Economics, being a science about human social processes that focus on the transactional and behavioral exchange of goods and services, is inherently an integral part of human life. Indeed, it is quite impossible to think about human existence without even touching a single basic concept of economics.
In modern day home economics, the efficiency at which homeowners can meet daily demands for equitable living can sometimes be challenged by the occurrence of several home-altering phenomenon. Such phenomenon can be man-made such as freak accidents, violent behavior and vandalism or natural like flooding, domestic fire, and mold and mildew infestation. Whatever is the mechanism of this home-altering phenomenon, one thing is certain – the allocation of additional resources will have to be considered. Such an action will further strain the already-overstretched resources of the average American homeowner.
In these instances, homeowners are left with the choice of either accepting and living with the home-altering phenomenon or fighting and stretching whatever is left of the family’s meager resources to address the problem. Whichever the homeowner chooses, he rarely emerges victorious because, one way or another, there is always a trade off in either option.
The Economics of Water Damage
Water damage is the most common home-altering phenomenon encountered by majority of households. This is no more especially true in homes that are located in flood prone areas, in places where rainfall seldom stops to take a breather, in geographically low areas, and in areas that are near bodies of water like beaches, rivers, lakes, streams, and other waterways. This is not to mean that homes not built or found in the above mentioned areas do not experience water and water related problems.
Water damage can still come from leaking pipes, broken hoses and water pipes, dysfunctional heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, as well as an ineffective water removal mechanism. There are plenty of possible sources of water and water related damages that the economics associated with this phenomenon is truly astounding, to say the least.
Notwithstanding the abundance and importance of water in our daily lives, it does wreak considerable havoc in our modern day lifestyle that cost effective measures should be observed by every individual household across the globe. However, before we can even begin looking at cost effective and highly practical ways of addressing such problems, let us consider some economic facts about water damage.
1. In 2003, there were 81,518 water and water damage related insurance claims amounting to more than $500 million in insured losses in California alone. These figures can be a lot more significant if countrywide data were available.
2. From 1997 to 2003, California water damage insurance companies paid close to $4 billion to California homeowners.
3. California homeowners claiming water and water related damage insurance reached its peak in 2003 with an average claim of about $5,256, 53% more than the average insurance claim of homeowners in 1997.
4. The average cost of having water damage fully cleaned and restored now amounts to $5,000, and still growing.
5. One in every ten American households experience some type and degree of water damage every day. Since the 2007 estimated number of US households is pegged at 111,162,259, this means that close to 12 million households experience water and water related damage every day.
6. The most often cause of water damage include broken and or leaking water pipes at 54% closely followed by naturally flood prone location at 13%.
One does not actually need these figures to comprehend the economic repercussions of water and water related damage. Since water can affect virtually anything the economic importance of the water damage is directly proportional to the perceived value of the affected item or object. Say, for example, you have a $500 mobile phone that you accidentally slipped into the kitchen sink. No amount of drying or placing the unit under direct heated air current will ever bring back the good condition of the mobile phone. If you are going to have it repair, that will cost you somewhere around tens to a few hundred dollars in additional expenses. The overall value of your mobile phone is no longer just $500 but rather $600 or maybe even more. If the unit is beyond repair, your $500 is wasted and so is the fond memories you may have come to associate with your mobile phone.
Another good example is important office documents and other reading materials. Some literary masterpieces, like artwork, retain and actually appreciate in their value over time. Imagine a piece of literature which is considered priceless for its historical and archival value. What would happen if this were damaged by water?
Balancing the Sheets
We now have a fair idea of the economics of water damage and how it can be particularly frustrating to a struggling homeowner to be faced with the additional burden of having to manage the water damage. Homeowners need not despair because there are certainly a lot of practical ways they can do to manage water damage. Actually, experts will agree that prevention is the best course of action to take – that is, if there is still no water and water related problem in your home.
Nonetheless, given the economic implications of water damage, it is best to start with some preventive measures that are guaranteed to reduce the likelihood of water damage aside from being the most practical thing to do.
1. Inspect your waterworks at least once every year including plumbing fixtures and pipes. Inspect those under the kitchen sink, those in the bathroom including the water pipes that run across your garden. Take note for any sign of corrosion especially towards joints where two pipe ends meet. Check for any dampness or even water stains left on the surfaces directly beneath the water pipes. These areas should remain relatively dry and are free from greenish to blackish stains.
2. Make sure to regularly check your water heaters for patency and integrity. You have to remember that old water heaters have an average shelf life of 10 to 12 years. You do not have to wait that long to replace them because a lot of other environmental factors can significantly increase the rate of deterioration of these old systems. Replace them with more energy-efficient modern water heater systems that are also easier and less expensive to operate.
3. You may want to consider replacing your rubber or plastic water hoses with stainless steel or even mesh hoses as these are more durable to withstand water pressures and temperatures and resist breaking or cracking.
4. Always turn off the main water supply if you are planning to go away from home for an extended period of time. Make sure to turn off all water faucets and devices or appliances that are connected to the water supply. Not only are you going to save from your water consumption you will also prevent the possibility of water damage while you are away.
5. You may want to check the air conditioning unit in the attic or even swamp coolers. When these systems fail, the extent of water damage will be readily visible to the things directly beneath it. Check for loose connections as well as the telltale signs of wear and tear. This is more true if the unit we are talking about is mounted on the roof and directly exposed to weather and climate conditions.
What is essential, as in any preventive measure, in these guidelines is that it does not necessarily prevent water damage per se. what it does however, is that it minimizes the risk of water and water related problems from ever occurring. It offers not so much of a guarantee but it can thus provide the kind of assurance modern homeowners may need in facing the threats of water damage.
Going the Extra Mile
Now, for homeowners who are already faced with the daunting task of managing water damage in their homes, practical but very effective solutions should take precedence over anything else.
1. The very first consideration in managing water damage is in the prompt recognition and definitive action to address the water damage. Once water damage is recognized, the affected objects or items should be immediately removed from the water source to arrest the damaging effects of water. Time is very important in minimizing the extent of the water damage. It should be remembered that the longer an object is in contact with water, the more extensive will be the damage to that object.
2. Minimizing the extent of water damage depends on the mechanism of drying used on each type of object. Homeowners should remember that not all objects can be dried directly under the heat of the sun. Some materials are best dried under the shade or with the use of an air moving appliance like the electric fan and hair dryers. As a rule of thumb, materials made of paper should not be dried directly under the sun lest they crumple making them more difficult to restore. For cloth and fabrics, exposure to the sun may be the best way to dry and limit the water damage. Be very careful with leather materials because some synthetic leather cannot withstand the scorching sun.
3. Try to fix the source of the problem yourself by putting waterproof sealants, caulking substances, and other similar preparations to prevent further seepage of water.
These things rarely set you back for more than a hundred dollars making it very practical and just right for the economically-strapped homeowner of today.