Protect Your Property From Water Damage

Finding Culprits Outside the Home

Foundation & Drainage

One of the first places to start when trying to prevent water damage is outside your home. Ensuring that rain and flood waters run away from your home instead of settling around the foundation is essential to prevent the weakening of it. Water will not only cause structural damage, but it will loosen the soil in the ground around the house and cause it to sink over time. Steps as simple as making sure soil at the base of the home is piled upward so that water drains away from the foundation rather than towards it can prevent costly problems later down the road.

Overloaded Gutters

During particularly rainy seasons, your gutters may not be able to cope with the amount of rainfall occurring. In such a case, water isn't guided by the gutters away from the house towards drainage but instead often makes its way to the foundation of your home as it spills over the gutters. Ensuring your gutters are large enough to handle the seasonal rainfall can prevent costly repairs and damage to your home later on.

Clogged Gutters

It is also recommended to check your gutters every 6 months to make sure that they are clear of debris, especially if there are trees over your roof or near your home. A gutter clogged with leafs, sticks, or anything else that can prevent water from flowing will prevent your gutters from doing their job!

Roof Angle

Your roof should be built at such an angle that water is not able to collect or sit standing for an extended period of time. Standing water on your roof will cause weak spots and will eventually leak into the home, which could lead to problems such as weakened roof supports and mould among other problems.

Air Flow

Ensure soffits and roof vents are not blocked and that air can flow freely. This will reduce the buildup of moisture (which can lead to problems such as mould).

Roof Condition

A leaky roof can allow moisture to build up in your attic leading to many problems including mould. Replace missing, curling, cupping, broken, or cracked shingles and if necessary replace the roof if the problem is not limited to a small section.

Culprits inside the Home

The Dishwasher

Periodically check for leaks under the sink where the hose connects to the water supply. Look around the base of the dishwasher for evidence of any leaks, such as discolored, warped, or soft flooring materials, or water damage to nearby cabinets.

The Refrigerator

If your refrigerator has an icemaker, it is important to check the water supply line connections and make sure that they are not loose. A wet spot on the floor may be a sign that a crimped icemaker line is about to burst.

The Sink

Replace deteriorated caulking around sinks, and check the plumbing under the sink for leaks. If your sink is slow to drain, it may indicate a partially blocked drain that needs cleaning.

Showers & Bathtubs

Remove and replace deteriorated or cracked caulk and groat. A broken supply pipe behind the wall can leak water through these damage sealants, causing soft areas around nearby walls and floors. Leaking drain pipes and shower pan leaks are also common sources of water damage.


A toilet which tends to overflow from clogs should be replaced. Some chlorine tablet cleaners may also corrode internal plastic or rubber parts causing the toilet to leak eventually.

Water Heater

Water heaters typically last no longer than 14 years, some can fail as early as 8 years or less. Wet spots on the floor or a rusted tank may signal a leak. Water heaters should be installed on the lowest level of the home with a floor drain very close by.

Sump Pump

In the event of a power failure, a sump pump cannot do it's job. A sump pump with battery backup can save potential disaster in the event of a power failure (which is often accompanied by heavy rainfall!). Sump pumps are not intended to last more than 10 years and must be serviced or replaced before this time period.

How to Protect Your Home From Water Damage

The Institute for Business & Home Safety offers the following tips:

Inside Your Home

  • Inspect hoses and faucets. Check hoses leading to water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines and refrigerator icemakers annually. Replace those with cracks or leaks, and replace them all every five to seven years.
  • Inspect showers and tubs. Check the seal and caulking around showers and tubs to make sure they are watertight.
  • Shut off the water supply to the washing machine while away on vacation, and never leave the house while the washer or dishwasher is running.
  • Know the location of the main water shut off valve in your home. A damaged hose or a burst pipe can send water racing into your home. By knowing where this valve is located and how to shut off the main water supply, you can save yourself time and money.
  • Install an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system. This will protect against the increased pressure caused by freezing pipes and can help prevent your pipes from bursting.
  • Check pipes. Look closely for cracks and leaks and have the pipes repaired immediately

Outside Your Home

  • Caulk and seal windows. Preventive maintenance will guard against water seepage.
  • Inspect your roof. Look for missing, damaged, and aging shingles.
  • Check your downspouts. Remove debris that may have accumulated in downspouts and rain gutters. Position downspouts so that they direct water away from the house.
  • Check sprinklers and irrigations systems. Be sure sprinklers and irrigation systems are not damaging the walls and foundations of the house; turn off and drain outside faucets to protect against frozen pipes. 
  • Install gutter guards.Gutter guards are the device used to protect the clogging of the roof gutter so that the water from the roof may flow easily and accumulation of water does not take place on the roof but away from the house.
Water may be essential to life, but, as a destructive force, water can diminish the value of your home or building. Homes as well as commercial buildings can suffer water damage that results in increased maintenance costs, a decrease in the value of the property, lowered productivity, and potential liability associated with a decline in indoor air quality. The best way to protect against this potential loss is to ensure that the building components, which enclose the structure, known as the building envelope, are water-resistant. Also, you will want to ensure that manufacturing processes, if present, do not allow excess water to accumulate. Finally, make sure that the plumbing and ventilation systems, which can be quite complicated in buildings, operate efficiently and are well maintained. This article provides some basic steps for identifying and eliminating potentially damaging excess moisture.

Identify and Repair All Leaks and Cracks

The following are common building-related sources of water intrusion:

  • Windows and doors: Check for leaks around your windows, storefront systems and doors.
  • Roof: Improper drainage systems and roof sloping reduce roof life and become a primary source of moisture intrusion. Leaks are also common around vents for exhaust or plumbing, rooftop air-conditioning units, or other specialized equipment.
  • Foundation and exterior walls: Seal any cracks and holes in exterior walls, joints and foundations. These often develop as a naturally occurring byproduct of differential soil settlement.
  • Plumbing: Check for leaking plumbing fixtures, dripping pipes (including fire sprinkler systems), clogged drains (both interior and exterior), defective water drainage systems and damaged manufacturing equipment.
  • Ventilation, heating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems: Numerous types, some very sophisticated, are a crucial component to maintaining a healthy, comfortable work environment. They are comprised of a number of components (including chilled water piping and condensation drains) that can directly contribute to excessive moisture in the work environment. In addition, in humid climates, one of the functions of the system is to reduce the ambient air moisture level (relative humidity) throughout the building. An improperly operating HVAC system will not perform this function.

Prevent Water Intrusion Through Good Inspection and Maintenance Programs

Hire a qualified GTA Restoration inspector to perform an inspection of the following elements of your building to ensure that they remain in good condition:

  • Flashings and sealants: Flashing, which is typically a thin metal strip found around doors, windows and roofs, are designed to prevent water intrusion in spaces where two building materials come together. Sealants and caulking are specifically applied to prevent moisture intrusion at building joints. Both must be maintained and in good condition.
  • Vents: All vents should have appropriate hoods, exhaust to the exterior, and be in good working order.
  • Review the use of manufacturing equipment that may include water for processing or cooling. Ensure wastewater drains adequately away, with no spillage. Check for condensation around hot or cold materials or heat-transfer equipment.
  • HVAC systems are much more complicated in commercial buildings. Check for leakage in supply and return water lines, pumps, air handlers and other components. Drain lines should be clean and clear of obstructions. Ductwork should be insulated to prevent condensation on exterior surfaces.
  • Humidity: Except in specialized facilities, the relative humidity in your building should be between 30% and 50%. Condensation on windows, wet stains on walls and ceilings, and musty smells are signs that relative humidity may be high. If you are concerned about the humidity level in your building, consult with a mechanical engineer, contractor or air-conditioning repair company to determine if your HVAC system is properly sized and in good working order. A mechanical engineer should be consulted when renovations to interior spaces take place.
  • Moist areas: Regularly clean off, then dry all surfaces where moisture frequently collects.
  • Expansion joints: Expansion joints are materials between bricks, pipes and other building materials that absorb movement. If expansion joints are not in good condition, water intrusion can occur.

Protection From Water Damage

  • Interior finish materials: Replace drywall, plaster, carpet and stained or water-damaged ceiling tiles. These are not only good evidence of a moisture intrusion problem, but can lead to deterioration of the work environment, if they remain over time.
  • Exterior walls: Exterior walls are generally comprised of a number of materials combined into a wall assembly. When properly designed and constructed, the assembly is the first line of defense between water and the interior of your building. It is essential that they be maintained properly (including regular refinishing and/or resealing with the correct materials).
  • Storage areas: Storage areas should be kept clean.  Allow air to circulate to prevent potential moisture accumulation.

Act Quickly if Water Intrusion Occurs

Label shut-off valves so that the water supply can be easily closed in the event of a plumbing leak. If water intrusion does occur, you can minimize the damage by addressing the problem quickly and thoroughly. Immediately remove standing water and all moist materials, and consult with a building professional. Should your building become damaged by a catastrophic event, such as fire, flood or storm, take appropriate action to prevent further water damage, once it is safe to do so. This may include boarding up damaged windows, covering a damaged roof with plastic sheeting, and/or removing wet materials and supplies. Fast action on your part will help minimize the time and expense for repairs, resulting in a faster recovery.

Water Damage Protect yourself against water damage

Basic Coverage

Your basic policy covers you against certain types of water damage. For example, it protects you in the event of leaks caused by:

  • Electric household appliances, such as a dishwasher
  • Plumbing problems, such as a burst pipe

Optional Coverage you can add optional coverage to your policy to protect you against:

  • Water damage – above ground water (Endorsement 42) caused by:
  • Seepage of rain or snow through the roof or walls
  • Water damage – surface or ground water (Endorsement 16c), including:
  • Sewer back-up

Do you have enough coverage for water damage? Determine how much coverage you need.