How to handle wintertime water damage

There's always a chance that you'll experience a frozen or burst pipe during the frigid winter months, especially if you haven't taken the appropriate preventative measure. If you come home one day to find a pipe is leaking, the first thing you should do is call a plumber to handle the problem. Once there's a professional on the way, take these critical steps to minimize the water damage from your leaking pipe.

Shut off the water supply
The first thing you should do when you have a burst pipe is to turn off your home's water supply. This will stop the leak until the plumber arrives and prevent more water damage. Lowe's explained that in most homes, the water line enters the house through the floor of the foundation. You should look for a meter where the pipe enters your home and use the attached value to stop the water. If you have an older home, be aware that the valve handle may break if it's corroded. In this situation, use a pair of lock-grip pliers to maneuver the handle into the off position.

Move your valuables
Once you've stopped the leaking water, the next step is to clear out the affected area. The Concrobium blog explained that you should turn off the electricity in the flooded area first, then move any electrical items. You can also remove furniture and carpets from the area. Work as quickly as you can to minimize damage to your valuables. Once you've cleared out everything you can, the Insurance Institute for Business and Homes Safety recommended that you take inventory of the damaged items and call your insurance company to place a claim.

Dry it out
Many times your insurance company will pay for a professional restoration technician to handle cleanup of water damage. However, it's always helpful to make sure that the flooded area remains clean and dry. Use fans or a dehumidifier in the area to remove any lingering moisture. Concrobium also recommended that you disinfect the walls and other structural items to remove any bacteria.

Prevent mold growth
Even after the area is repaired, there is still a chance that mold will grow. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that spores often grow on ceiling tiles, wood beams, insulation, drywall or carpet. You can prevent mold growth by controlling humidity levels in the area where your pipe burst and thoroughly cleaning any affected items. Proper ventilation is also essential when it comes to preventing mold growth.

These steps are the responsible thing to do when there's water damage in your home. Another essential step in home care is to invest in a TotalProtect® Home Warranty. While your homeowners' insurance will probably cover water damage, it won't pay for the repairs of appliances or systems. That's why a home warranty is a smart way to protect your most valuable asset and your wallet.

The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.