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What can I do about water drainage damage on my property?

What is drain damage?

Drain damage is a clog in the drain line that is preventing water from flowing as it should. It occurs when hair, food particles, and other small materials go down the drain with soapy water, clog the drain line, and start to accumulate in the drain line or at the trap. The result is a slowly draining sink or shower which is inconvenient, but not usually an emergency.

It's most common in bathroom sinks and showers, where long hair accumulates on drain lines and causes blockage problems. This accumulation can quickly become severe if shampoo and soap oils accumulate on the drain line and start to solidify.

What causes drain damage?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to collapsed drains, but the most common is frequent blockages, which cause water to be continually lost into the ground. This flooding results in pressure on the drainage system and, thereby, a collapsed drain.

How do I prevent it?

Clear your hair from your shower or bathtub drain after each use. Clean the hair every so often by brushing and scraping it with a blunt utensil such as a spoon. This will prevent hair from going down the drain in the first place.

Is it a serious problem?

In most cases, the hair and material buildup in the drain line will not cause a major water damage problem in your home. However, there is a chance that if not cleared in time it could create back pressure on the waist line which could result in water backing up into your tub or shower stall. If that happens, you can expect water damage to floor and wall materials in the bathroom.

Who is responsible for drainage on my property?

The drainage on your property is your responsibility. You are responsible for ensuring that the drainage on your property works properly and does not cause any damage to your property or your neighbor's property.

What should I do if my drain is already clogged?

If your sink or shower starts draining slowly or does not drain at all, then it's time to try a simple plunger. If this doesn't work, you may need to use chemicals to break up the clog.

The first step is to try a plunger. Simply remove the drain stopper, fill the sink or tub with water, place the plunger over the drain opening, and push down several times to create suction within the line. This action will attempt to dislodge any hair that has accumulated in the drain line, and will allow water to flow through in the correct direction once again.

If that doesn't work, you'll need a chemical solution which is much stronger than a plunger can provide. To use an enzymatic drain opener, follow the instructions on the label of the product. Typically, it involves pouring some of this chemical into the drain opening and allowing it to sit for several minutes. This will start to break down the materials clogging the drain line.

After this time has elapsed, pour one gallon of hot water into the drain line. The combination of the chemicals and the hot water should clear out any hair or material that has accumulated in your drain line. If you have a shower drain, you may want to consider running the shower at this point in time so that any chemical residue is washed down the drain.

For many people, a plunger, and a drain opener will be enough to clear a slow-draining sink or tub. However, if that doesn't work, then you will need to contact your local plumber for further assistance.

What do I do if this process does not work?

If the plunger or drain opener doesn't clear the clog, then you will need to contact a plumber for assistance. There are many different reasons why your drain may have stopped up, but regardless of the reason, it is important that an expert handle this problem so that it doesn't escalate into a water damage incident for your home.

Here are some examples of what problems can occur if not cleared by a professional:

If you live in an area that is prone to freezing temperatures, then the drain line may be frozen and preventing draining at this time of year and will need to be thawed out.

If there was an inflow of water to the drain, such as from a burst pipe, then this could cause backup and eventually lead to flooring and wall materials in your bathroom being damaged.

If you have soap scum or lather that has built up on the inside walls of your shower or tub, then it too can contribute to clogging problems and should be checked and removed if necessary.

If you take a shower, then you may experience clogs develop because of mineral depositions which form over time. This is especially true in areas where the water has high iron content, such as rust.

There are many reasons why your drain might be stopped up, but regardless of the reason, it's important that an expert handle this problem so that it doesn't escalate into a water damage incident for your home.

What causes drain clogs?

There are many reasons why your drain might be stopped up, but regardless of the reason, you will need to contact a professional plumber if the plunger and chemical solutions don't clear out the clog. Here are some of the most common causes of drain clogs:

Hair accumulations. Hair is one of the biggest culprits for shower and sink drains, so be sure to check this area first before determining that your drain is clogged.

Foreign objects. Items such as toys, jewelry, coins, or other metal items can fall down a drain and clog the drain line.

Soap scum and lather. If you have a problem with soap build up in your shower, then this can contribute to drain clogs over time as well, since it's essentially just like hair accumulating within a drain line.

Water Damage Coverage. If water backs up through my sewer or drain, am I covered?

Most homeowners policies will cover water damage claims that results from a backed-up sewer or drain. This type of coverage is typically included in the standard policy, and there is usually no need to purchase an add-on endorsement.

Be sure to review your policy to confirm that you are covered for water damage from a backed-up sewer or drain. If you are not sure, contact your insurance agent for more information.

Why do Homeowners and other property forms exclude coverage for sewer or drain water backup?

1. Water backup losses are extremely common but preventable with maintenance and preventative measures by the homeowner. Water losses from plugged up toilets and clogged up drains can be prevented or minimized when homeowners are observant and promptly repair sticking toilet bowls and clogged, slow running drains.

2. Water systems require periodic maintenance or reinvestment by the homeowner. Over time, every water drainage system becomes restricted with rust, deposits and accumulated debris. Drain fields become saturated, and tree roots interfere with drainage. Without preventative maintenance, slow running drains won’t handle normal water flow or plug up completely.

3. Off premises sewage backups can be prevented with the installation of drain backflow preventers that are installed on your drain line. Unfortunately, many older homes did not have these preventers installed.

4. During flooding the water table rises and first causes water backup through sewers and drains. Since “flood” is an excluded coverage, the unendorsed Homeowner’s policy has this exclusion.

Do you require a public adjuster when drain damage occurs?

When a home experiences drain damage, it is important to know what steps to take to ensure that the damage is repaired as quickly as possible. One of the first things you should do is assess the damage and determine how much it will cost to repair.

If the damage is significant, you may want to hire a public adjuster to help you file a claim with your insurance company. A public adjuster in Miami, Florida will help you gather all the information that your insurance company may require to process your claim.

Generally, homeowners insurance policies do not cover sewer backups. Because there are so many ways for a sewer backup to occur, insurance companies have tailored specific endorsements or riders that can be added to your policy in order to protect you from the financial repercussions of having this type of damage done to your home.

If your sewer backs up, call us immediately for advice on the best course of action. We offer free consultations and would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding sewers or insurance claims related to sewers.

People's Insurance Claim Center, Miami Public Adjusters, with over 20 years of experience, we represent the insured, not the insurance company.

We specialize in homeowners and business property insurance claims, such as homeowners insurance (including fire damage), flood insurance (including earthquake and water backup), condominium association insurance and commercial property insurance.

The most important thing to remember in the event of drain damage is to stay calm. Call People's Insurance Claim Center, Public Adjusters in Miami, to help you navigate the claim process quickly.

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