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The 5 Most Common Types of Water Damage and How to Prevent them

May 2, 2024 1:45:00 PM

Water damage can be a homeowner's worst nightmare, causing not only financial strain but also health hazards if left untreated. Understanding the common types of water-related home insurance claims and implementing preventive measures can save you from costly repairs and headaches down the line. Here’s a breakdown of the most prevalent types of water damage and how you can mitigate the risks.

What are the most common types of water damage insurance claims? 

  1. General Water Damage
  2. Sewer Backup
  3. Overland Water
  4. Ground Water
  5. Service Lines

1. General Water Damage

General water damage encompasses sudden and accidental water damage caused by sources such as burst pipes, clogged toilets, or system ruptures.


How to Mitigate General Water Damage

Installing a leak detection system can be a great way to mitigate general water damage. Leak detection systems operate by monitoring water flow through your pipes. They track the pattern of the water flow and can indicate if a leak has started. Depending on the system, it may send an alert to notify you of a potential leak, or it may shut off the water supply to stop the leak from causing damage. This system should be installed by a professional plumber as close to the point of entry as is reasonably possible. 

Certain home security systems also have alarms and systems in place to alert you if leaks are occurring in your home. While these systems may not prevent a leak, they can alert you at the early stages to help mitigate accidents. Depending on the company, there are home insurance discounts available for having monitored security and/or leak detection systems. 

2. Sewer Backup

Sewer backup occurs when sewage flows back into your home through drains, toilets, or sinks. During heavy rainfall, sewers can fill up quickly and overflow into houses.  

How to Mitigate a Sewer Backup

Installing a backwater valve in your home can be an excellent way to mitigate a sewer backup. Depending on when your home was built, you may already have a backwater valve in your home. It will usually be located in your basement in a utility room. It will have a plastic cover over the top of it. The backwater valve prevents the rising sewer water from entering your home. 

It is important to note that if your backwater valve is engaged, do not use any water in the home. It will not be able to pass through the closed backwater valve and could result in flooding from failure to drain into the sewers. This includes flushing toilets, running the dishwasher, draining a tub, using the washing machine, or any other water usage with the water going down the drain. 


3. Overland Water

Overland water refers to rising water over dry land, caused by events like flash floods, melting snow, or overflowing rivers and lakes.

How to Mitigate Overland Water Damage

In catastrophic events such as an overflowing river, there generally isn’t much you’ll be able to do by yourself. However, in less dramatic circumstances such as melting snow, having proper drainage and grading on your property can go a long way. Maintaining clear gutters, and properly placed downspouts can help lead water away from the property.  


4. Ground Water

Groundwater infiltration occurs when groundwater enters your home through basement walls, foundations, or floors.

How to Mitigate Groundwater Infiltration

If groundwater is an issue, installing a sump pump in your basement can be an excellent water damage mitigation tool. A sump pump will kick on during times of elevated water and they will pump water out from under the home away from the basement and foundation. If your sump pump does not get regular use, you may want to pour water into your sump pump basin. This allows you to test and ensure it is functioning, while also pumping water through the system to ensure the seals are sufficiently lubricated. Insurance discounts may be available for the installation of sump pumps and backwater valves. 


5. Service Line Water Damage

Service line damage refers to water and sewer lines running from your property to the city lines. Depending on your municipality, you are likely responsible for at least a small part of the water and sewer lines that connect to your home. 

These lines can be damaged from corrosion, tree roots, excavation, or even just through soil settling. If there is damage to a service line, it can easily cause thousands in water damage. 

How to Mitigate Damage to Service Lines

With one of the main causes of service line damage is excavation, calling or clicking before you dig is paramount. Not only is it dangerous to excavate without knowing what’s underneath, but it can also be incredibly costly. 

In the case of tree roots or corrosion damaging service lines, there aren’t many options for preventative maintenance. You may be able to tell if there is an issue if your home has a slow-flowing drainage system or if you hear a gurgling noise coming from the toilet bowl. To rectify this issue, pipes may be cleared out with the use of augers and sealed again with a resin-lined material through the pipe. If this is not an option, you’ll likely need to undergo a full excavation to replace the pipe.  



By understanding these common types of water damage and implementing preventive measures, you can protect your home from potential disasters. Don't hesitate to reach out to your insurance agent or broker for guidance on coverage options and possible discounts. Protecting your home today can save you from significant headaches tomorrow.

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Jake McCoy

Written by Jake McCoy


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