Water damage: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 52 , No. 2 , March 2010 , Pages 102 News

Water damage is no laughing matter. It has been increasing in frequency and severity over the past 10 years and now accounts for approximately 40% of all property insurance claims. Suffering water damage at your home or office can be an enormous inconvenience and very traumatic, especially if you are forced to move out for a number of weeks while the damage is repaired.

Prevention is the best weapon against water damage and many incidences of water damage can be prevented with regular maintenance and inspection.

At your home or office
• Follow the maintenance recommendations on your hot water tank. Hot water tanks have a life expectancy of approximately 10 years but this depends on water quality use and maintenance.

• Inspect all sinks, tubs, showers, toilets, dishwashers, washing machines, water filters, and fridges for signs of water damage and wear and tear on a regular basis, perhaps every 3 months. Contact a professional im­med­iately if any repairs are needed.

• Check appliance hoses for soft/weak spots every 6 months. Also make sure there are no kinks in the hose. Replace the hoses with a better quality steel braided hose when they show wear and tear or every 5 years, whichever occurs first.

• Turn the tap to the washing machine off when it is not in use. Most hoses were not designed for constant household pressure of 70 pounds psi. A broken washing machine hose will release approximately 650 gallons of water each hour.

• Turn off the water supply to the fridge, dishwasher, water filtration system, and any other water appliance when you leave home for more than a couple of days.

• Water sensors can be used to prevent damage. They can either sound an alarm or they can shut the water off to the dwelling. Some new models do not require hard wiring or plumbing. They simply attach to the faucet. Ask your local plumbing supply centre (e.g. Rona or Home Depot) for assistance.

• Keep drains clean. Dirty drains are more likely to back up or break. Older homes and buildings are more likely to have damaged drainage systems from silting, shifting, and other ground and vegetation issues. TV/video pipe inspections are the first step to resolving and preventing drainage problems. They take about 2 hours and are inexpensive (e.g., CleanDrains.ca in Burnaby).

• Consult a roofing professional if there are signs of ice damming on your roof. Ice damming is caused by improper ventilation or insulation of your attic. It can cause considerable damage to your home or injury to people.

• During the winter season, if you are going to be away from your residence for any length of time, have someone check the home daily to ensure that it is heated and there will not be any freezing pipes. If no one can check the home daily, turn off the main water line to the house and drain all pipes, water appliances, and hot water tank. Consult a professional if you are unsure how to do this.

• Always consult a professional be­fore doing any repairs. 

• Maintenance of your home is critical. If your pipes are old they need to be updated before they start to rust and leak. 

Insurance policies will pay for any resulting water damage but they will not pay to fix and update old piping. Gutters need to be checked for rust and any leaves should be removed to prevent water backing up under the roof.

There are a number of helpful web sites that you can also visit to find out more information regarding water damage and how to prevent it: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/gemare/index.cfm; Insurance Bureau of Canada: www.ibc.ca/en/BeSmartBeSafe/Loss_Prevention_Tips/Keep_Dry.asp.
—Sandie Braid, CEBS
BCMA Insurance Department

Sandie Braid, CEBS. Water damage: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. BCMJ, Vol. 52, No. 2, March, 2010, Page(s) 102 - News.



Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

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