If you’ve experienced water damage to your home and possessions, be it through a leakage or flooding or any other means, then there are no doubt a fair few questions and concerns racing through your mind.
More often than not you probably won't even notice the start of the water leak unless of course you have fallen victim to flooding damage.
Water has a habit of getting into and damaging almost anything in it's way so always keep your most valuable items raised off the floor and stored in water tight containers if possible.
If caught early major damage can be mitigated, but left unchecked water can wreak havoc on your possessions and on the integrity of your building, not to mention the health risks that can arise from the resulting mold that can form.
Depending on the severity of the damage you may need to vacate your home whilst the repairs are being made.
All of this can result in a hefty bill not to mention how much of your time and energy it will eat up as you try to organize a contractor to fix the leak and then ultimately have to deal with an insurance assessor.
Water Damage Causes
Apart from the obvious things like your water heater leaking or a burst pipe there are actually a lot of different possible causes of water leaks and the resulting damage that it can cause.
- Leaking pipes
- Burst Pipes
- Plumbing issues
- Broken roof tiles
- Fault rain down pipes
- Faulty Appliances
- Buildup of standing water
- Heating, ventilating, air conditioning and dehumidifying units
The causes of a leak are not always quite so obvious. Thanks to gravity water has a natural tendency to move to the lowest point that it can.
What starts out in one room or from a certain appliance may manifest itself in a totally different area in your home. That is why you should always employ a professional to do a thourough examination of your leak.
Signs of Water Damage
As the saying goes prevention is always better than cure and knowing what to look for is crucial to catching any potential issue before it becomes a major problem.
1. Warping or Blistering of Surfaces
Keep an eye out for any changes to your doors, floors, ceilings and walls for any kind of warping or blistering. When water comes in contact with these surfaces for long periods of time it can cause them to swell up and absorb more water especially if you have a warm house.
Every home owner should routinely walk around each room looking for any subtle differences in the surfaces of the home.
This should not be limited to the interior only, make the same kind of inspection on the outside surfaces of you house.
2. Visible patches of Mold or Stains
Mold loves damp warm conditions and it will show up easily on a nicely painted white walls. It will usually start as just a few tiny specks.
Lack of ventilation can help to foster the perfect environment for mold to occur so in area's like kitchens and bathrooms you may not necessarily have a leak, just the saturated warm air condensing on the walls and ceiling.
Stains will normally be caused by a direct leak or water that has come to rest in a particular place. Once even a small stain is found you should act immediately as the water has probably been leaking for a time before the stain has actually shown up.
3. Old Plumbing
If you happen to live in an old building with really old plumbig then there is a strong risk that eventually those old pipes and fixtures will start to leak. Regular inspections is crucial. If possible you should try to set aside a budget for the eventual replacement costs.
Replacing old pipes can actually be done in stages so the outlay can be staggered over several years. It can be worth getting a plumber in to do a complete assessment of you pipe work to see what kind of condition it is in.
4. Damp or Musty Odors
Damp smells are usually a sign that there is some hidden water collecting that may not have any visible signs. Behind dry wall and in between the floors and ceiling can be a place for water to pool without it necessarily showing.
Once you smell any such odor then you need to have it looked at. Smells can carry through spaces so the cause may not always be obvious.
Although flooding is the obvious one to look out for and you should also be aware that changes in the seasons can be a cause for concern.
Down pipes for example can be blocked in the fall, once the heavy winter rains arrive they may well not be able to handle the higher volume of water.
Proper maintenance and regular inspections at least twice a year will go a long way towards making sure that your external pipes and drains are working correctly.
Mold And Insurance.
A side from obvious clean ups and repairs that need to be made after any form of water damage, you also need to be aware of the not so obvious problems that may arise, such as mold, which, even on a small scale can be of a significant risk to your health.
There are may different types of mold that can be attributed to water leaks and build up. Some of which can cause serious issues for young children and the elderly.
You’ll also no doubt be wanting to know whether you’re covered for any water damage by your insurance company, and to what extent and in what cases you are protected.
Solutions will vary depending on the specific cause of the water damage and to what extent the damage is. For example, water to your home as a result of a storm or flood will not be addressed in the same way as water damage experienced from a leaking pipe. So bare that in mind and be sure to read the information and advice that is most relevant to you and your situation.
Getting Back To Normal
This can obviously be a very stressful time for you, especially the bigger the extent of the water damage, but know that there are always people to help you and ensure that the process of getting back to normal goes as smooth and as stress-free as possible.
It’s important that you work to resolve the water damage as soon as possible no matter how insignificant it may seem, instead of ignoring it. Unless seen to, the problem will only grow and get worse if left unattended and you’ll be risking your health without you fully realizing it.
Only an expert can give you a time frame for how long the repairs may take. Just bear in mind that they may find larger issues than expected and this can increase your time to repair significantly.
Bring In The Experts
Often times you’ll find it’s a lot better and safer to bring in experts to assess your situation, as often they’ll be able to identify things that your weren’t aware of or are completely unable to resolve yourself.
For example, a certified disaster restoration contractor will be able to detect moisture behind dry walls using specialized equipment, that you otherwise may not have known about.
They should also be able to advise you on how to proceed with any insurance claims. Once the work is completed make sure to retain all the necessary paper work from whoever fixes your issue as you will be required by your insurance company to submit documented evidence of the repairs even if an assessor is sent out to look at the damage.
Overall, no matter how small or insignificant the water damage appears to be, it’s important to take the matter extremely seriously and ensure that you work with the right people that are qualified to help you.
Even if the problems seems to have stopped or reduced itself, it doesn’t mean that the problem is solved.
Although most people are obviously annoyed about water damage, due to the physical damage that can be witnessed, most people aren’t fully aware of the health risks that become apparent as a result.