Interior floods in the home

Most of the time, when we think of floods, we imagine a natural disaster, and that the people impacted live in a 100 year flood plain.  On the east coast, basements are the part of the home usually impacted by floods.  Interior floods in the home can happen to anyone with plumbing, though. Today I want to share what happened to us in mid December 2012 and hope it can help others to avoid our experience.

Interior floods in the home – our story (late 2012)

A few years back we had a large amount of water intrusion due to a refrigerator water line that broke. One surprise lead to another.

First, the apparent cause may have been a different plumbing issue: dissimilar metals, copper and galvanized steel, not properly separated. It was on one of the to-do lists that just didn’t get done fast enough. We see things like that on home inspection reports and don’t always understand the risks.

I first discovered the water on December 9th, 2012, when I noticed that our dining room’s carpeting didn’t look quite right – and found it damp.  My initial thought was that our elderly dog had had an accident, but there was far too much liquid and it all seemed to be up against the wall backing to the kitchen, so it didn’t take long to realize that the pooch was not to blame.

The first job was finding what was wet so that it could be dried out ASAP, before mold got a foothold. The dining room was carpeted, so it was easy to simply pull the carpet back and check the underlayment.  (In this image, the kitchen is to the left, and the pantry and half bath are behind the wall straight ahead.) I  had a lot of calls to make to flood remediation companies, to our insurance company, etc. I was concerned about mold as I’d taken a 3 hour class in that subject at a real estate conference, so I wanted the leak stopped and the water removed immediately.



Damage from the flood in our dining room
The dining room at my house, which backs to the kitchen wall where the refrigerator water line leaked. The damage was not fully apparent until the carpet was pulled back.


Interior floods in the home built pre-1978

Back to that first task of figuring out what was wet – the dining room was easy due to carpet. The kitchen and other nearby areas were a different story.

Read moreInterior floods in the home

Heavy rains, sump pump failures, flooding and insurance

Beware!Our much needed heavy rains have come at last.  A bucket in my backyard has collected more than 6 inches of water in just a few days.

Rain is collecting in other places, too.  Sump pumps are common in Los Gatos – particularly if your home is on or near a hill.  Most are run on electricity only.  Some have battery backups so that they keep working when the power fails.

But what if the sump pump malfunctions and stops working?  It may result in water accumulating in a crawl space.  Or if the sump pump aims to keep a basement dry, it could end up flooded.

What I’m learning this week is that sump pump failures are not covered by home owner’s insurance unless there’s a special rider or endorsement attached.  (And a home warranty won’t cover the sump pump failure if they determine that it was installed incorrectly.)

If you have a sump pump, it’s important to keep it clear of debris and perform maintenance so that it doesn’t give up the ghost when you need it most.  If that sump pump is protecting living space especially, please talk to your insurance agent about adding a rider and whether that makes sense for you and your specific property.    Lastly, please consider upgrading the sump pump to one with a battery backup, too.

Here are a couple of related articles fyi:

Beware of These Common Holes in Homeowners Insurance Coverage (US News article)

Will Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Sump Pump Failure? (Article on Zack’s)