What to Do About Home Water Intrusion

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Home Improvement

Rain is not something we are used to in Southern California. Some are excited to see the river jetties full and to experience the possibility of being out of a drought, while others are ready to get back to baseball and live the sunny life we are so used to. With the good, comes the dreaded task, home maintenance. This begs the question, what happens to a house when the ground stays wet for long periods of time and moisture builds up under the house and in the walls?

Mold, mildew, and dust mites thrive in humid conditions. These can cause allergy and asthma symptoms, making you and your family uncomfortable in your home. If the excess humidity settles in the floors or walls, it can also cause structural damage to the building.

In beach areas, efflorescence is a common site as crystalline deposits of salts can form when water is present in or on brick, concrete, stone, stucco or other building surfaces. It has a white or greyish tint and consists of salt deposits that remain on the surface after water evaporates. Although efflorescence itself isn't dangerous or harmful, it can lead to potential moisture problems that can cause structural damage to building materials. So it is important to take action when you notice efflorescence in your basement, on your paving stones, or on other structures.

Water build up beneath and around a home in landscaped areas can also be a problem. You should begin by checking the grading of the land surrounding your home. If it is not sloping away from your home, your landscape design might be the primary cause of your water pooling problem. If your landscape isn't the cause, check that your drainage system isn't clogged with leaves, sticks, and other debris. It is important to make sure you have proper drainage and if not, install French drains, sump pumps, etc. to avoid water build up.

This got me thinking how homeowners might or might not be covered by their insurance policy in the instance water does become an issue for them. Does a standard home insurance policy cover the after effects of so much rain? What should SoCal residents think about and consider to make sure we are taking proper care of our home and avoiding nasty repercussions?

I reached out to my colleague and expert in the field, Floribel Ferreira with State Farm Insurance and asked her some key questions.

1.    What types of rain damage does homeowners insurance cover?

This is not an all inclusive list of covered damages. It can vary from insurance company to insurance company.

The most common rain damage coverages are water leaks from the roof into the home- Maintenance of your roof is the most important during heavy rain falls. If there are solar panels on your home – you may want to check that the holes around the solar panels are properly sealed, as water can seep into the home. Failures of sump- pumps or French drains due to malfunctioning from too much water; not if the sump pump was not on or not functioning.

Homeowners insurance will cover water damage if a tree damages your roof and allows rain to seep through. Most insurance companies will pay to remove the tree from the house, but not to remove the tree from the property.

Any type of flooding would be covered under a flood policy as homeowners’ policies are meant to cover the structure and flooding is not part of the structure coverage.

2.    What types of rain damage are not covered?

Some cases where water damage would not be covered includes but is not limited to:

  • Rain water that comes into the house from the foundation (surface water) is not covered. If it comes in through the concrete slabs it is not covered.  
  • Water damage from water coming in from an open window or from under the doors due to the exterior doors not being properly sealed at the bottom.

3. What are some ways homeowner’s can prevent water damage to their home?

Proper maintenance is the key. Clean the gutters from leaves and debris. Maintain the roof to ensure there are no active leaks. If the home has any other siding besides stucco making sure that the exterior does not have any rotting or missing pieces.

4. Do renter’s policies cover water issues?

Yes! On their personal property. The structure itself is covered by the landlord. It is extremely important that renters have a renter's policy. Any damage to their personal property due to rain damage will be covered under the renter's policy not the landlord policy.

5. What are your recommendations for new coverage?

You should always review your policy annually with a professional to make sure you have the correct policy for your residence. Additional coverage you may want to add includes:

  • Back up of drain and sewage is an important endorsement to have on your homeowners.
  • Special limit for water damage endorsement.

The Telltale Signs of Moisture Problems In Your Home

Keep an eye out for some of these potential issues in your home that could be a sign of something worse.

  • Musty Odors from Mold and Mildew. 
  • Visible Mold or Mildew. 
  • Rotten Wood. 
  • Sticking Doors and Windows. 
  • Floorboard Issues. 
  • Bubbling or Peeling Wallpaper or Paint. 
  • Water Stains On Your Ceiling.

If you suspect water damage to your home, contact your insurance agent right away for remediation assistance.

Some State Farm Links:

Water in Basement | State Farm®

Minimize Excess Moisture | State Farm®

Roof Maintenance Tips For Your Home | State Farm®