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What to Do When Water Leaks in Your Home

Fast action can minimize damage and inconvenience.

overflowing sink

Water leaks are a homeowner's worst nightmare. They not only damage or destroy your belongings, if left unchecked they can damage the structure of your home as well.

Water leaks can come from many sources - a burst pipe, overflowing sink, dripping dishwasher or other plumbing fixture. What you do next is important and can save you time and money, minimize damage and get your home back in order as fast as possible.

If you have a water leak, here are some steps you can take to minimize the damage to your home and belongings.

  • Shut off water to the appliance that's leaking. If that isn't possible, shut off your home's main water supply. If you don't know where the shut-off valves are, now is a great time to locate them.

  • If water is near electrical outlets, turn off the electricity at your fuse/breaker box and call an electrician.*

  • Call a plumber and water removal expert. Many are available 24/7 for emergency clean-up and repair.

  • If you don't need to turn off electricity, turn on fans and a dehumidifier to start drying out wet areas.

  • If water is leaking from a ceiling, place a bucket under the leak. (If the ceiling is "bowed," there may be a significant amount of water in it. Use caution to prevent a ceiling collapse.)

  • Use towels or mops to soak up as much water as possible, to prevent further damage.

  • Use a wet/dry shop vacuum to pull water out of your carpet. Be certain the power cord isn't near any water.*

  • Move belongings to a dry area.

  • Put blocks under furniture to raise it up off a wet floor.

  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report a claim.

Taking these steps can mean the difference between a major loss and a small inconvenience.

If you aren't sure if water leaks are covered by your homeowners, condo or renters insurance, contact an American Family insurance agent near you.

* Water leaks can be dangerous. Use extreme caution when using any electrical device to remove water or clean up after a water leak. These recommendations were developed using generally accepted safety standards. If you are unsure or uncomfortable doing of any of these steps, leave clean-up to a licensed professional.

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