If your water bill is unusually high, that might be an indication of an undetected leak. Buying a water leak sensor that sends alerts to your phone is one way to safeguard your home. You should also check around your toilets, tubs, showers and sinks for any soft spots or moisture. Keep an eye out for loose tiles as well. If you have a dishwasher or a refrigerator with a water line, look for warped or discolored floorboards.
And even if you do have flood insurance, you should make sure what is covered. "Many people don't realize their homeowner insurance doesn't cover rising water," says Kent. In other words, "some flood insurance will cover rain water if it comes through your roof, but most of the time, it won't cover water rising in your home, like what's happening in Texas, unless you ask for it specifically."
Since you should notify your insurer soon as possible after the flood, it’s a good idea to keep your insurance company and local agent’s phone number in your always-ready emergency bag. (Note that the NFIP works through private insurance companies, so you contact your insurer just as you would for any other type of claim). In cases where a flood has affected a region or community, your agent may be busy handling his or her own flood issues. In that case, contact the insurance company’s headquarters.
Locate and repair the source of the leak. The source of the problem is usually apparent once you remove the drywall and expose the framing. If the leak source is not easily determined, consult a licensed contractor before you replace the drywall. You must repair the cause of the leak or mold and mildew will eventually reform over the new drywall. An unresolved leak may also create additional damage to framing, insulation, siding and flooring.
You may also wish to hire a flood restoration service—you can find pros under “Flood” or “Disaster recovery” in your local phone book, or check with the Better Business Bureau, local Chamber of Commerce, or contractor recommendation sites, such as Angieslist.com or MerchantCircle.com. Look for those with Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification.
You have to open up the wall to get at the mold growing inside. Since you have to repair the wall anyway, don’t hesitate to cut the drywall back beyond the obvious damage to find all the mold and let the wall dry out. To avoid cutting electrical wires, poke a hole through the damaged section and locate the wires first. Turn off the power to the outlets before you cut. Mist the moldy drywall and insulation with the pump sprayer to avoid spreading mold spores. Double-bag moldy material in heavy-duty plastic bags and tie them shut.
Water damage can originate by different sources such as a broken dishwasher hose, a washing machine overflow, a dishwasher leakage, broken/leaking pipes, flood waters and clogged toilets. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 13.7% of all water used in the home today can be attributed to plumbing leaks. On average that is approximately 10,000 gallons of water per year wasted by leaks for each US home. A tiny, 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can release up to 250 gallons of water a day. According to Claims Magazine in August 2000, broken water pipes ranked second to hurricanes in terms of both the number of homes damaged and the amount of claims (on average $50,000 per insurance claim) costs in the US. Experts suggest that homeowners inspect and replace worn pipe fittings and hose connections to all household appliances that use water at least once a year. This includes washing machines, dishwashers, kitchen sinks and bathroom lavatories, refrigerator icemakers, water softeners and humidifiers. A few US companies offer whole-house leak protection systems utilizing flow-based technologies. A number of insurance companies offer policy holders reduced rates for installing a whole-house leak protection system.