Apr 14, 2020 0

Water Damage: Everything You Need to Know

Water damage is always a serious threat to any home. More importantly, it can pose a serious risk to you, your loved ones, and your pets. To prevent those threats, it’s vital to know how to respond to leaks and flooding in a way that limits structural damage as much as possible, dries the affected area to prevent health risks like mold, and restores your home and belonging to their former state. To help you achieve those goals, here is everything you need to know about water damage.

What Causes Water Damage?

Water damage can happen any time water accumulates in an area where it shouldn’t ordinarily appear. That includes on floors, walls, carpets, and other surfaces. While water can do a great deal of damage in a relatively short period of time, you can limit that destruction by addressing the root causes as soon as you notice that there’s a problem. Water damage can be caused by:

  • Leaks and Burst Pipes. These are typically the most common reasons for water damage. Old and rusty pipes can be more susceptible to leaking and may even burst if they become sufficiently worn. Even relatively sound pipes can be weakened by backed-up toilets, blocked drains, and improperly working garbage disposals.  
  • Natural Disasters and Flooding. Whether it’s a storm, a flash flood, rising streams, or a hurricane, natural disasters can quickly become major water damage issues for your home. While you don’t have any control over these weather-related events, you can and should act quickly to get the help you need to repair any damage.
  • Problems with Appliances. Your house has many appliances that can create unexpected water issues. These include washing machines, water heaters, refrigerators, and dishwashers. A little preventative maintenance can often go a long way toward reducing your home’s water damage risk.
  •  Improperly Maintained Air Conditioning. Without regular maintenance, even your air conditioning system can pose a risk to your home. As moisture builds, it could create an enticing environment for mold spores.

The Clock is Ticking for Repairs

 When you notice water damage in your home, it is important to act promptly. That action plan should begin with an effort to address the source of the water. If the problem is a leak or burst pipe, you will need to shut off the water to prevent any additional pooling or flooding. When the problem is related to a storm, you should attempt to block additional water from entering your home. If water has pooled in an area where electricity might be a danger, you should turn off electrical power to that area as well.

The immediate goal is to stop any additional water, to prevent the problem from getting worse. Once that is done, you should move quickly to find professionals who can help you remove any standing water, dry the affected area, clean the area, and restore it to its former state. Because of issues like mold and structural rot, water damage can get progressively worse if it is not quickly addressed.


Risks and Dangers When Your Home Has Water Damage

The risks and dangers associated with water damage are many and varied. They include damage to the structure, loss of property and belongings, and health concerns:

  • Structural Damage. Any weakening of your home’s structure can place you and your loved ones at risk of injury. Common water damage can include cracks in wood or the foundation, damaged pipes, wires, and gas lines, drenched insulation, wet electrical circuits, and more. 
  • Lost Belongings. Your family’s belongings can be at particular risk during any water event. Furniture, electronics, and priceless heirlooms and photos can all be destroyed by water.
  • Mold and other Health Risks. Mold can take root in as little as 24 hours after water or moisture appear. And while some mold may be harmless, other varieties can cause serious health problems for everyone in the home. In addition, home flooding can have the potential for contaminating water, which can create a perfect environment for spreading disease.

Contact a Reputable Water Damage Restoration Company Right Away

When minor leaks occur, homeowners can often clean up the mess themselves. However, when flooding or other major events take place, it is important to get professional help to deal with the problem. You should always contact a reputable restoration company immediately, to ensure that damage is contained and allow for quick drying, cleanup, and restoration of the area.

Make no mistake: water damage mitigation is a complex process best managed by experienced professionals. A competent water damage restoration company will:

  • Assess the damage, as well as potential risks for mold and other health hazards
  •  Dry out the area, removing water and dehumidifying the home to ensure that no moisture is left behind
  • Remove materials that cannot be salvaged – including porous materials that are likely to be beyond repair
  • Properly disinfect the affected area to remove any lingering mold spores
  • Ensure that your home repairs are completed in a way that restores it to its former state – or better

Note: It is always advisable to find a restoration expert who is willing to work with your insurer to ensure that your home is properly cleaned, dried, and restored. That will also help to reduce your own stress and allow you to focus on other areas of your life while the work is being done.


Common Questions and Important Facts to Know:

Can I live in the home during restoration?

This is one of the most commonly-asked questions, and the answer varies. It depends upon the type of damage that has occurred, which areas of the home are affected, and the extent of restoration that is needed. As a general rule, most people should be able to continue to live in their homes if the water damage is minor and hasn’t impacted core areas of the house. If those areas need to be off-limits for several days, you may want to find other living arrangements.

More serious damage may be even harder to work around. The drying, cleanup, and restoration process can involve the use of noisy machinery that many homeowners may not be able to tolerate in their living space – and understandably so. For most people, staying in a motel or with friends may be a better option, especially if the restoration process is expected to take longer than a few days.

How should I document damage?

It is always a good idea to have written and photographic documentation of your property and belonging for insurance purposes. In addition, some restoration experts can help you with any claims for insurance. In the end, your insurance policy and insurer will determine how much of your property is covered by your policy.

Are there organizations and people I should notify about the damage?

When water damage occurs, you should immediately notify the insurance company and a professional restoration firm. If you will be required to make other living arrangements for a time, you may also want to notify the post office to suspend mail delivery. In addition, you may need to contact government offices to replace any damaged official documents like birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.

Preventing Water Damage: Tips and Strategies

Because water damage in the home can be a costly and frustrating experience, proper prevention is always recommended. The following tips won’t prevent all water damage incidents, but can help to minimize your risk:

  • Properly maintain trees and bushes to minimize the risk of roots damaging your home’s pipes.
  • Keep your gutters and downspouts clean to prevent damage to your roof and gutters.
  • Check your appliances for leaks on a regular basis
  •  Make sure you know where your water main is so that you can shut if off if problems occur.
  • Update old pipes and hoses when possible.
  • Always fix leaks as soon as possible.
  •  Pay attention to your water bill. When your water usage jumps unexpectedly, you could have a leak or other problem that could get progressively worse.
  • Properly maintain your sump pump to ensure that it is doing its job.
  • Consider grading your lawn away from your home if natural flooding is a problem.
  • Examine your basement for any cracks or leaks that might let water in.

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