Preventing and Preparing for a Flood in Los Angeles

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Although we are pleased to service any emergency flood that may occur in either a home or business, we would also like to provide some helpful tips on prevention and preparation for such an occurrence. Flood damage to Los Angeles property could have been avoided by following some of the suggested tips.
 Most insurance companies DO NOT cover floods that are a result of a sump pump failure or a drain back up, however, some offer a rider to your existing policy which is relatively affordable. Check your home owner’s policy and see if you have such coverage. If not, contact your agent and ask about adding this coverage or have your insurance broker locate a company that has “Act of God” type flooding as a standard part of the coverage.
  If you have live in a home that is 5 to 10 years old or more, it is important to have your drains checked and possibly snaked out as per the recommendation of a professional plumbing company. If there are trees in your yard, the root will eventually grow into the drain pipe, thereby causing a blockage that will not allow water to properly flow to the sewer. This can help prevent water damage in Los Angeles home.
  If you have a sump pump that runs regularly, consider a back up system. Some plumbing companies offer a system that works off of water pressure in the event electrical service is lost. Test your sump on occasion by filling the sump hole with enough water to trigger the pump.
  Be certain to turn off outside water spigots from inside the home for the winter season. These valves are typically found on the opposite side of the spigot inside the home.
 Don’t forget to have your irrigation system turned off and serviced in the fall of the year.
 Inspect the hoses behind your washing machine, under sinks, refrigerator ice maker line, etc. These hoses are known to burst and cause flooding usually because of an inferior hose choice. Replace all hoses with “burst proof” ones that can be purchased at most big box hardware and lumber stores and are relatively affordable. The most common hose to burst is the hot feed line on the back of the washing machine. The poor quality hose is typically constructed of black rubber. The braided burst proof types are far less likely to fail.
  NEVER run your washing machine or dishwasher when you are away from home!
 NEVER leave your home for a vacation or even an overnight stay without turning off the water at the main shut off.
 Valuable items that are stored in a basement such as photos, important documents, clothing, etc. should be placed in water tight containers or plastic contractor bags if they are near to the floor. Large Tupperware containers work well and are affordable. Consider putting other storage items on top of two by four wood or purchase inexpensive shelving units and allow for a water depth of 4 to 6 inches before any items are exposed to flood water.
NEVER leave your home for any significant amount of time without shutting off the main water valve into the Los Angeles home. The most damaging of typically occurs during the colder months when a pipe is frozen on the second level of a home and the home is unoccupied or the residents are out of town. This scenario is catastrophic, costing tens of thousands of dollars and often results in occupants having to move away from the home for an extended period of time during the repairs.

Preventing Water Damage In Your Home

Water damage can often be avoided with routine maintenance and assistance from qualified contractors.

It will be well worth your time to take a few extra moments every week to check potential trouble spots in and around your home. Early detection could mean the difference between a simple mop-up job and major construction repairs

General Tips

  • Check for hidden leaks by turning off faucets, all water-using appliances, and not flushing toilets for one hour. Record the water meter reading. If the flow indicator (triangular or diamond-shaped rotating button) is spinning or the meter reading has changed while no water is being used, a leaking pipe may exist.
  • Know where the main water shut off valve is located in your home and check it frequently to make sure it is operational.

Inside Your Home

Water leaks can happen anywhere in the house, but they occur most frequently in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry rooms.

Kitchen

  • Dishwasher – Periodically check under the sink to see if the hose connection to the water supply line is secure and is not leaking. Check around the base of the dishwasher for evidence of leaks. Look for discolored, warped, or soft flooring materials or water damage to nearby cabinets.
  • Refrigerator – If your refrigerator has an icemaker, check the hose connection to make sure it is securely attached to the water supply line. The wet spot you see on the floor near the refrigerator may be melted ice cubes or it may be a crimped icemaker line about to burst.
  • Sink – Recaulk around sinks and pay attention to slow-draining pipes. This may indicate a partially blocked drain. Check the pipes under the sink for signs of water leaks.

Bathroom

  • Showers and bathtubs – Discoloration or soft areas around floors and walls near showers or bathtubs may be your first indication there is a leak. Check caulking at joints where the walls meet the floor or the bathtub, looking for cracks or mold. If either is found, clean and remove loose material and apply new sealant. If the shower walls or floor are tiled, a leak may develop if there are cracks or missing areas of grout.
  • Sinks – Check under the sink for signs of leaks from water supply lines or drainpipes.
  • Toilets – Placing inappropriate objects or too much toilet paper in the bowl can accidentally clog toilets, especially low-flow toilets now required in homes. Hanging bowl deodorants are frequently the culprits. These objects can lodge deep in the plumbing system, and can block the line or create an obstruction that grease and other materials can cling to – eventually causing blockage. In addition, some chlorine tablet cleaners may corrode some of the internal components, eventually leading to a leak.

Laundry/Utility Room

  • Washing Machine – Inspect washing machine hoses regularly for wetness around hose ends and signs of bulging, cracking or fraying. Replace the hose if a problem is found or every three to five years as part of a proactive maintenance program.
  • Water heater – Most water heaters last 10 to 15 years. Wet spots on the floor or a rusted tank may signal a problem. Hot water heaters should be installed on the lowest level of the home and always located next to a floor drain. If installed above or adjacent to finished spaces, the hot water heater should be placed inside a drain pan with the drain pan piped to the floor drain.
  • Air conditioning – At the start of the cooling season, have the A/C system serviced by a qualified contractor. Make sure their service includes inspecting and cleaning the air conditioner condensation pan drain line to keep it free of obstructions. Change the air filters on a regular basis.

Basement

  • Sump pump – Sump pump systems assist in keeping unwanted water out of your home. Battery-operated back-up sump pumps can offer a degree of protection against power failure or failure of the primary pump. A generator can also be used to power the pump in case of a power failure. Test the sump pump before the start of each wet season to ensure it is in working order. Sump pumps are not intended to last more than 10 years and must have some components replaced or serviced within those 10 years.

Outside Your Home

Leaking roofs, poor drainage, and clogged gutters and downspouts can lead to significant water damage inside your home.

General Tips

  • Disconnect garden hoses from all spigots before the start of winter.
  • Fill in any low spots around the house so water drains away from the foundation.
  • Inspect caulking around windows and doors and replace as needed where cracked or deteriorated.
  • Repaint wood siding as needed.

Roof

  • Keep roof, valleys, gutters and downspouts free from buildup of leaves, twigs and other litter preventing proper drainage.
  • Proper roof and eave ventilation may help extend the life of the roof by reducing the buildup of heat and moisture in the attic.
  • Preservatives available for some types of roofs may help limit weathering effects of moisture and retard growth of molds and mosses. This can help prevent mold damage. Los Angeles homes can get mold easily.
  • Avoid walking on a roof to limit wear and tear. Only necessary repairs or inspections should warrant walking on the roof.
  • Keep trees trimmed to prevent them from rubbing against the roof or from providing excessive shade.
  • Watch for these warning signs:
  • Missing, curling, cupping, broken or cracked shingles.
  • Damage or deterioration around the flashing at chimneys, vents and other junctions.
  • Damage or deterioration in valley areas of the roof.
  • Water stains on your ceiling. If possible, check your attic around flues, plumbing vents, and chimneys.
  • Pooling or ponds of water that fail to drain from flat or low sloped roofs may indicate low areas and inadequate drainage.

Gutters/Downspouts

  • Clean debris from your gutters and inspect them regularly.
  • Consider purchasing gutter shields if your gutters frequently fill with debris.
  • Downspouts should extend several feet away from the house to carry water away from the foundation.

Hardware that can help

Water leak detection systems can help you check for leaks when you can’t.

Water Alarms

This device is only beneficial if someone is inside the home, hears the alarm and takes action to stop the leak.

  • These systems are typically battery-operated, stand-alone units. They are inexpensive and easy to install.
  • A moisture sensor is located on the device and will activate an audible alarm when it senses moisture.
  • Water alarms can be placed on the floor or they may be wall mounted.
  • The water alarm should be located in high-risk areas such as under sinks and near appliances and equipment that use water.
  • Water alarms range in cost from $8 to $45.

Individual Appliance Systems

  • These systems are installed on a specific appliance and will automatically shut off the water supply in the event of a leak.
  • Depending on the type of device, you may be able to install this system without any special tools. However, in some cases, a qualified plumber may be needed.
  • Individual appliance systems range in cost from $50 to $150.

Whole-house Systems

  • These systems feature a shut-off valve that is installed on the main water supply piping. When a leak is detected, the system will automatically shut off the entire water supply.
  • Some models can be integrated with a local or central station security system.
  • If you travel often, this type of system could offer you additional peace of mind while you are away from home.
  • Whole-house systems typically take between four and six hours to install. They cost between $500 and $1,500 depending on labor rates and the size of the system.

Related – Fire Damage Los Angeles – What You Need to Know.

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