The Most Common Causes of Water Damage

The Most Common Causes of Water Damage

Running water is essential in your house, but only if it stays where it’s supposed to be. Once water gets out of your pipes or drains and winds up on your floors, in your walls, or above your ceilings, you have a big problem: water damage.

According to industry research, water damage costs Americans $13 billion annually in repairs and water mitigation cleanup. Even a small leak from a water pipe over time can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in repairs!

Because water damage is so destructive (and sneaky), it’s important to keep a keen eye out for any signs of a problem. Here are a few of the most common causes of water damage and how to prevent them, so you know what to look for and hopefully avoid expensive water mitigation costs.

Damaged Pipes

Your house has pipes running all throughout its walls, carrying water to all your various appliances. While you always hope these pipes stay strong and keep the water in, it’s not always the case. Over time, the water pipes in your home can get old and burst or leak. Obviously, a burst pipe will do much more damage quickly, but even a slight leak is enough to cause thousands of dollars in damage if you don’t catch it in time.

The worst part about a leak from damaged pipes is that they can be very hard to catch. Unless the pipe completely bursts and dumps gallons of water through your ceiling (which would be quite easy to spot), you might not even notice a problem for months or weeks later! Most of your water pipes run behind your walls or in the ceiling. Unless there’s visible damage to the drywall, you won’t know a problem exists.

Water damage from leaking pipes is more common in old homes with outdated plumbing systems, but it can happen to homes of any age.

How to Prevent the Problem

Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely prevent damaged pipes. Like all things, your pipes simply wear out over time. The best thing to do is pay attention and catch leaks early, before they become a massive problem.

Here are a few signs that you might have a water leak from damaged pipes:

  • Visible stains on drywall
  • Bubbling or peeling paint
  • Spikes in the water bill
  • Persistent musty smell

If you notice any of these telltale warning signs, turn off your water to limit the damage and call a plumber and a water mitigation expert right away. A water mitigation specialist will inspect your home, find the source of the problem, and clean up any water damage that might have occurred, while the plumber can repair the damaged pipes. Mold can start to grow within 24 hours of a leak, so make sure you clean up water damage quickly.

Leaking Appliances

Just like your pipes, your appliances get old and worn out over time too. When this happens, they can start to leak water all over your floors, causing massive amounts of damage to your home. These are some of the most common appliance culprits for water damage:

  • Dishwasher
  • Washing machine
  • Water heater
  • Refrigerator

In many cases, appliance water damage doesn’t come from the water supply lines but from other sources. For example, refrigerators create a lot of condensation. If they’re not well insulated, the condensation can build up on the outside of the fridge or the condenser unit and drip water onto the floor below. Over time, this can create a weak spot in the floor or allow mold to grow. If it drips for too long, you’ll need a water mitigation expert to clean up the mess.

How to Prevent the Problem

The best way to prevent water damage from appliances is proper maintenance. Make sure all your appliances are in good repair. Be sure to regularly check parts that could leak water:

  • Supply lines
  • Hoses
  • Connectors
  • Drains
  • Gaskets
  • Doors

For appliances with drains, like dishwashers and washing machines, keep the drains clear so they don’t back up. The last thing you want is to open your dishwasher to a flood of dirty, grimy water all over your kitchen.

To keep your dishwasher drain clear, run a quart of vinegar through it every month. That’ll clean out any grime that’s lodged in the drain. While it might not be the most enjoyable chore in the world, be sure to scrape your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. All those leftover food bits can quickly clog the drain, leading to a water mitigation disaster.

For most of your water-based appliances, perform the proper maintenance and check them over regularly for leaks. For larger, more complicated appliances—like your water heater—it’s a good idea to have a plumber inspect them on a regular basis. They’ll be able to ensure your appliances are properly maintained. The faster you find and repair a leaking appliance, the less water damage you’ll have to deal with.

Clogged Drains

From grease and debris to hair and dirt, the drains in your house have to deal with a lot of substances. Sometimes, as your shower drain will attest, your drains can get clogged and back up. In the case of your shower, it’s usually not a big deal, since your shower is designed to hold a decent amount of water, giving you plenty of time to clear the drain. But if something with a lower holding capacity—like a sink or toilet—gets clogged, it can pose a very serious problem.

Clogged drains can cause sinks and appliances to overflow, spilling water onto the floor. Like most other types of water damage, the moisture will seep into the floor and cause rot and mold to form.

In some cases, clogged drains can do more than just damage your home; they can also pose serious health risks to you and your family. Blocked drains can lead to stagnant water collecting in your pipes. The longer the water sits, the worse it becomes.

When the drain finally backs up, all that stagnant water can come back up and fill the air with musty, unhealthy odors. If left untreated, it could lead to symptoms like nausea, headaches, or worse for anyone in your house. It’s not a pleasant thing to experience.

How to Prevent the Problem

The best way to eliminate clogged drains is to stop debris from going down the drain in the first place. Putting large items down the drain—either accidentally or on purpose—is the fastest way to cause a backup. It’s a good idea to put small screens over the sink and shower drains to ensure no large items lodge themselves in the drain.

Pouring boiling water down your drains once per month can also help dissolve things like soap scum, grease, and other debris stuck in the pipes. Without all the buildup, your drains will stay in good shape and safely remove water for years to come.

Natural Disasters

People living in Central Florida are already aware of the devastation natural disasters can bring with them. Harsh weather like hurricanes, severe rainstorms, and flash floods can cause serious water damage to your home.

The ground around your house can only absorb so much water. When it’s reached the limit, the water will sit on top of the ground and flood into your home. It’s not uncommon for Florida homeowners to experience several inches of standing water in their homes after a bad storm.

Home flooding from a natural disaster is one of the most devastating types of water damage. It saturates everything it touches and is almost impossible to clean up. Even after the cleanup, it’s almost a near-certainty that you’ll experience mold problems in the future. Water mitigation costs after a home flood can climb to around $18,930 in severe cases.

How to Prevent the Problem

Unfortunately, you can’t stop hurricanes and floods—although that would be helpful. Instead, you can only prepare yourself for when they come.

There are a few ways you can protect your home from flooding in extreme weather:

  • Grade your lawn – Slope your yard so it runs downhill, away from your house. Water will flow away from your home rather than build up against the foundation.
  • Keep gutters and downspouts clear – Your gutters and downspouts remove water from your roof and carry it away from your home. If they back up from leaves and debris, water can build up on your roof and either leak through the roof or drip to the foundation below.
  • Install flood vents – Most homes in Florida have crawl spaces underneath. Flood vents allow water to flow under your house instead of building up around the foundation and getting into the living space.
  • Prepare for bad weather – If you know severe weather is in the forecast, get your house ready with sandbags and trenches to divert the water away from your home.

Even with proper preparation, there’s no guarantee you’ll avoid flooding from harsh Florida storms. Whenever severe weather is on the horizon, have a water mitigation team ready. The faster you can clean up the water damage from a flood, the fewer issues you’ll have in the future.

HVAC Units

Much like your refrigerator, your HVAC system creates a lot of condensation—especially in hot, humid climates like in Central Florida. All that condensation needs to go somewhere, and if your HVAC system isn’t properly maintained, all that water can pour into your home and cause serious water damage.

These are some of the most common sources of HVAC water damage:

  • Clogged drain
  • Frozen evaporator coils
  • Improperly connected pipes

Most HVAC systems are plumbed so there aren’t any visible pipes. While that might be great for a beautiful living space, it also means HVAC leaks are hard to spot. Like a leaking pipe, you likely won’t even know there’s an issue until it’s too late.

If you do experience water damage from your HVAC system, make sure it’s cleaned up by a water mitigation expert. HVAC leaks can be hard to get to. Hire a specialist to ensure all the water is dried up so mold won’t appear down the road.

How to Prevent the Problem

Preventing water damage from your HVAC system is relatively simple. Just make sure you keep up with HVAC maintenance.

Regularly check the drip pan and drain lines to make sure they’re clean and can allow water to flow out and away from your home. It also helps to get your HVAC system professionally serviced at least once per year. While it might sound like just another cost, an HVAC service is much cheaper than water mitigation and home restoration to clean up extensive water damage.

Structural Damage

Your home is designed to keep water out—at least, as long as it’s in good repair. If your home has structural damage, the door is wide open for water to get in and wreak havoc.

Cracks and holes in your home’s foundation is an easy way for water to flow into your crawl space. As moisture builds, it can weaken your floorboards and the lower structural supports holding up your house. Plus, if not cleaned up by a water mitigation team right away, it can lead to extensive mold problems under your home.

The foundation is only one way water can enter your home because of structural damage. Your roof is also essential when it comes to protecting you from water damage. Even small holes in your roof can cause water to flow into your attic, affecting your home’s structure. If the leaks aren’t repaired quickly, the water can drip down into your living space and ruin your ceilings, walls, or anything else it touches.

How to Prevent the Problem

Regularly inspect the outside of your home for structural damage and get any issues fixed immediately—especially if there’s a storm on the way. Even the slightest crack in the foundation or hole in the roof can lead to serious water damage.

It’s also a good idea to trim back any trees that hang over your roof. Falling branches can puncture holes in your roof, leading to a water-damaged mess inside your home. Keep tree branches at least six feet from the edge of your roof to prevent damage during a storm.

Prevent Water Damage with Water Mitigation Services from CFRS

Unfortunately, water damage is a common problem Florida homeowners have to deal with. Aside from the typical causes of water damage that everyone faces, Floridians also need to watch for the humidity and severe storms as well.

While it certainly helps to follow all precautions to avoid water damage, it’s never guaranteed you’ll avoid it completely. It’s always best to have a water mitigation team ready and available to clean up damp spots and repair damage, just in case. The faster you clean up water damage, the fewer issues (and costs) you’ll experience down the road.

Central Florida Restoration Solutions is a full-service home restoration company that specializes in fire, smoke, mold, and water mitigation. No matter how much water damage you have, the experienced professionals at CFRS will be there to restore your home to livable condition.

If you have water damage in your home, contact the water mitigation experts at CFRS right away to resolve the problem and avoid issues in the future.

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