the amount of damage caused. We’ve put together a list of 7 steps to follow if your basement has flooded, in order to help you get your life back in order as quickly as possible.
Step 1: Stop the Water
This may seem like common sense, but if possible, stop the water at its source, or access the property’s water shut-off valve. Familiarizing yourself with the location of water valves in advance can help you save time and stress in the event that there is a leak in your home.
Step 2: Turn off the Electricity
If you can safely reach your breaker box, turn off your electricity. Be alert and DO NOT attempt this if you must stand in water to do so. To avoid the risk of being shocked or electrocuted, do not step into a room if water may be in contact with electrical outlets, cords, or appliances.
Step 3: Take Photos of the Damage
If you have flood insurance, call your insurance company to file a claim. You may also wish to contact a restoration service, but your insurance company will advise you on this. A number of insurance companies use Encircle to process your claim faster. While you’re on the phone, the claims office may ask to send a text message to your phone, enabling you to use the Encircle Web App to share photos of the loss in real-time, so they can better see and respond to your loss.
Step 4: Remove the Water (if it's safe)
If the water is clean, use a sump pump, wet vacuum, or mop to remove the water once your insurer has provided approval. Be aware that most home floods that are caused by extreme weather are contaminated by sewage and chemicals that pose health hazards. If you’re unsure whether the water in your home is safe to come in contact with, contact and wait for a restoration contractor who is trained in safely extracting water from your home to arrive on site.
Step 5: Remove Wet Contents and Dry Them Out
It only takes 24-48 hours for mold to begin forming inside your home. It is important to remove all wet contents as soon as possible in order to minimize the growth of mold that can damage your home and health. Any salvageable items from the flooded area should be dried out as quickly as possible and items that have too much damage or may grow mold should be discarded. If a damaged carpet cannot be dried in a timely manner, it’s best to remove it.
Step 6: Prevent Future Floods
Flood insurance is important and beneficial for people living in high-risk flood zones. Check for risks within and outside your home, including broken pipes, poor drainage, clogged rain gutters, malfunctioning appliances, and damaged foundations. Take steps to protect your property and prevent flooding in the future.
Update Your Home Inventory
It’s important to be prepared with an up-to-date inventory of your home. When disaster strikes and you need to file a claim, having an inventory will save you money and stress by providing proof of your claim, which will speed up processing, increase the likelihood that your loss is fully covered, and allow you to move on with your life faster.
Download Encircle’s free home inventory app onto your Android or Apple mobile device: