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In this issue

Winter home protection tips
Fire safety tips for the holidays
Shift into winter driving mode
Avoid water damage this winter

Avoid water damage this winter

A burst pipe, an overflowing toilet, a leaky roof, a backed-up sewer — these are just some of the ways water can damage your home and its contents. Water or sewage can ruin carpeting, furniture and electronic equipment, and destroy priceless family photos and valuables. It can also result in expensive repair bills.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), several things have increased the likelihood of water damage in homes. Increasingly severe weather; aging urban infrastructures that support bigger populations; lifestyle choices that include finished basements, hot tubs, dishwashers, sprinkler systems, and water-dispensing refrigerators — all these factors contribute to greater risk and costs associated with water damage. (Source: “Telling the Weather Story”, IBC)

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your home and your property.

Waterproof inside your home
Regular maintenance and the occasional upgrade to plumbing, fixtures, and appliances may save you in the long run.

  • Have a licensed plumber assess your plumbing — especially if you live in an older home with galvanized steel pipes, which typically last 40 to 50 years.
  • Check your pipes and hoses about every six months for rust, corrosion, condensation, mould or stains. Listen for dripping sounds and sniff out any musty odours, which may mean water is getting in somewhere it shouldn't.
  • Dispose of cooking fat properly. Never pour kitchen grease down the drain — it eventually congeals (no matter how much hot water you flush down after it) and can block your pipes or cause sewer backups.
  • Store valuable items on upper floors, or put them in plastic storage bins and place them up high.
  • Keep basement floor drains unobstructed and uncovered.
  • Always check your basement for leaks after a heavy rainfall or rapid thaw.
  • Install a sewer backup prevention valve on the main line of your home.
  • Create a sump pit and install a sump pump with reliable back-up power.
  • Leave about 10cm between the backs of appliances and the wall, to ensure hoses and connections don't crimp or kink.
  • Consider replacing plastic hoses with flexible CSA-approved stainless-steel braided hoses.
  • Anchor fuel tanks to the floor to avoid them from tipping over or floating in a flood, causing fuel to spill or catch fire. Make sure vents and fill-line openings are above flood levels. If you use propane, contact the propane company before proceeding.
  • Install flood shields or built-up barriers for basement windows and doors. The tops of the shields should extend above ground level.
  • Make sure your attic is properly insulated and ventilated, to prevent ice dams that may cause water seepage in winter.
  • If flooding is imminent, shut off electricity to areas of the home that might be affected.

Benefits of a backwater valve*
A backwater valve (also called a backflow valve) can help prevent sewage in an overloaded main sewer line from backing up into your basement. The valve automatically closes if sewage backs up from the main sewer.

A properly installed backwater valve helps limit the risk of water damage caused by a sewer backup. The valve must be placed so that sewage will be stopped short of other water outlets in your basement, such as sinks, toilets, showers and laundry tubs. It should also be positioned to allow easy access to check it for any material or clogs that may prevent the valve from operating properly.

*Check with your municipality about proper code before installing a backwater valve.

Going away?
Avoid the surprise (and mess) of water damage when you return from a trip.

  • If you're gone for more than three days, have someone check your property on a daily basis.
  • Store important documents and personal valuables away from flood-prone areas.
  • During any prolonged absence, shut off the water supply and drain the water lines and fixtures to prevent accidental flooding.
  • In winter, keep your heat set at a level that will prevent your pipes from freezing.

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only. Intact Insurance makes no representation, warranty or guarantee that use of this information will prevent damage or reduce your premium. Your insurance contract prevails at all times, please consult it for a complete description of coverage and exclusions. Products provided by Intact Insurance Company. Services provided by your broker. ®Intact Insurance Design and Intact Insurance small straight lines Design are registered trademarks of Intact Financial Corporation used under license. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2014 Intact Insurance Company Inc. All rights reserved.