Helping your building cope with rainwater
All many parts of the United Kingdom have suffered some severe flooding in the last few weeks, result in large scale damage and some pretty hefty repair bills. Other parts of the country have also experienced very heavy rain fall and whilst most have been lucky to escape flood damage, many homeowners are finding they are experiencing property damage caused by the large volumes of water that are falling in short spaces of time. We have received a number of claims from properties situated well away from flood plains and rivers etc whose infrastructure simply could not cope with the weather conditions. A good program of maintenance can help your building deal with excess water and these tips do not only apply to homeowners. One of our business customers who runs a shop on a typical high street lost a substantial amount of stock that was being kept in a basement, simply because external drains had not been cleared for many years and the water had no where to run way.
Before we discuss what can be done to help protect your building from water damage, a few words about building and contents insurance policies in general. It should always be remembered that insurance polices are designed to cover sudden and unforeseen losses. The insurance company provides the customer with a policy document which lists a number of perils that insurance cover is provided for. So for example if your house burns down, you can make a claim under the fire section of your home insurance policy. However, many people feel aggrieved when they try to make a claim and it is not covered by their policy. It should always be remembered that insurance policies are not maintenance contracts and normal wear and tear and depreciation are not covered by the policy. It can be a little tricky because whilst a pipe that bursts perhaps through old age is not covered for insurance purposes, the resulting damage is. in this scenario, if your pipes burst and flood your house, subject to policy terms and conditions and the insurance company validating the claim, you will be able to claim for the damage that the water has done to your building and or contents.
A good program of maintenance should be put in place by all home owners to make sure that their building is keep in excellent condition, often this is quite a large task but it doesn’t have to be done all at once. A good idea is to make a list of works that need to be carried out and start with the most urgent.
Waste water disposal system – What to look for
The way that your property disposes of waste water is vitally important to help protect against an insurance claim, at the present moment, we are experiencing almost unprecedented amounts of rainfall in this country and thus keeping your buildings drainage in good order is vital. The main things to look out for are as follows.
- Cracks in pipe work and guttering.
- Silt & Grit
- Displaced or loose fittings
- Inadequate falls
- Missing gutters
- Missing sections of pipe.
In recent weeks, we have seen a number of rather unfortunate and largely avoidable claims caused by flooding and lack of general maintenance at properties. In the majority of cases, gratings and pipes have been allowed to silt up or become blocked by leaves and they have been unable to cope with the sheer volume of rain water falling in such short spaces of time.
Every Autumn and spring, clear any plants and leaves including silt and grit from gutters, hopper heads, flat roofs and drainage channels. If you have a flat roof extension on your property, it is likely to be a condition of your building insurance policy that you have them inspected on a regular basis. Insurance aside, flat roofs constructed of felt on timber are notorious for leaking. At the present moment with the massive amounts of rainfall, many previously sound flat roofs are beginning to leak under the strain and in order to prevent this an inspection should be carried out by a builder or a qualified roofing contractor. If you have a flat roof on your property, you may even be able to get the builder to clean the guttering for you at the same time as they are attending to any necessary repair work for you.
When inspecting your drainage, look for any blocked down pipes, this type of inspection is best carried out during a period of heavy rainfall as it should be easy to spot any leaks. In dry weather be on the look out for stained brick work, this is a sure sign of damage. Keep all ground level gullies clear and have them cleaned professionally if required. Whilst snow may look very picturesque at your property, when it starts to melt it can cause damage. Make sure you clear it away from flat roof areas and from all drains and gullies. For the clearing work, use wooden or plastic tools, this will help prevent puncturing lead or zinc linings. Vegetation growing behind down pipes should always be removed as it can lead to blockages as well as eventually damaging brickwork.
Hand mirrors are a good way of checking behind pipes to spot cracks, particularly on old cast iron or metal pipe work, these often fracture in annoying out of the way places.. Bird and leaf guards fitted to the tops of soil pipes and rain water outlets can also help prevent the build up of waste materials.
Gutter junctions are also bests checked in rainy conditions. If they are loose, they should always be reaffixed, as if they are sloping the wrong way, they could be discharging large amounts of water straight in to your buildings walls. If you pipe work is made of cast iron, it will need to be regularly painted to prevent rust.