Given that the annual cost to insurance companies from water damages and mold in the U.S. is $2.5 billion, it is probably only a matter of time before you have some sort of water damage claim.

The average water damage insurance claim is $6,965.00, but can range from $3,642 for an internal water leak to $26,285 for a flooded house with 18 inches of water.

When looking at your appliances, keep in mind that the average age of a failed washing machine supply hose is 8.7 years and 75% of water heaters fail before they are 12 years old. 

Provided are some dos when dealing with flooded space.  Most are common sense, but all are good reminders. 

Water Damage Do’s (from clean water) 

  • Shut off the source of water (if possible) or call a licensed plumber to stop the water flow
  • Turn off circuit breakers for wet areas of the building
  • Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting
  • Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removing lamps and tabletop items
  • Remove to a safe dry place any paintings, art objects, computers, documents and other valuable or sensitive materials 

Water Damage Don’ts (from clean water) 

  • Don’t enter rooms with standing water where electrical hazards may exist
  • Don’t enter affected areas if electrical outlets, switches, circuit breakers or electrical equipment are exposed to water
  • Don’t leave books, newspapers, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors to cause staining
  • Don’t leave oriental rugs or other colored rugs on wet wall-to-wall carpets to cause staining
  • Don’t use your household vacuum cleaner to remove water
  • Don’t use TVs or other appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors, especially not on wet concrete floors
  • Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet or renter rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water 

Water Damage Do’s (from contaminated water) 

Avoid all contact with sewage and items contaminated by sewage

Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with contaminated items 

Water Damage Don’ts (from contaminated water) 

  • Don’t spread contaminated water by walking unnecessarily on damaged or wet areas
  • Don’t turn on HVAC system if damaged by water which could spread contaminated air
  • Don’t use household fans to dry the structure and spread contaminants
  • Don’t use household products for personal hygiene and cleanliness if exposed to the contaminated area 

Carpet Care Tips

By David Penzo 

There is a benefit to having your carpets cleaned on a regular basis.  Tenant turn-over is a great time to have carpets cleaned, but there are advantages to having carpets cleaned on a more regular basis – here are some facts you may not know about carpet cleaning: 

  • The carpets in your house or your rental are the building’s largest air filter.  Cleaning them regularly can help improve air quality 
  • Cleaning your carpet regularly is cheaper than replacing it. 
  • Vacuuming only removes about 80% of the dirt in your carpet.  The remaining 20% of sand, dirt, pollen and dust gets trapped in your carpet.   When this sand, dirt, pollen and dust mixes with “greasy” indoor air, the result is to create a glue-like mixture that acts like sandpaper on your carpet, wearing and cutting at the threads of your carpet.  That is why there are noticeable “track marks” where foot traffic is the heaviest. 
  • While vacuuming is import to minimize the dirt, a routine carpet clean (recommended every six to 12 months) will cut the grease and lengthen the life of your carpet. 
  • Cleaner carpets mean a longer carpet life, better indoor air quality for your tenants and potentially less money spent on carpet replacement. 

Note:  You may also be able to add in regular carpet cleaning as something that the tenant is responsible for.  Your lease could provide that a tenant must have the carpets professionally cleaned once a year and upon move-out.  Of course, this can always be a service you provide your tenants as encouragement to stay longer. 

Brian Lalime is with G.W. Savage Corp. David Penzo is with Blue Star Carpet Care and Cleaning.   Reprinted with permission of the Vermont Apartment Owners Association, LLC.