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Water damage: causes, immediate measures, liability and elimination

Water damage on wooden floor

In private households, water damage usually occurs as a result of damage to water pipes, such as a burst water main. However, water damage also occurs in natural disasters such as tsunamis or – more likely in Germany – floods. The last possible cause of water damage is the use of fire extinguishing water during fires. Either way, it is usually the worst experience for residents and homeowners alike.

All causes have one thing in common: water damage occurs that severely damages furniture, doors, floor coverings and wallpaper. In the longer term, mould often develops in brickwork and ceilings. Boxie24 has listed for you the most important immediate measures, liability issues and tips for eliminating water damage so that your belongings can be safely moved to temporary storage, your flat becomes habitable again and as few of your belongings are damaged as possible.

First measures after water damage

How do I protect myself in case of water damage?

Outsourcing in case of water damage

Liability for water damage

Elimination of water damage

After water damage: tips and advice on drying

First measures after water damage

  1. In case of pipe water damage: block main water taps!
  2. Disconnect all electrical lines that are already affected or within range of moisture intrusion: fuses!
  3. Take photos to document the damage.
  4. Pump / extract or absorb water.
  5. Put up furniture or separate it from the damp floor with plastic bags, unless otherwise possible. By renting storage space, you can clear the room completely.
  6. Valuable and sensitive items such as pictures, expensive books, musical instruments or other valuables should be outsourced immediately. If you do not have free capacity, this is the best option: storage space rental. If a particularly valuable and irreplaceable item has already become damp or wet, put it in a plastic bag and freeze it. This stops the destruction process and specialised companies can save your item with special thawing processes….
  7. Pick up damp carpets and if possible do not roll them up store and let them dry.
  8. Reduce humidity by ventilating: Open the window! If the damage is greater or if ventilation is not really adequate: install a dehumidifier!
  9. If the damage is greater, contact a specialist company as soon as possible.
  10. Contact your property manager and, if you are renting, contact your landlord.
  11. Assign a system engineer to determine the cause of the water damage.

How do I protect myself in case of water damage?

In some cases, water damage is caused by a faulty sewer pipe. Here, you may be endangered by germs and bacteria. Therefore, suitable protective clothing such as:

  • Rain boots
  • Disposable gloves
  • Disposable protective suit

Water damage outsourcing

To dry your furniture and other items and remove them from the flat to be renovated, you need to rent a storage unit. This is how you create enough space, to dry and renovate your home. Boxie24 also offers a pick-up service for your furniture and belongings. With a storage unit from Boxie24, you have the advantage of getting the most stress-free storage. Water damage stresses your nerves enough, which is why we take as much work out of your hands as possible. If you’re not sure how much storage space you really need, that’s not a problem at all: we have provided a storage space calculator that you can use to calculate your storage space. In the end, however, at Boxie24 you only pay for the storage space you actually need.

Liability for water damage

Water damage is not only annoying and a lot of work, it also costs money. Who should actually pay for the damage? As so often, that depends on the individual case. Three questions are crucial: which insurance company pays what. What is the cause of the water damage? Where did the damage occur? Was it negligent?

For example, if your washing machine leaks, household insurance will cover the damage to your home – if you have taken out one. If you don’t have this, you are usually left with the cost. If water seeps into the flat below you, your private liability insurance may cover the damage.

Buildings insurance is liable for any damage caused by permanently installed parts (water pipes) on the building itself. If the water enters through the outside, it does not stick. You will find covered damages in the small print of your insurance policy. Individual risks – e.g. Storm and Flood insurance – can also be insured separately.

Part of the building insurance is usually included in the operating costs of a flat. Therefore, the landlord is obliged to hold the building insurer and not you as a tenant liable if the water damage was only caused by slight negligence. This has already been decided by the Federal Court of Justice. However, if the landlord can prove that you as a tenant acted with gross negligence, you should obviously be liable. According to a ruling by the Oldenburg Higher Regional Court, this was the case with a resident who had opened the tap of his washing machine without an Aquastop device without ever checking the badly attached hose.

If you as the tenant are not responsible for the damage, you can reduce the rent. For this, the damage and depreciation of the flat should be assessed by an expert. Should your flat be uninhabitable for a long time after the water damage, you can pass this on without prior notice – provided you are not responsible for this yourself.

Elimination of water damage

At first glance, the cause is often less obvious than in the case of a faulty washing machine. It is necessary to determine where the water is coming from and to what extent the damage has already occurred. Leak location and moisture measurement should be carried out by a specialised company. There are different drying methods used, depending on the material. Wallpaper and floor coverings often need to be removed, new tiles laid and painting work carried out.

After water damage: tips and advice on drying

Under no circumstances be careless with water damage. All affected items should be dried outside the house or flat. Self-storage at Boxie24 is suitable for this purpose.

To avoid mould on walls and floors, they should be dried professionally. A floating screed can be especially problematic here, as moisture may have penetrated under the screed and soaked the insulation layers. This damage is not immediately obvious! Therefore, if in doubt, have a specialised company inspect the walls and ceilings.

Moisture in a wall can also go unnoticed and look perfectly normal at first glance. That is why it is always wise to call in a specialist or expert in case of water damage. He can carry out a professional moisture measurement of the affected areas and components. Consequential damage – especially mould – caused by overlooked moisture can thus be prevented.

Mould in walls, ceilings and generally in living spaces is toxic and extremely dangerous. Mould leads to respiratory diseases, allergic reactions, asthma, bronchitis and other illnesses.

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