Floods and water damage can be stressful and costly for landlords. Flood insurance is usually only available via the National Flood Insurance Program, and there are a number of exclusions to this coverage. Water damaged caused by leaks is usually covered by your landlord insurance policy. It is a good idea to review your policy with your insurance broker on a regular basis.
Water Leak Detection Systems Can Help
There’s not much technology can do to prevent a flood, as we all know, the weather man isn’t always right. But if water damage is due to roof leaks, burst pipes, ice damming or appliance malfunctions, there’s a lot that technology can do.
Smart home technology has come a long way in the past few years – to the point where it’s actually quite affordable for property owners to install effective low-voltage devices that can alert you to potential water leaks. Some devices automatically shut off the water to prevent further damage, and others allow you to control the shutoff valve remotely.
The latest devices actually connect to a cloud-based computer system that will send a text or alarm to your mobile phone or your email address. Some devices will also monitor your usage to detect and alert you of slow leaks that may, in time, cause serious damage.
Through sensitive use monitoring, these devices can also detect leaks such as a toilet with a leaky flapper valve, which can waste up to 50 gallons of water every day. Some equipment can measure humidity levels and send out alerts.
Predictably, active systems that can remotely or automatically turn off the water supply usually cost more than passive systems, which simply detect leaks and alert you that there is a problem.
The High Cost of Water Damage
Failing to quickly detect water leaks can become expensive for rental property owners. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average home insurance claim for water damage (including damage due to freezing) between 2009 and 2013 was $7,479, not including claims from renters and condominium owners.
Water damage was also the second most common damage claim, affecting nearly two percent of all in-force homeowner policies. In 2013, water damage and freezing accounted for 26.4 percent of all claims dollars the insurance industry paid out. Keep in mind, it’s unknown how many landlords may have been uninsured, or underinsured to the point where the amount of money actually paid out was less than the damage incurred.
Whole Home vs. Point of Installation
Whole home systems are exactly like they sound, these devices will shut down the water to the entire house and alert you to the problem.
Point of installation systems are popular with clothes and dishwashers, they simply turn off that one area and leave the rest of the home operational.
Some manufacturers you may look into include: Water Hero, Wally, FloLogic, FloodStopper, QMI, DynaQuip Controls (WaterCop), and ZIRCON.
Owners and managers of multifamily buildings may be interested in manufacturers like: Aqua-Stop, by Give Systems.
As with many manufacturers, you may not be able to purchase the systems directly from them. They may refer you to a local installer or vendor.
Also talk to your plumber, he or she can give you information and feed back on products they may have used or installed.
Remember, as always, do your research and find a system or systems that will fit your application and property needs.