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Tips for Preventing Water Damage

water damage

Water causes damage to equipment and contributes to slip and fall accidents. Most water damage losses involving equipment are due to unexpected and unplanned events. Early notification of water intrusion can reduce the surprise and severity of the damage. There are a variety of water intrusion alert systems on the market that can help.

To prevent water damage:

  • Inspect foundations and exterior walls. Look for cracks in walls and gaps in expansion joints. Have a professional building contractor inspect significant findings.
  • Check interior walls and ceilings for water stains. Stains may be the sign of a much greater problem.
  • Inspect flashing and sealants around windows, roofs and doors. If they are brittle or have noticeable gaps, reseal or apply new caulk.
  • Check roof drainage systems and ventilations systems. Ensure they are free of debris, and that water drains away from buildings. Roofs in poor condition may need to be replaced. Make sure ventilation systems have appropriate hoods and are in good condition. Check air conditioning systems for excessive condensation or leaks in water lines. A professional contractor can inspect these areas properly.
  • Property grading (slope) and gutters should direct water away from the building.
  • Install sewer backflow valves. Backflow valves are designed to block drain pipes temporarily and prevent return flow.
  • Keep computer equipment above ground or floor level. Dust covers can provide protection should a roof leak or pipe burst. Always cover equipment before you leave.

Slips and falls due to water are frequent claims seen at insurance companies. To help mitigate these incidents, it’s important to keep your inspection process consistent and well-documented. Maintain this information with your other business records.

Frequent inspections of floors — particularly entryway, bathroom, locker-room and around water fountains — are important to the success of a good plan. If you notice water or debris, clean it up immediately.

Place skid-resistant, absorbent mats at all entrances. Inspect the mats frequently so they don’t become tripping hazards. If the floor is wet, post a highly visible warning sign to advise clientele of a potential hazard.

Staff should know how to turn the water off if faced with an emergency. Commercial urinals and toilets may require additional steps to shut off the water at the source. Does your emergency action plan include how to shut off water? If not, invite a plumber to your location to show staff what to do.


Michael Swain is a senior loss control specialist at Markel Specialty. For more information call (804) 527-7544 or email Michael at MSwain@markelcorp.com. For additional tips, visit Markel’s Risk Management Library.

*The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.

Michael Swain

Michael Swain is a senior loss control specialist at Markel Specialty.

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