It’s winter, which means frozen pipes. It’s an unfortunate fact that in older buildings, insulation surrounding pipes is not nearly as good as it is in newly renovated buildings, and this can lead to rusted pipes, freezing pipes, and burst pipes! However it’s not just frozen and burst pipes that can cause water damage to your home, appliances, leaky windows, leaking pipes from a neighbor, are all ways that water can invade your house uninvited and wreak havoc! When pipes burst it can cause a host of headaches and issues for a homeowner, from water staines to complete flooding. But there are steps that can be taken to combat leaking and burst pipes in your home to prevent water damage to your home!
Understanding Possible Causes of Water Damage
Some of the most common instances of water damage come not from overt negligence, but from a small overlooked problem that builds up over time. Some of the most common causes of flooding, and thus water damage in apartments are:
- Overflowing toilets, which may result from clogged pipes
- Leaking bathtubs or shower pipes
- Broken or leaky water heater
- Leaky pipes behind walls or under sinks
- Burst pipes, caused by old or poorly fitted pipes under or inside of the home
- Leaks and holes in the roof, which allow heavy rainstorms to dump large quantities of water into the home
Who is Responsible for Fixing the Damage? Know Your Rights!
If there is water damage to your apartment is not based on your negligence, then the property manager, landlord, or superintendent, is likely responsible for fixing any structural damage to the apartment. For instance, if your bathtub floods (again, to no fault of your own), and damages the flooring in your bathroom, then the property manager or landlord should replace the tile to keep the unit livable. Your property manager will be responsible for these repairs, but only if you notify them immediately with written notice of the issue.
Anyone who rents an apartment, owns a house, or lives in a condo, should have insurance. Of course, there are different kinds of property insurance. Some cover interior fixtures like walls, floors, and pipes, while others also cover personal belongings. In some cases, insurance may even cover the cost of staying in a similarly-priced unit until all the necessary repairs are done.
Now, if your apartment is damaged due to negligence from a neighbor, your insurance will cover the cost of your belongings, but the damage to the structure of the apartment will have to be settled between your neighbor and your property manager or landlord. Though if it’s possible to prove the damage was preventable, your insurance company may pursue further action with the neighbor’s insurance carrier.
5 Steps You Can Take to Prevent Water Damage:
Check your Appliances
Appliances are the most common cause of in-home water damage. Check and maintain your appliances regularly for leaks according to manufacturer’s directions. We recommend paying special attention to the state of your washing machine and refrigerator hoses. When these become old and brittle, they often become leaky as well, and are among most frequent causes of water loss for homeowners. A hose typically has a life expectancy of about five years. Replace yours regularly to avoid a mighty mess and expensive damage.
Prevent Frozen Pipes and Pipe Bursts
Pipes in the crawl space, outside walls, and in the attic are vulnerable to freezing and bursting in cold temperatures. This is something that you’re landlord, building manager, co-op board, or building maintenance should be keeping an eye on, but if you know that you live in an older building that may have older pipes, it is a good idea to allow warmer air to circulate the plumbing when outside temperatures drop below 32°F by opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors. Move the products stored in these cabinets up, out of the reach of children and pets. A good way to keep pipes from freezing is to let cold water drip from the faucets served by exposed pipes. Running even a trickle of water through pipes helps prevent them from freezing.
Prevent ‘Spring Thaw’ Water Damage
Melting snow and ice can enter your home through the roof or foundation when spring arrives. Heavy snow on roofs can cause ice dams, which can create structural damage to the roof. If you live in an apartment that is maintained by a landlord, building manager, maintenance company, etc. they should be responsible for clearing snow and ice to ensure that there is no build up to cause water damage, but if you are a homeowner you should remove the snow from the roof when it’s at least 6 inches deep. Be sure to keep sewer grates clear of snow and debris to allow melted snow to flow unobstructed.
Install Water Detection Devices
A water detector is a small electronic device that sounds an alarm when its sensor is in contact with moisture. Its main benefit is that it detects low moisture levels or slow leaks that often go unnoticed. Install it near water heaters, sump pumps, washing machines, dishwashers and toilets to prevent extensive damage and mold growth.
Seal Up Cracks and Crevices
For little more than the price of a tube or two of caulking, you can eliminate leaks around windows and doors well before they begin. Any crack that you notice must be filled in; there is no such thing as a good or acceptable crack. Look for tell-tale signs of water leakage such as mold spots, bubbled paint, crumbly drywall or plaster, or termite activity. You can also point these things out to your building manager, landlord, or maintenance staff and have them provide support!
Call a Pro!
When your home is struck by water damage, it’s best to get a pro involved as soon as possible. There are a lot of things to consider after property has been damaged, and a lot of people who get involved. From the landlord, to the contractor, to the insurance adjustor, it can get overwhelming and confusing fast, and after having damage to your home, it is probably the last thing you want to deal with! The Klein team has extensive experience with damage restoration in NYC, and takes the burden off your shoulders so you can get back into your home as quickly as possible. From handling the insurance claims and adjusting, to ensuring that your restoration is up to code with the building and city, and of course creating a beautifully designed space that is restored quickly and efficiently, our talented team grants you peace of mind.
Have you had water damage in your home recently? Don’t know where to start? Get in touch with us ASAP to start getting your home back to normal.