Preventing Water Damage From Plumbing

mold and water damage from basement leak
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Plumbing fixture failures and faulty installations are a leading cause of interior water damage in homes and businesses. Even in the warmer months, when frozen pipes are not a threat, costly losses can arise from what would appear to be simple plumbing problems. Minor leaks and clogs should be taken care of properly as they may be signs of more serious issues.

If a pipe, appliance, hose, or fixture contains running water, it needs to be properly maintained to prevent any water related losses. The list below contains the places where failures are most likely going to happen if not kept in working order.

Toilets

Clogs and overflowing toilets made up 33% of all toilet failures that led to water damage. The valves and flushing mechanism of every toilet in your building should be inspected every six months to ensure they are working and show no signs of wear. The shut off valve should be easy to turn and the supply line should be able to be turned off as well.

Drains & Pipes

Banging pipes, increased water bills, rust stains, and moisture on walls and floors are all signs of plumbing and drain problems. Keep drains and pipes clear of obstructions, and never pour grease down a drain. Have a backflow prevention system installed in your sewer connection if your home or business is located downhill or below street level. For an extra security measure, have a house leak detection system installed.

Washing Machines

Failure of the hose which supplies water to a washing machine is a leading cause of water damage. The hose should be replaced if there are cracks or blisters, and/or if the tubing appears worn. This should be done every five years or when the situation merits. If you are planning on vacating the building for a long period of time, turn off the water supply valves. When doing the laundry, do not overload machines and only use detergents designed for this type of use.

Water Heaters

Like any piece of equipment, age is an important factor in the odds of a mechanical failure. Even with proper maintenance, water heaters need to be replaced after they reach their life expectancy (typically around 10 years – check your manufacturer for model-specific information). In addition, water heaters should be inspected by a plumber every year for broken valves, loose joints, and rust.

You can learn more about how you can prevent plumbing systems from causing water damage to your building by accessing the IBHS’s website.

Plumbing Archives – IBHS.” IBHS. Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, 2016. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.

Understanding Employment Practices Liability Risk

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Many businesses underestimate the potential risk involved with not having employment practices liability insurance (EPLI). Having a code of conduct and expertise in human resources helps mitigate most forms of unlawful employment practices, but incidents can and do still happen. Every business is exposed to employment practices liability, an area of professional liability that includes:

  • Breach of Contract
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Invasion of Privacy
  • Wage/Hour Law Violations
  • Intentional Emotional Distress
  • Wrongful Termination
  • False Imprisonment

The laws regarding these illegal practices are interpreted and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which recognizes eleven types of employment practices discrimination: age, disability, equal pay/compensation, genetic information, national origin, pregnancy, race/color, religion, retaliation, sex, and sexual harassment.

Employment practices don’t deal with just full-time employees either. Volunteers, part-time workers, contractors, customers, and vendors can all file charges against an employer for an alleged violation of these laws. With these types of charges on the rise, it is important for business owners to fully understand the laws surrounding employment practices as well as the tools needed to best protect them from potential lawsuits. For more information about employment practices liability, visit our Employer Protection resource page.

Laws Enforced by EEOC.” U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. USA.gov, n.d. Web. 16 May 2017.

Discrimination by Type.” U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. USA.gov, n.d. Web. 16 May 2017.

Cyber Security Tips for Small Businesses

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In 2014, tens of millions of personal records were compromised by various data breaches. According to The Identity Theft Resource Center, there were 783 recorded data breaches last year, hitting a record high. But while these breaches were headlined by some of the more high-profile cases of JP Morgan Chase, Home Depot, Sony, and Staples, the vast majority of them occur within the small business community, and can cost a small business proportionally much more than the bigger guys. Last year, the average cost of a small retail business data breach exceeded $36,000, and perhaps more worrying, these businesses saw almost a third of their customers leave for good. People often lose trust and confidence in a business that has been hacked or has otherwise mishandled their personal information. This kind of event can also result in lost relationships with key partners and vendors, damage to your brand, and of course, a lot of lost time and stress.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and in an effort to help protect you and your small business, here are some steps you can take:

  • Install updated POS systems with (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) EMV “chip and pin” credit cards which prevent hackers from stealing data contained in standard magnetic strips.
  • Make sure all data being transferred online is encrypted. This includes any emails or files you may send to customers, vendors, or partners.
  • Avoid using Wi-Fi networks to prevent third-party interception of transferred data. If you must use a Wi-Fi, make sure it’s secured with a firewall and a WPA2 encryption.
  • Frequently back up your data to an offsite location to avoid a loss in the event of a fire or burglary.
  • Use common sense with password management as well as email accounts. Don’t use obvious or simple passwords, and don’t open any links that may appear malicious.
  • Shred all outdated or obsolete documents that may still contain sensitive or personal data.
  • Make sure you’re up to date on anti-virus software, and stay current by understanding what the latest security threats and protocols are.
  • Educate your employees to safeguard their own information, accounts, passwords, and shared data.

To learn more about how The N&D® Group can help protect your small business from a devastating data breach, click here.

 

Identity Theft Resource Center Breach Report Hits Record High in 2014.” ID Theft Center. IDT911, 12 Jan. 2015. Web. 5 Oct. 2015.

Small Businesses: The Cost of a Data Breach Is Higher Than You Think.” First Data. N.p., 2014. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.

Stop.Think.Connect. Small Business Resources.” US Department of Homeland Security. US Department of Homeland Security, 2 July 2015. Web. 5 Oct. 2015.