Step 1: Stop the Water
The fastest way to address the problem is to turn off the main water line to the house.
Why? There are multiple sources of potential problems when dealing with a bathroom flood. It could be an issue with the sink, toilet or shower. There could be a plumbing issue in any of the lines in the bathroom and many of the pipes are difficult to access.
Step 2: Identify the Source
Next, you need to call the professionals. Start with a plumber and escalate to a leak detection company if needed.
A plumber will inspect all the plumbing and make necessary repairs. It could be as simple as a cracked or burst pipe, or it could be something more complicated like a sewer line or sump pump.
If the plumber cannot identify the source of the leak, a leak detection company may be required. Leak detection companies use equipment to detect sources of water behind walls and under floors. A common bathroom leak occurs from a cracked shower pan in a walk-in shower as well as cracked and disintegrating caulk or tile grout around the shower or bathtub. These issues are not related to plumbing and would not be under the prevue of a plumber.
Whatever the source of the leak, you will need to make repairs in order to prevent future problems. This is also important for any insurance claims related to the damages. In addition to taking these steps, document the condition of your bathroom and any other area affected by the flooded bathroom. Keep any repair receipts and inventory any damaged personal property.
Step 3: Dry It Out
In addition to identifying and stopping the source of the leak, you will need to clean up all the water left behind. It is important to leave this job to professionals since a flood from a toilet can be contaminated water with the potential to cause health problems if handled. A water mitigation company will bring the equipment necessary to remove standing water as well as dry out building materials. These companies usually also have specialized equipment to identify water damaged areas behind cabinets and under walls. If building materials cannot be dried out, they will be removed. If the source of the water was from the toilet, the water mitigation company will take additional steps to decontaminate the area including the use of industrial-strength cleaners.
Is this mess covered by Insurance?
You have been paying your homeowner insurance premiums on time for years. You have weathered price increases and maybe have never filed a claim. Certainly, this catastrophe should be paid for by the insurance company, right? Well, the answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. It depends on the source of the leak.
Leaks that are likely to be covered
A plumbing leak that was not predictable will likely be covered. However, that means the insurance company will probably pay for the clean up of the water and repair to damaged areas. It may not pay for the cost to repair the plumbing. Some insurance policies add language that requires the leak to have been unknown and hidden for it to be covered, so be sure to check your policy. You can see how complicated it can get.
Leaks that are unlikely to be covered
The bad news is that generally, insurance companies will not cover damages resulting from a cracked shower pan, cracked or missing caulk or tile grout. Therefore, it would be important to maintain those items on a yearly basis. The insurance company classifies those causes as negligence.
If you are unsure, you can always contact your insurance agent and he or she can help review your policy.
Don’t let a flooded bathroom get you down. Follow these tips to help get your bathroom back to the oasis it should be.