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Water Damage FAQ Session with Gary Schuelke from Schuelke Plumbing

Mar 18, 2019

Recently, we sat down with the CEO of Schuelke Plumbing, Gary Schuelke, to ask him some of out most commonly asked water damage related topics.

What are the biggest causes of water damage?

The biggest causes for major water damage are typically increased pressure coming into the home, which causes your shutoff valves for toilets and sinks and stuff to leak, and also puts additional strain on the water systems, whether it’s copper or galvanized, for the water systems coming into your home.

Also the other issues can be lack of maintenance, periodic maintenance on your sewer system. Your sewer system can get clogged and you not know it, and suddenly you’ve got a backup that’s overflowing the toilets or flows out of the drain pipe for the washing machine, something like that.

You know, you’re dealing with a lot of water coming out all at one time that can cause major damage to your home.

What are some of the best practices when dealing with your insurance agency, especially the water damage situation?

First and foremost, you need to deal with a plumbing company that knows how insurance companies work and what insurance companies will and will not allow as far as filing a claim for damage related to a water leak or a sewage backup. And having a good knowledgeable plumbing company that can write a good report that defends the client’s position is very, very important.

Secondly, having a company that knows what the process is that can walk them through each step of the way from the plumbing repair to the water mitigation to the bill back, you know, or the repairs to the home, and knows how all that works and the timelines of those things is going to make things a lot less stressful for a client. They need to understand that a normal insurance process is going to take anywhere from three to four weeks from the time we get started fixing the plenty to the time that their house is back to normal, sometimes longer depending on how quickly the insurance company you can get things turned around as far as paperwork.

What are the costs associated with a water damage cleanup?

Well, the good thing is if they’ve got homeowner’s insurance and their loss is covered by their insurance, you know, every bit of that water damage mitigation and repair is covered by their insurance company, you know, obviously less their deductible. But it really depends on how much damage there is. Same goes for commercial water damage.

Our average invoice to insurance companies is anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000. And that’s for a small water damage loss. So it definitely is in the best interest of, you know, someone who’s got some water damage to call Schuelke Plumbing or a knowledgeable plumbing company out to assess what the problem is and get the ball rolling for them so that they can make sure they get the coverage that they deserve from their insurance company.

Is it pretty much the same cost-wise throughout the state of California?
It fluctuates it because the way that the insurance companies work, or the computer system that we use, the computer program that we use to estimate the cost, is based on the region where it occurs because of the labor rates and cost of doing business varies depending on the region in California that you’re working. And the computer program automatically has all of those labor rates and things tabulated in the program. But it’s not going to vary, you know, a huge amount, maybe a thousand dollars here or there.

What type of questions should I ask to make sure I choose the right water damage company?

Well, the very first question I would ask is, “What type of experience do you have dealing with water damage, and specifically dealing with insurance companies?” You know, the water damage, the actual work itself, is very straightforward type of work that needs to be done. But dealing with the insurance company and their process can be stressful for customers. And having someone who’s knowledgeable. So yeah, I would ask what kind of experience they had in doing the water damage or dealing with insurance companies and how many years experience do they have. That to me is going to be the number one issue for a customer to ask.

Secondly, you know, do they have their own in-house employees that do the work? A lot of plumbing companies out there subcontract the older damage work out to a restoration company and they’re getting a referral fee or a percentage of whatever it is that that restoration company’s able to get. And, you know, once that plumbing company turns it over to the restoration company, they’re going to be out of the game.

With our company, you’re dealing with one company for the entire project from start to finish. We don’t sub-contract anything out. All of the work that’s done is to our employees.

Does most homeowner’s insurance cover mold?

It does not. It’s very, very uncommon that we find policies that cover mold damage. People need to understand that homeowners policies will cover a sudden burst of a water line or a sudden release of water from your drain system. And by sudden they, you know, they usually cap it at about 14 days.

Anything beyond that, when mold starts to grow, dry rot starts to set into the wood, things like that, you’re going to get denied by your insurance company. There are some insurance policies that have an additional addendum to them for mold mitigation, and those are usually capped at about $5,000. But, again, those are very few and far between that we run across. So, again, very important to have a plumbing company/restoration company that knows what they’re talking about and knows how to navigate through those difficult situations and can help get the coverage that you need.

So it sounds like as soon as someone sees anything that looks like mold, they should call a pro ASAP, right?

Absolutely. As soon as you see any … it looks like moisture. You know, a lot of people will, “Oh, I thought that, you know, I left a wet rag underneath the kitchen sink and didn’t think anything of it. And I didn’t call and, you know, three weeks down the road now they’ve got mold. And they didn’t see any moisture or anything like that, but it’s important that, you know, you call a professional plumbing company out there to at least to do an inspection so you can make sure you’re not going to end up putting yourself in a position where you’re going to get denied by your insurance company.

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