(This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. While clicking these links won't cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running and keep it free!)
You know what they say, little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Forget the proverb; better believe it.
Water damage simply happens. Be it a broken pipe, a leaky roof, or an overflowing dishwasher, it will come into your life with the worst intentions and will be torture even after it’s gone.
One of the best natural elements and yet so sneaky and dangerous. It represents health, yet it can make you ill. One day you return home to find the floors flooded, the drywall damaged, and the carpets soaked. And you start screaming without knowing that there’s worse to come: mold. That’s the story of water damage and its aftermath. And here are some things you should know & do.
Water damage sources
Let’s be realistic here! Flooding is easy. All it takes is bad plumbing to feel like a duck. It often happens accidentally. You let the water running to fill the tub and run to pick up the ringing phone. A few minutes of happy chatting later, the tub overflows, and the water saturates the floor and thus the living room ceiling. Sounds too far stretched? Well, it’s not. It really happens. Let’s focus on the main sources of water damage. Not that you don’t know (or suspect) the causes. But as you most likely know, knowledge is power. It will urge you to take precautions, maintain equipment and know what to include in the insurance policy.
Clogged drains, toilets, sinks…
If you flush and the water comes up higher than usual, have it checked. Having a toilet overflow is the last thing you want. If the drains are clogged, there will most likely be a sewer backup. The floors will be flooded in no time. That won’t be good at all.
Although not a cause for a flood, a leaky faucet is a sign of a problem. And when it comes to plumbing, problems should be killed while still young. So, if pipes leak, have them checked and possibly replaced. The goal here is to prevent pipes from bursting. If this happens, you’ll have a massive problem in your hands. Don’t forget that plumbing pipes travel around most parts of the house and more often than not, they break when they are worn or frozen.
Okay. If your washer, freezer, refrigerator or dishwasher leaks, the damage won’t (necessarily) be catastrophic but will still be water damage. It depends on the extent of the problem. If it’s serious, it can really flood the floor and thus ruin it. It goes without saying that routine inspections and appliance service come handy for the avoidance of such problems.
Roofs become damaged and not necessarily after two decades of lifespan. Although built to withstand the daily beating, the elements wear the shingles. They might be rated to remain intact to impact, but ice dams, strong winds, flying objects, and large tree branches can cause severe damage. Broken shingles will let water penetrate and leak onto your floors. It depends on the attic insulation and roof installation too. Flashing damage will also cause leaks. Damaged and clogged gutters will also cause leaks. The possibilities of roof leaks are plenty.
Natural disasters do not happen every day, but there are plenty of regions prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, heavy rainfall, heavy snowfall, and fierce winds. When the weather is in a bad mood, the shingles break, the rivers overflow, the poorly caulked windows become damaged and finally, your house gets flooded.
Let’s face it! You won’t be happy if the bathroom floods. But having your legs soaked by clean water from a leaky faucet won’t give you the goosebumps; having the legs soaked by water caused by a sewer backup will. So, there’s water and then there’s water. That leads us to the reasonable conclusion that not all water damages are the same. The main categories of water damage are three according to the IICRC’s Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration.
Category I – Clean Water – In this case, water damage is caused by leaky faucets, broken pipes, or rainwater falling vertically. The water is not contaminated and there will be no harm to humans or pets if consumed.
Category II – Grey Water – This category includes wastewater leaking from home appliances or flushing from tubs or sinks. Since it doesn’t contain fecal matter, it is not considered 100% harmful, but it’s not clean either. It is still contaminated, and so if consumed by pets or humans, it might cause illness.
Category III – Black Water – The description says it all! The water is contaminated since the sources of the flood are usually toilet overflow, sewage backup, overflowing rivers, or stagnant water. Blackwater contains urine, bacteria, and fecal matter and so it may become fatal if humans or pets consume it.
Water damage: what comes next?
It’s critical to keep in mind two important things:
- Clean water can easily degrade to grey water if the damage is not handled fast. The reason for that is clear: the water will be stagnant and bacteria will accumulate before you know it.
- We said it before: not all water damages are the same. And although the water damage category is a crucial determinant, the restoration process also depends on the extent of the problem. Let me explain.
A water damage restoration company must assess the problem before they get to work. What do they have to check? Among other things and apart from defining the source and thus the category of the water damage, they have to see:
- If the whole house is affected or only specific areas are flooded.
- How much water is present in the affected area!
- Which materials are affected and how absorbent they are – carpets, wood, cushions, etc.
- Whether or not the foundations of the building or other structural elements (walls, ceilings, floors) are damaged.
Naturally, the source of the water damage must be fixed first. There’s no point in calling the pros for the water damage remediation if the roof still leaks. All the same, you shouldn’t wait for long either. The more you wait, the higher the chances for even clean water getting contaminated and the structural elements getting saturated.
Now, the water damage restoration process depends on all the above factors but mainly includes several steps:
- Water extraction
- Removal of damaged furniture, carpets, insulation, drywall or other materials
- Drying and dehumidifying the affected area.
And now, we get to the interesting part:
- Mold inspection
You see, it’s not just the water that might cause illness or even death if it is contaminated but what such calamities leave behind. It’s just like fire. Fire burns but smoke chokes. Although a quick-fire damage restoration is a must, smoke removal is critical too.
Same thing with water damage.
The aftermath won’t only affect your buildings and belongings but your health too. You see, mold spores are quickly reproduced in moist environments. And mold is bad for you. It may be found all over nature, but its presence in confined areas is terrible news.
And there’s more bad news. It snowballs quickly. Give it one or two days and mold will take over all spaces which are damp. If it’s warm, even better. That’s why wet carpets must be removed with the speed of light. Mold destroys materials and can make you ill. If you already suffer from allergies, all the worse. If you have kids or elderly staying with you, it will be bad since weak systems suffer faster and are affected severely.
Yes, if mold is present, it must be detected and removed. And that’s part of the water damage remediation company’s job.
What should follow?
Ventilation & inspection. There’s no denying that flood restoration companies know what to do to rectify the problem, but it won’t hurt if you would take a look here and there to make sure there’s no mold. You won’t find water puddles, but you need to make sure all areas are one hundred percent dry. Follow your nose. If there’s a funny odor, don’t ignore it. Sometimes, mold hides behind drywall or under carpets. By making sure all areas in the house are dry and well-ventilated, you can prevent additional troubles.
Can you prevent water damage?
Oftentimes, it takes a few rather small steps to prevent a disaster. Think about all the common sources of water damage and you will know what to do.
- Check appliances, plumbing, and the main water supply lines regularly.
- Insulate pipes, especially if they are found in the basement or attic.
- Have the roof checked and the gutter cleaned or repaired.
- Don’t ignore water stains – look at your ceiling.
- Check the downspout – rainwater must be angled away from your home.
- Make sure all windows are properly sealed.
- Waterproof the basement.
Can you play it God? No. Unless you are almighty, you cannot do anything to stop natural disasters, but you can be ready to protect your home from heavy rainfalls and overflowing streams. As for the pipes and roof leaks, there are things you can do. You might think water damage won’t happen to you or floods don’t occur quickly. Let me assure you that a few drops of water now will cause major water damage before you can say Jack. Take action today.