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April Showers, Spring Flowers, and Water Damage


April Showers, Spring Flowers, and Water Damage

Zach Folmer

Zach Folmer

Associate partner at ChurchWest.

Churches, rain and leaksWell, April isn’t exactly around the corner, but if these past few weeks of weather are any indication of what’s in store for us this Spring, it might be time to start preparing your Church to deal with two major risks associated with water: water damage from rain and old plumbing systems. The threat of damage from them is always lurking, and that means you’ve got to constantly be working toward mitigating some of the risk.

If you’re a resident of California, you probably know that the state has mostly been in a drought cycle for quite some time. If you’re like me, that means you may have put off dealing with those cracked roof tiles or wonky rain gutters, which is probably not great. That’s because this year, we could be in for a lot of wet weather and lots of trouble.

So, why should your church worry? For one thing, your church should be concerned because we haven’t had very much rain over the last decade or so. That means we Californians probably haven’t been that great about focusing on rain mitigation, which for your church buildings can be really bad.
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Storms, Water Damage and Maintenance

Why does any of that matter? Well, avoiding these maintenance issues could put your properties at risk for some pretty severe water damage.

Did you know that many insurance policies may not cover water damage from a storm if you haven’t kept up continuous inspections and maintenance? Maybe you had a minor leak that just produced a few drips last year. The church put off the repairs, because honestly, how much does it rain around here anyway? Guess what? A major storm could dump inches of rain in just a short time – and that could turn that drippy leak into a waterfall. Now, because that leak wasn’t dealt with as a part of routine maintenance, your insurance company may not cover any resulting damages. Pretty scary stuff.

If your ministry owns its buildings, failing to perform regular upkeep on your rain mitigation systems could be an expensive mistake.  Not only will rain and flooding be a problem for your unprepared building, but it could also a problem for you and your neighbors.

There are a few factors that come into play with a building that’s getting a lot of rain and isn’t properly maintained. One is the rain gutter system, which I mentioned above. If your gutter system is in disrepair, it could allow water to travel toward your building, instead of away from it. Now your building is facing the possibility of walls, hallways, and basements filling up with rainwater. This is bad because it is not only damaging to the church’s structure, but the water can be polluted with ground contaminants or building material contaminants as it passes through the path of least resistance. For a building that’s terrible. For the people exposed to the dirty water, it could be extremely hazardous. It’s just not safe. But you can prevent it.

Pay special attention to the grounds around your church. The areas around your actual buildings need to be properly graded to avoid water intruding into your buildings. You want to make sure you’ve worked with an engineering firm to ensure that water collects and flows away from your buildings toward a proper drainage outlet, rather than inward toward the building, or off toward a neighboring property. This will help prevent flooding problems.

Avoid issues with erosion that could destabilize the soils on your property and any structures or parking lots built on them. Also, remember how I mentioned problems from your neighbors, above? If your property’s grading leads to flooding on their property, there could be damage and you could be sued. No ministry, regardless of their relationship with their neighbors, wants to deal with that kind of expensive legal problem.

Dealing with Old Plumbing

There’s another water damage risk your church needs to be thinking about aside from rain. It’s one that nobody wants to think about. When was the last time you had the plumbing, including all pipes, inspected? If your building is very old, when was the last time you had your water heaters, plumbing system and pipes replaced?

One of our most common claims is burst pipes. A burst pipe could be caused by several factors, such as water pressure or freezing temperatures in our mountain communities and in Northern California.

To help prevent water damage from burst pipes, allow your faucets to slightly drip during freezing conditions, keep the building heat at 65 degrees, insulate any pipes that are in crawl spaces or accessible exterior walls, and disconnect your outdoor hoses and cover exterior faucets.

When it comes to weather and pipes – out of site is out of mind. It’s easy to forget about or ignore these issues until it’s too late. A huge break in your system would be a big headache, making your ministry less effective. In fact, an ounce of prevention goes a long way. A well-maintained campus will keep your ministry focused on doing what it does best: furthering the Kingdom.

Has your ministry had to deal with severe water damage from plumbing or weather? How did it turn out? Let us know all about it in the comments section, below.

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