Special guest blog by Yolande Charest, VP, Finance at Staebler Insurance
It was early spring of 2020 when my sump pump started making a very loud noise and I could smell burning oil. At first I thought it was because the sump pump had been working overtime draining the snow that was melting around the house. I immediately called a plumbing service to come out and take a look at the problem. They determined that the floatation ball on the sump pump was not working properly and causing the motor to run nonstop. They replaced the flotation ball and everything seemed to work fine.
Fast forward to June of 2020, we had a weekend of nonstop rainfall and I was away at the trailer. Imagine my surprise when I returned home, entered the storage room to start putting some items away and stepped into two feet of ice-cold water. I immediately checked the sump pump and noticed it was overflowing, and clearly it had not been running for some time. That was the beginning of my first home claims experience.
I immediately contacted my broker at Staebler Insurance who advised that they would contact the Insurance Company and that it would be a good idea if I contacted PuroClean Property Restoration Services to get the ball rolling. In the meantime, my kids and I began using the shop vac to drain as much water as possible and also began moving the boxes out of the storage room into the rec room area hoping to prevent further damage.
Staebler Insurance had always promoted the Red Carpet Claims Service provided by PuroClean, but I didn’t truly understand what that meant until I was experiencing it first hand. The Project Manager arrived quickly with the restoration team in tow and they immediately rolled out the red carpet in order to walk through my house to the basement. It didn’t take long for them to begin setting up the industrial equipment designed to dry out my basement. It appeared that the water had been coming up through the floor from hydrostatic pressure as well as in the corner of the wall from the outside of the house. Dehumidifiers and fans ran 24 hours a day for approximately a week.
The Project Manager immediately went to work locating an emergency plumber who could come out right away and replace the sump pump, since we would need a working sump pump in order to assist with draining the water remaining around the house. The plumber arrived and determined that the motor had stopped working on the sump pump. I was then advised that the lifespan of a sump pump is only 7-10 years. I wish I had been aware of that information when the first plumber came out a few months earlier. I would have replaced the whole pump at that time. As a result, a new sump pump was immediately installed.
I was then contacted by the adjuster at the Insurance Company who confirmed that I had to submit payment of my deductible as well as information on the number of hours spent by myself and my kids cleaning up and moving the wet items as they agreed to compensate us for our work we had done to prevent further damage. We then had to sort through all of the items that were in the storage room to determine what could be salvaged and what was not recoverable. It was such an emotional experience going through the storage items one box at a time. All those special treasures that I assumed would be saved and passed down to my kids: baby items, memorable souvenirs, the kids’ school work, even my own baby items that my mother had passed down to me. In that moment I knew that I had to do whatever was necessary to prevent this situation from happening again.
Since the water had come in not only through the floor but also in the corner of the wall of the storage room, I decided to hire the Crack Specialist (at my own expense) to check the wall and inject any areas that may have allowed the water to seep in through the corner of the storage room. Once that process was completed, they also suggested installing a battery back up for my sump pump in the event of a power outage, which I agreed to have installed right away. The battery back up would ensure that the sump pump would continue to run until the power was restored.
The Crack Specialist also did a ground search outside around the house and suggested that I install longer eaves trough spouts to drain the water further away from my house. I then hired a company to clean out all of my eaves troughs to ensure that there were no blockages preventing proper drainage. Once the storage area was completely dried out, PuroClean returned to apply an anti-mould cleaning solution to ensure that there would be no mould growth.
Everything that was able to be salvaged was repackaged into plastic bins to ensure that water would not penetrate the storage containers and they were placed on 2” by 4” pieces of wood in order to lift them up off of the floor approximately 2 inches. I also purchased a large metal shelving unit to place other items used on a regular basis up off the ground. Lastly I purchased battery operated water detection pucks that you place on the floor and the alarm goes off if they detect water. I placed them in the storage room as well as the area of my sump pump. I ordered them from Amazon and they were very reasonably priced.
Once the Insurance Company completed their assessment of the replacement value of the items that were damaged/lost, I received a cheque for the value. I had done some research on my own with respect to the replacement value of the items and I felt that the Insurance Company was very fair & reasonable in their assessment of the replacement value.
I was also impressed with PuroClean who truly does offer Red Carpet Service. The entire team was very professional, courteous, timely, and accommodating. I would definitely recommend them to anyone going through a similar situation.
What did I learn?
Prevention is key. Each spring, take the time to ensure that you have protected your home from potential water damage:
- Check your sump pump regularly to ensure that it is working properly. If you don’t hear it going on and off there may be an issue, and you also want to ensure that it is maintaining a reasonable level of water in the pit
- Install eaves trough extensions in order to drain the water further from your home
- Clean and check your eaves trough for blockages caused by leaves and debris or little animal nests that may prevent proper drainage
- Store all of your treasures in water proof bins a couple of inches up and off of the floor
- Install water leak detection pucks in areas that water may get in to notify you as soon as there is a trace of water
There may be an expense involved in preventing water damage in your home however, you may lose those items that are priceless.
Important Insurance Tips
- Always take the time to review the details of your homeowner’s insurance policy.
- It is important to know who your broker is and which Insurance Company you are insured through. Ask your broker questions about what is covered and what is not. Many times customers think they have coverage for things that are excluded from their policy.
- Note your deductible as that is the cost that will be coming directly out of your pocket and make sure that it is affordable for you at the time of a claim.
- Document everything with pictures, videos and notes to ensure that you don’t miss anything.
Additional Resources from Ecclesiastical
- Are you flood-smart? (opens as PDF)
- Preventing Backflows and Sewer Backups (opens as PDF)
- Spring and Summer Risk Control (opens as PDF)
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Be Wise. Staebler Insurance is a general insurance broker specializing in auto insurance, home insurance, small business, and commercial insurance. Staebler brokers proudly serve Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Stratford, Listowel, Fergus, Elora, Wellington County, Perth County, Waterloo Region and southern Ontario. Get started with a free quote today.