Water damage happens quickly; if the problem isn’t taken care of just as fast, it can become incredibly destructive in a heartbeat. In just a few minutes, water can be absorbed by porous materials such as carpet and sheetrock and ruin it. Standing water can cause serious structural damage.
Water intrusion into your home, whether internal or external, is a destructive force, so make an immediate call to a water restoration company. The longer you wait, the more damage is done. And the damage caused by water is not just to your home. It also can be hazardous to your health.
In this article, we’ll explore the most common causes of water damage, what it can do to your home, the classifications of water damage, and the health concerns that accompany it. We’ll also discuss why water damage isn’t a do-it-yourself problem and why you need a restoration company.
The Most Common Causes of Water Damage
One thing about water is that it can be sneaky. You often don’t know it’s happening until it’s too late, and it can happen at any time. Here are the most common causes of water damage in homes.
Leaking or burst pipes
Keep a sharp eye out for water stains on your ceiling, walls, or floors. Unfortunately, what you see can just be the tip of the iceberg. A leak can go on behind a wall for months or even years before it creates visible damage. The passage of time is the enemy here, as the water can saturate wood and create structural damage. Burst or broken pipes or broken water connectors can cause a flood in minutes that can wreak havoc on your entire home.
Over time, hoses weaken, and pipes can rust inside appliances. Gaskets get worn, and drains get clogged. The result? A flooded kitchen or laundry room floor.
Washing machines have hoses that are under a lot of constant pressure, and if you have PVC or rubber supply lines, they can rupture.
Refrigerators can have an overflowing evaporator pan, a leak in the water supply to your ice maker, or a clogged drain line. These all can cause water to overflow onto your floor.
Old water heaters can spring a leak and cause flooding quickly.
Dishwashers have a lot of flooding potential if you use too much detergent, but a problem can also be caused by a problem in the float switch, a clogged strainer, or the water supply lines.
Toilets are often flooding culprits. Overflowing can be caused by flushing the wrong things, too much down the toilet, or a malfunctioning float that overfills the tank.
Bathroom and kitchen sinks can get clogged with all sorts of things, including food, grease, and hair. This can cause a number of problems, including sewage backed up into your sink, and can damage floorboards and wall support beams.
Weather and Natural disasters
A heavy downpour with strong winds can damage your roof and send water cascading into your home. Even a snowstorm can bring water into your home. If too much rain falls at once or snow melts too quickly, flash floods can cause flooding in your home. A natural disaster, such as a hurricane, can really amp up the damage.
Sump pump issues
You might have a sump pump in your basement, which is a great way to keep it dry, but if it stops working, it could leave you in a world of hurt. Inspect it regularly, and if you find any leaks, it’s time to call a professional.
Clogged gutters and drain lines
Gutters are designed to take rainwater away from your home, but the water can’t flow away if they are choked with leaves and other items. Instead, it will overflow your gutters and send the water inside to damage walls and ceilings.
Existing structural damage
Moisture can drip through cracks in concrete and into crawl spaces, which can mean mold and rot.
Keep in mind that you don’t need a lot of water to cause damage to your home, and it doesn’t take long to be destructive. For example, water on a hardwood floor left sitting for a day can lead to buckled planks and expensive repairs. Call a water restoration company immediately, whether it’s a plumbing or weather-related issue.
How Water Can Damage Your Home
Water is known as a universal solvent. Water can dissolve more materials than any other liquid chemical. This is what makes it so dangerous to your home. If you don’t take care of water damage immediately, it causes issues in a number of areas:
It can hurt your property value. You can’t really hide the signs of water damage. It bleeds through paint, causes lumps and bumps in walls, and can cause a nose-wrinkling smell.
Structural damage. Drywall starts crumbling fast, the subfloor can be damaged, and beams inside the walls can warp and rot. Even masonry, concrete, brick, and stone can suffer damage by absorbing small amounts of water through cracks. This water will eventually weaken the foundation of your home.
Electrical system damage. Water is the enemy of anything electric, and if damaged by moisture, outlets and electrical boxes are unsafe to use until they are inspected by a professional.
Damage to personal items. Water destroys paper and can ruin photographs, books, and personal documents. Quick action is needed to save these items. In addition, furniture, clothing, carpets, drapes, etc. can all be ruined if there’s enough water in your home.
Insects. Mosquitoes, beetles, fleas, and spiders are just a few of the critters that love water damage.
Mold Growth. This is the perfect segue to our next section. The presence of any water at the right temperature can cause mold to grow. And it grows quickly–within 48 hours. And mold can be hazardous to your health.
Mold is only one of the health hazards you face with water damage.
How Water Damage is Harmful to Your Health
If you don’t deal with water damage right away, you or your family could develop health issues. Small leaks lead to mold, and floodwater can cause life-threatening illnesses. The health impacts of water damage and flooding are just another good reason to call restoration services immediately when you have a problem. Let’s take at what you could be dealing with after water damage.
Mold spores are everywhere, all the time. Unless you have an allergy to mold, you probably don’t even notice it. There are thousands of molds. Some cause allergies and some produce mycotoxins that can create serious health issues. But every mold in high concentrations and under the right conditions can cause problems when people inhale the airborne mold spores in large quantities.
For some, even a small number of mold spores can cause problems. These include:
- Immunocompromised individuals
- Pregnant women
- Those with respiratory problems such as asthma
- The elderly
If you suffer the following symptoms, you may be suffering from mold exposure. It’s important to note that if you have these symptoms and are unaware of any water damage, you should call a water restoration company immediately and have them thoroughly check.
- Wheezing, asthma attacks
- Nasal and sinus congestion
- A dry, hacking cough
- Burning, watery, or red eyes
- Sore throat
- Sneezing fits and bloody noses
- Rashes or hives
- Headaches, memory loss, mood changes
- Body aches
As we mentioned, not all molds are hazardous, but some are associated with significant health problems:
Stachybotrys atra–Toxic black mold. This mold is slimy and greenish-black. It looks like black paint or tar. This mold grows on wet materials made from vegetable fiber, including paper and wood. The most common health effects include a chronic cough, sneezing, eye irritation, sore throat, rashes, chronic fatigue, and frequent headaches.
Cladosporium is often found on painted walls, wood, and carpets. It can be green, brown, gray, or black, and this mold can cause pulmonary edema and emphysema.
Fusarium is an orange mold that grows on carpets and fabrics. If not taken care of promptly, it can cause anything from a mild allergic reaction to a severe respiratory condition.
Chaetmium looks like cotton candy, and it loves wood and drywall. This mold can cause asthma, sneezing, and other sinus issues; it is dangerous to pregnant women and is carcinogenic.
Bacteria can be found everywhere, and there are over 10 million species. Fortunately, most of these don’t cause health problems in humans. However, the bacteria that grow after water damage can be deadly. Some diseases that can be caused by bacteria found in buildings include:
- Legionnaires’ Disease
- Digestive and respiratory diseases from fecal bacteria
There are times when water damage is associated with fecal bacteria, including toilet overflows and sewage backups, and flood water. Among these bacteria are:
- Escherichia coli
- Fecal Streptococcus
- Clostridium difficile
- Helicobacter pylori
Not only do you face the risk of infections from these bacteria, but some also produce endotoxins. When you breathe in endotoxins, they cause respiratory problems. Even when these bacteria are killed, the endotoxins may still exist. Disinfectant isn’t going to kill these bacteria–you need professional services.
Viruses are probably the last thing you think of when it comes to water damage, but if there is sewage involved, you may be exposed to hepatitis A, enteroviruses (which can cause polio and foot and mouth disease), norovirus (usually referred to as the “stomach flu”), and rotavirus (another stomach bug).
All of this is pretty scary. You might be tempted to try to clean things up yourself, but water damage restoration is not a do-it-yourself job. It’s likely that you don’t know how to assess the type or severity of water damage, perform inadequate drainage and drying, and don’t have the proper mold, bacteria, and virus mitigation equipment.
This is why it is imperative to call a professional immediately for water damage restoration. They have the necessary experience to deal with these situations appropriately and return your home to you in a safe condition for you and your family.
Why You Should Hire a Professional Water Damage Restoration Service
As you can see, water damage restoration is a job for professionals. They know what to look for, what to do about it, and how to keep themselves safe. Here are some great reasons to hire a water damage restoration company:
- They have the right equipment to dry your home out quickly, including water extractors, fans, and heaters. Time is of the essence.
- They have the expertise to perform an accurate assessment of the damage and then develop an action plan.
- They can handle insurance claims. Dealing with an insurance company in New York can be challenging, but a water damage restoration company knows exactly what to do to make sure your home insurance claim is filed correctly and quickly.
- They have a team of professionals. Water damage restoration pros know the ins and outs, including the hazards. They know how to protect themselves from bacteria, molds, and toxins.
- 24/7 service. A storm hits in the middle of the night and is stronger than expected. The wind has blown off shingles, your roof has a leak, and water is running down your walls. Who are you gonna call? A water damage restoration service that will immediately dispatch a team.
Water damage is nothing to mess around with. It damages your home, can damage your health, and hurt your property value.
SOS Mitigation: The Water Damage Restoration Pros
SOS Mitigation provides water and fire damage restoration services in Queens, Long Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island, and New Jersey. Our Immediate response teams are standing by to help you get back to normal as quickly as possible.
We’re restoration industry experts who use the most advanced and innovative practices and equipment to make sure your home is completely restored to its pre-damaged condition. We’re your partner, and we guide you through the entire process.
Our primary goal is to get your property back to normal with the least stress possible. We are locally owned, family operated, and have been serving the NYC metro area for more than 10 years. Water doesn’t wait, and neither should you. When water strikes, you need the best water restoration companies near you!