With the start of spring bringing a lot of rain to certain areas of South Africa, you need to get clued up on how to protect your home, and fast!
Luckily, by performing regular checks and carrying out comprehensive maintenance to relevant areas of the home, you won't only minimise damage, but also alleviate the risk of having an insurance claim rejected.
Here's how to protect the inside of your home:
Make sure you know the exact location of all shut-off valves of the following: the main water supply, appliances that utilise water (i.e. dishwasher, washing machine and icemakers), sinks and toilets. By doing this, you can quickly shut off the water supply before it causes further damage and before the plumber arrives to fix the problem. Also, turn off your water supply if you’re going to be away from home for longer than a week.
Conduct regular inspections along plumbing lines for any leaks, damage or corrosion. The sooner these problems are detected, the sooner you can contact a licensed plumber for further inspection and repairs to avoid higher costs of damage.
The average lifespan of a geyser is approximately 7-10 years so it is important to regularly check for any signs of leaking. If any are detected, call a plumber asap! It is also essential to drain the geyser in order to remove sediment from the bottom of the tank (although this can be done as a DIY project it is advisable that the expertise of a plumber is used.)
Water Appliance Hoses
All appliances that use water to operate, including the washing machine, dishwasher, ice maker, air conditioner and garbage disposal, should be regularly inspected for leaks and should periodically have the supply hoses changed. It is also important to ensure that all drain lines are unhindered and flowing freely.
Utilising vents will facilitate in preventing moisture from damaging walls caused by moisture-producing appliances. It is always a good idea to use exhaust fans or open windows when cooking or running the dishwasher.
An extractor fan located in the bathroom will assist greatly in reducing moisture from hot water usage which can lead to unsightly mould and deterioration of the walls. One should also check for caulking around tubs and showers to ensure that a watertight seal is maintained.
Always check for leaky taps located in kitchens and bathrooms. If the taps are leaking from the spout it is most likely that the washers need replacing. Bear in mind that when working on leaking taps it is crucial to ensure that the water supply is cut to avoid unnecessary water damage and flooding.
Walls and floors
Regularly inspect foundation walls and floors for cracks that might allow water leakage, particularly when living in an older home or an area with poor soil drainage. One should also avoid storing valuable items in a basement; however, if absolutely necessary, items should be stored on racks and shelves above the floor level to minimise damage.
Protecting Your Home’s Exterior:
It’s crucial to regularly check the roof for missing, worn or broken roofing materials that can allow water to infiltrate and weaken the roof’s structure. Look around for any water spots, standing water or mould. Dampness on ceilings or walls can signal leaks that are just getting started. After a severe storm, inspect your roof thoroughly or contact a licensed roofer for further evaluation and repairs.
Clean gutters and drain pipes to avoid leaves and other debris from clogging them up and damaging your exterior siding. Make sure that water is draining away from your house. Clogged gutters can cause water to pool on the roof which will result in rotting and leaks. Gutters should be checked at least twice a year; the best time to do so is during the transitional seasons of spring and summer.
Windows and Doors
Windows and exterior doors are subject to wear and tear, due to constant use and exposure to weather conditions. Over time the door frame materials can deteriorate and fail. Sealing drafty doors and windows by replacing the seals not only keeps the cold of winter outside, but could add to the resale value.
Cladding and Paint
Regular checking for cracks, holes and peeling in the cladding and paint of the home is important as it may reveal early signs of a leak. Where needed it is advisable to replace the caulk to avoid water and mould from seeping in to crevices.
If you have a holiday or seasonal home, it is essential to shut off the main water supply and have all water pipes drained by a plumber if the home will be locked up for a lengthy period. During this time it might also be a good time for the plumber to inspect all water lines, the geyser and appliances that use water to avoid any nasty surprises when the home is reopened for use.
By being proactive and inspecting these key areas of the home on a regular basis for water damage, you can save a lot of money, not only by detecting signs of water damage at an early stage, resulting in fewer costs to repair; but maintenance will also be kept up to date, mitigating the risk of possible insurance claim repudiations.
Christelle Fourie is the Managing Director of MUA Insurance Acceptances.