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GuideOne Risk Resources for Health Care
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W. Des Moines, IA 50265-3538



How to Prevent Water Damage

Water damage can result in increased maintenance costs, structural damage, and a decline in indoor air quality and the overall aesthetics of your building. One of the best ways to prevent water damage is to implement and perform regular self-inspections that can identify potential causes of water damage. Incorporate the following checkpoints into your inspection.

Building Interior

  • Check water (supply and drain) lines annually for proper connections, leaks and damage. Contact a qualified, licensed plumbing contractor if you have concerns.

  • Regularly check hoses and water supply lines on appliances for leaks, bulges, cracking, etc. Hoses for washing machines, dishwashers, ice makers and drinking fountains are under constant pressure. If a leak were to occur, the potential for large amounts of water to be discharged is possible.

  • Check for signs of current or past water damage, such as rotten wood, damaged walls or floors, stained ceiling panels, dampness or standing water in the basement.

  • Check caulking around toilets, sinks, showers and tubs.

  • Make sure air conditioning units have clean drip pans and that drain lines are clear of any deposits that could clog.

  • Inspect basement walls and floors for cracks that could allow water to enter.

  • Make sure the attic has adequate insulation and ventilation to keep it cool and help prevent ice dam formation in the winter. Rust spots, rusty nails, or the odor of mildew could be an indication of insufficient ventilation. Hire a licensed contractor to help determine if additional insulation is needed.

  • Make sure any openings in the attic, such as heat ducts, light fixtures and vent pipes, are sealed.

Building Exterior

  • Keep gutters, downspouts and eaves clear of debris to allow for proper drainage of water from the roof. Clean them every fall and spring.

  • Make sure downspouts extend at least six feet from the building to carry water away from the foundation. This will ensure that water is not draining down the foundation into the drain tile, which could lead to basement flooding.

  • Inspect the exterior for wall cracks, damaged siding, deteriorated trim, loose caulk around windows and doors, and peeling paint.

  • Check the roof for cracking, blistering, cupping or peeling of asphalt shingles. This is an indication that the roof's life span is nearing the end and will soon no longer effectively divert water from rain, snow or melting ice. On a flat roof, look for standing or pooling water..

  • Make sure the flashing or coping around the edge of the roof is in good condition.

  • Inspect items that have been cut into the roof, including attic vents, sewer vents, chimneys, and skylights. Leaks are more susceptible around these areas and they should be inspected to ensure flashing and caulking is in good condition and watertight.

  • Keep trees trimmed to prevent them from rubbing against the roof and remove any dead branches that could fall onto the roof.

Conducting regular inspections, making repairs and taking other prompt, corrective actions will help protect your building from water damage. For more information on water damage prevention, visit the Property Safety Resources section.

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