Tips on preventing water damage to your home

With the onset of winter weather in British Columbia, a spike in water damage and sewer back up insurance claims is invariably expected.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, “Damage from water damage and sewer back-ups is costly for homeowners, municipalities and insurance companies. In an average year, the Canadian insurance industry pays $1.32 billion in claims due to water damage.”

When purchasing house insurance, it’s important to have sewer back up and water damage coverage included in your policy.  This coverage is usually included in a house insurance policy – check with your insurance broker that it is.

Besides protecting yourself with a good home insurance policy, you can also take steps to prevent damage from occurring to your home.  Below are just some of the proactive measures to stop water damage before it happens, during the winter and throughout the rest of the year.

Outside your house:

  • Replace missing or damaged shingles on your roof. Remove leaves, twigs, and other litter from your roof to allow for proper drainage. Think about installing gutter shields if your gutters often fill with debris.
  • Get trees trimmed and dead branches removed. Ice, snow and wind can cause weak trees or branches to break, causing damage to your home or cars, as well as injury to people.
  • Keep steps and handrails in good condition and free of ice and snow. This may prevent someone from falling and getting injured.

Inside your house:

  • Ensure that everyone living in your house knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it. The quicker you can shut off the water, the better chance you have to prevent water damage.
  • Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Snow or ice that melts then refreezes can cause a build up on your roof. This can result in a collapsed roof. Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will also help protect pipes from freezing. Consider insulating unfinished rooms such as garages to keep pipes from freezing.
  • Check pipes. Look for cracks and leaks and have pipes repaired immediately.
  • Check your attic around flues, plumbing vents, and chimneys for roof leaks.  Especially important if you’ve noticed water stains on the ceiling.
  • Dishwasher: Check for leaks under the sink where the hose connects to the water supply. Look for discoloured, warped, or damaged/soft flooring materials. Water damage to nearby cabinets may also be a clue that there may be a leak.
  • Refrigerator:  If your refrigerator has an icemaker, make sure the hose connection is securely attached to the water supply line. Wet spots on the floor may indicate that a hose is about to rupture.
  • Sinks: Check under sinks for leaks from water supply lines or drainpipes.  Is your sink draining slowly?  It may be a sign of a partially blocked drain that needs clearing.
  • Showers and bathtubs: Remove and replace deteriorated or cracked caulk and grout. Stains around nearby walls and floors can be telltale signs of water leaks.
  • Washing machine:  Check hoses for bulging, cracking, fraying, and leaks around hose ends. Replace the hose if a problem is found.
  • Water heater: Wet spots on the floor or a rusted tank may signal a leak.  Have this checked by a professional.
  • Move valuable items located in your basement to higher levels – if there is seepage or a flood, these items will less likely to be damaged.


Going away on holiday?  If you plan to be away for more than a few days, arrange for someone to check that everything is in good condition.  Activity at your home will also reduce the risk of burglary to your home.



Do you have any home insurance questions?  Would you like an insurance quote for your house?

Contact Habitat Insurance Agencies Ltd at 604-438-5241 or [email protected]

Copyright © Habitat Insurance Agencies Ltd.   All rights reserved.

Disclaimer:  This article is designed to provide information for personal use only.  Please consult your professional insurance broker for further information. Habitat Insurance Agencies Ltd is not responsible for any legal disputes of this matter.