Got a Wet Basement? Here’s What You Can Do!

January 29, 2012

Did you know that homeowners policies typically do not cover damage caused by your wet basement? Excess water is typically caused by surface water running down foundation walls, groundwater, storm sewer water, sanitary sewer water from a clog in a sewer line.

Kind of a major bummer, isn’t it?

Just think of what you’d lose- baby clothes, heirlooms, photo albums… all things it is difficult to put a price on.

Here are a few ways to manage this risk:

1) Add the Sump-Pump Overflow Coverage to your homeowner’s insurance policy.

The Water Back Up/Sump Discharge or Overflow Endorsement insures your direct physical loss to a maximum limit of $5,000.00 (subject to a $250.00 deductible), so long as it is not caused by your negligence. The coverage applies to both your basement and your personal property if damage is caused by water or waterborne material which either backs up through sewers or drains; or overflows/is discharged from a sump or related equipment — even if the discharge occurs due to mechanical breakdown.*

It is a coverage available by request and comes in handy if you’d like to protect that finished basement of  yours!

2) Clean your gutters.

Depending on how many trees you have around your house, you may have to clean them a few times per year. Not cleaning your gutters may cause  large quantities of surface water to drain and pool down next to the foundation of your home. If this happens regularly and it is not caused by leaves, you should check and see if you have enough downspouts to support adequate draining.

3) Install a perimeter drain system with a sump pump.

The system is built to push groundwater into the drain system and not into areas where it can damage carpets, walls, or personal-belongings. The water drains into a sump pit where a sump pump discharges it out of the house.

*The original exclusion to Water Damage is replaced by the following. Water means: flood, surface water, waves, including tidal wave and tsunami, tides, tidal water, overflow of any body of water, or spray from any of these, all whether or not driven by wind, including storm surge; Water which backs up through sewers or drains; or overfows or is otherwise discharged from a sump pump or related equipment; as a direct or indirect result of flood; Water below the surface of the ground including water which exerts pressure on, or seeps, leaks or flows through a building, sidewalk, driveway, patio, foundation, swimming pool or other structure; or Waterborne material carried or otherwise moved by any of the water referred to in this exclusion. This exclusion applies regardless of whether any of the above is caused by an act of nature or otherwise caused. It applies to, but is not limited to, escape, overflow or discharge, for any reason, of water or waterborne material from a dam, levee, seawall or any other boundary of containment system.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and is not necessarily true for all insurance companies. Call your agent for additional information.

The Dangers of Melting Snow: Farewell, Frosty

December 29, 2010

Melting snow is more of a danger than you may realize. And not just that it destroys the snowman your kids just built. Admittedly, it is really sad to see Frosty reduced to a puddle of water mixed with a carrot, a hat and some eyes made out of coal.

I’m talking about what snow melt can cause…

  • Falling ice. The solution to saving your windshield is to not drive near power lines or trees. Since that is unavoidable, just be aware of it. If you are walking, the best way to protect yourself is by wearing a hat, sunglasses and a thick coat. Or not walking.
  • Street flooding. Don’t speed through puddles. That’s your ticket to hydroplane city. And that’s a place no one wants to visit.
  • Black ice (if the melted pools re-freeze). Black ice is scary because it’s either really hard to see or totally impossible to see. Especially when driving at night. If you know it to be a danger, you should just drive cautiously: slower, not swervey.
  • Seepage into the basement if the snow hugs the periphery of your house. Moving the snow just 3 to 5 feet from the house will reduce problems.
  • Watch that sump pump! Test it by pouring water into the pit. “Make sure the discharge hose carries the water several feet away from the house to an area that drains well. Make sure the sump pump discharge hose is on sloped ground so it drains to prevent it from freezing.” (I take this tip and the one before it from NDSU — North Dakota State University).
  • The same source also advises to shovel your yard. But that would take forever. Their point is that it causes “wet soil” (aka- lots of mud). So, since you are probably not Superman, just be aware that that can make your yard really slippery as well. And if you fell, you would not be a happy camper.
  • About your roof, according to the NDSU, “about 2,500 gallons of water will come from a 1,000-square-foot roof with snow 1 foot deep across the roof. This much water may cause seepage problems if allowed to drain next to the house. Hellevang recommends homeowners make sure their eave trough or gutter downspouts carry the water several feet from the house to a well-drained area.”
  • Ice dams: “The warmth from your house melts the snow on the top of your roof… As this melted snow runs down the roof,…it then reaches the roof edge which is at sub zero temperature…this drop in temperature causes the snowmelt to refreeze creating the dams that you often see on people’s houses in winter. The weight of these dams can cause a problem itself…When further snowmelt collects in pools against the dams,…this water eventually runs through the roof and into the house.” (Source: eZine Articles)

So print this out and, though unfortunate, you probably have a whole list of things to do this weekend.

(Source of Photo)

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