Flood Damage versus Water Damage: Water Damage Assessment – Part II


Expertise Includes:

    • Building Foundation Issues
    • Civil/Site Work Evaluation
    • Concrete Systems - Cracks/Settlements/Failures
    • Construction Defects/Claims
    • Storm Water Control
    • Structural Design - Collapse/Failure Analysis

In the continuation of the series on “Flood Damage versus Water Damage”, we will now focus on cause and effects of water damage to residential and building structures and components.  As discussed before, our goal in this blog series is to accurately and consistently inform the adjuster on what determines flood damage and water damage to homes, buildings and their components.  According to the Insurance Information Network of California (IINC) that will depend on a couple of things: 1) What type of insurance did the owner chose to purchase and 2) How did the water enter the residence or building?

It’s common knowledge that there are two kinds of insurance policies that deal with an owner’s damage due to unexpected water intrusion. One type of insurance coverage as explained in the previous blog is referred to as a flood (FEMA) insurance policy.  The other is a homeowner’s or property owner’s insurance policy.  This type of standard insurance policy doesn’t provide coverage from a flood event, but it does provide coverage for many other types of water damage to your home or business.

Plumbing/Piping Leaks

Again, for insurance purposes, when water enters your home before the water comes in contact with the ground around your home; this would be considered as water damage and not necessarily flood damage to your residence or building.

Here are a few examples of water damage:

  • A hailstorm breaking windows, allowing hail and rain to enter your home.
  • A heavy rain penetrating through the roof, allowing water to enter your attic, ceilings, walls and floors.
  • A broken or frozen water supply line, household appliance connection spewing water or from overflowing household facilities such as toilets, lavatories, bathtubs and plumbing fixtures inside your home.
  • Moisture present causing a fungal growth including mold and mildew from exterior or interior water intrusion.
  • Wind driven water and/or excessive weight of rain, snow, sleet and ice collapsing a roof area entering the home or business.
  • Cracks in concrete or block wall foundations.
  • Heating and air conditioning duct systems that are imbalanced drawing outside humidity through walls and produce water in the walls.

As a professional engineer, I would look for specific signs attributed to the causes of water damage and determine the extent if any of water damage present.  The direct cause of water damage consist mainly from weather related events, plumbing/piping systems, HVAC equipment issues, malfunctioning household appliances/fixtures, and unconditioned/conditioned spaces in attic, basement and crawlspaces.

A view of a roof that caved in due to improper drainage off a “flat roof.”

An investigation would involve a thorough inspection of these residential or building areas, checking for excessive moisture on framing members or leaking concrete/block walls, water staining on horizontal or vertical surfaces and/or monitoring moisture percentage on the outside and inside of the residence.  Again, timing and understanding the sequence of events is critical in determining and making professional judgment to whether water is from a one-time event or from long term exposure resulting in damage.

It’s important to remember that these flood and owner insurance policies do not duplicate coverage for water damage but instead they complement each other. It is up to the individual homeowner or property owner with the help of an insurance agent or insurance company to decide which insurance coverage best suits the need to protect the structure, contents and occupants.

Related Posts:
Flood Damage versus Water Damage:  Flood Damage Assessment – Part I

Allan Abbata is a senior consulting engineer at Warren and a licensed professional engineer in South Carolina, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Missouri, Texas, Alabama, Maryland, Minnesota and Virginia. Allan holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He has more than 40 years of applied engineering expertise to include in-depth knowledge of building codes, rules and regulations that guide design. Allan has also prepared construction drawings and specifications, provided on-site supervision and inspection of construction projects, and. has overseen project management and responsibility for overall performance of building contracts while also serving as the client’s liaison with local, state and federal agencies and municipalities.

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