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How To Spot Water Damage In Your Home

After conducting a study of insurance claims related to water damage, The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety found five causes for water damage to homes, which are failure from:

  • Plumbing supply systems
  • Toilets
  • Washing machines
  • Water heaters
  • Plumbing drain systems

The chances of water damage to your home can be lessened with regular inspections of interior plumbing systems and by keeping up with maintenance of pipes and drains. However, common appliances and fixtures in your home may begin to work improperly without advance notice, such as:

  • Washing machines (overflowing)
  • Dishwashers (leaks)
  • Refrigerators (ice machines and water lines)
  • Hot water heaters (malfunctioning)
  • Foundation (cracks)

It can also come from outside sources, such as flooding and problems with outside sewer lines. When issues with your home’s water system do occur, it is important to know how to spot the damage in your home.

What to look for:

  1. Stains: Look for discolorations on your ceiling, walls, and floors.
  2. Soft spots: If you notice soft or weak spots on your floor, or sagging in certain spots, it is possible that water has made its way into the wood underneath and is causing rot.
  3. Warping/Blistering: Loose and peeling paint on interior walls, as well as buckling and cracked flooring, can be signs of moisture underneath the surface.
  4. Odors: Mold, mildew, and moist wood can all emit particular smells which is an indication of a leak somewhere and subsequent damage occurring. 

Simply covering up these issues with a coat of paint, or attempting to simply scrub away a stain, will not always fix the problem. The solution needs to be specific to the cause of the damage. A bleach and water solution can be used to attack mold and a quality stain-blocking primer can seal stains on discolored paint. However, wet insulation or damaged floors may need to be replaced altogether, as well as drywall if it has been left wet for too long.

The Water Page lists the different classes of water damage.  These are helpful when assessing the issue and include: Class 1 (least harmful), Class 2 (damage to carpets), Class 3 (water from broken sprinklers or overhead sources), and Class 4 (special restoration and removal required). The level of restoration and repair necessary will depend on the class of water damage your home has experienced.

The best way is to be proactive in your own home and perform regular maintenance checkups of appliances, pipes, hot water heaters, and the roof. If you notice anything unusual, or you spot discoloration or moisture where it should not be, call a professional and get the problem checked out. A quality, licensed professional is trained to address the issue and offer a solution so that your home can be back to normal quickly. If left untreated, water damage can be a health hazard, as mold and mildew grow quickly and spread rapidly. The longer moisture is allowed to remain on wooden surfaces, the greater the possibility that damage will continue to occur over time. Rotting wood, water seeping in through a cracked foundation, and damp drywall can weaken a home’s structure and cause long-term problems.

It is possible the problem may not be as big as it seems, so it is always a good idea to consult an expert. A reputable company can guide you through the process of figuring out the cause of the water damage and work toward fixing it in a timely manner.


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