Water damage is one of the most common issues that home inspectors find. In fact, water is often considered the worst thing for buildings and their structural integrity. A study found that 37% of homeowners say they have suffered losses from water-related issues.
Today, we’ll walk through some of the most common sources of water damage, and the most expensive issues that it causes.
What causes water damage?
It is often easy to identify water damage if you know what to look for. For example, if you notice warping doors or baseboards, crumbling drywall, or drips and rust, there’s likely been a leak at some point. You might also notice efflorescence, a white residue left behind when water evaporates (leaving minerals behind).
Here are a few of the most common causes of water damage:
1. Severe weather or natural disasters
Most homes are designed to divert water away from the foundation when the water comes from above (like rain). Hurricanes, snowstorms, and thunderstorms with severe wind can push water toward your home in unusual directions, putting water where it shouldn’t be.
2. Clogged drains or gutters
Your gutters are meant to draw rainwater away from your home; however, they often get blocked by leaves, branches, and other types of debris. This can cause water to overflow, and leak into important areas.
3. Leaking pipes
A loose-fitting or broken pipe can cause severe damage if left untreated. For example, when a pipe behind a wall has a drip, it will slowly damage the drywall. A broken pipe is even worse and can cause severe damage to walls and other areas in your home.
4. Washing machine water supply line leak
Your washing machine is fed by water supply lines that often come under pressure when the washing machine is running. Pipes wear out and rupture over time, which can cause leaks and flooding.
5. HVAC systems
Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems within your home can also cause damage. For example, a leaky water heater can damage your home slowly over time if left untreated.
Whatever the cause of water damage to your home, it needs to be recognized and addressed quickly to prevent further damage and expenses.
Cost of repairing water damage
Water damage is dangerous because it isn’t always noticeable. Most water-related issues are caused by small drips or leaks, leading to more damage over time. The average homeowner paid over $3,000 to repair water damage. This ranges from $3.50 to $7 per square foot.
The most common types of water damage
So what are the most common types of water damage? Let's take a look.
1. Structural damage
One of the biggest ways water can damage your home is in your foundation or roof. Structural damage is the most hazardous and costly to repair.
Small cracks in your foundation or gaps in your shingles aren’t an issue on their own. However, this allows water to enter. When water freezes, it expands, causing the cracks to expand as well. Over time, this can cause serious structural damage.
2. Uncontrolled mold growth
One of the worst things water can do to your house is create a safe environment for mold to grow. Damp and moist areas, at the right temperature, can cause mold to grow in as few as 48 hours.
Once the mold is present, it can be challenging and expensive to treat and remove. Furthermore, if mold is left untreated, it can spread and cause adverse health effects.
3. Health problems
If mold is left untreated and grows in your property, it can cause some severe health issues for you and your family. For example, mold can lead to skin and respiratory issues, especially for people who have preexisting problems.
Additionally, water damage is also a breeding ground for bugs and bacteria. If not treated correctly, toxins can linger on your furniture, carpets, and appliances long after the water has dried up.
If you live in a flood zone, flood water can also cause you problems. Flooding from sewage or unsanitary sources should be treated immediately.
4. Damaged wiring, gas lines, and appliances
Once electrical systems are damaged by moisture, wiring and electrical boxes are unsafe to use until they’re professionally inspected.
If you have had flooding, remember to turn off electrical and gas services to avoid shocks or leaks. If wiring or gas lines are damaged by water, you will need rewiring and new gas lines - two very costly repairs.
5. Stains and bad smells
Stains are one of the easiest ways to detect water damage. If you have leaky pipes, you’ll notice a yellowish stain on your walls or ceiling. You may notice the dampness on the walls. If you don’t take care of it soon, these stains could lead to much bigger problems like wood rot.
Water damage in your home can also lead to a musty odor. It isn’t easy to cover up the bad smell, and the only way to get rid of it is by treating the water damage.
6. Rotting wood
Many homes have wooden floors, beams, baseboards, and furnishings, which are particularly susceptible to water damage. Wood absorbs moisture immediately and begins to swell over time. Rotting also causes the wood to soften, making it a tripping and falling hazard. As with most water-related issues, this gets worse over time. Addressing wood rot early saves time and money.
7. Pests and bugs
Water-damaged areas in your home are the perfect breeding ground for insects like termites. And as we all know, insects multiply rapidly.
Wood-destroying organisms (termites) do tons of damage quickly. The only way to get rid of it is through professional treatment.
How to prevent water damage
You can take precautions to prevent water damage in your home or at least lower the chances of it happening. For example, one common cause of flooding and damage to a property’s foundation is driveways or sidewalks sloping towards the structure, which directs water to pool around the foundation.
Over time, water damages the foundation or erodes the ground around it, causing structural issues. To prevent this, everything should slope away from the foundation, and gutters should pour at least 4 feet from the house.
Additionally, it’s always a good idea to have your home inspected regularly. By getting an inspection with a qualified inspector, you will be able to find and fix water leaks and damage quickly - before they become more hazardous and expensive. We recommend getting an inspection every 1-2 years.
How Inspectify can help
At Inspectify, we help you find the best inspector within a matter of minutes. All you need to do is make a booking on our website, and our team will handle the rest.
If you still have any questions, feel free to comment below or reach out to us. We’d be more than happy to help.