How To Deal With Water Damage
The term "water damage" can be used to describe a significant number of potential losses caused by water being found where it does not belong. Water can enable the destruction of systems or materials through rotting of wood and fabrics, growth, delaminating of materials, rust, and much more. Quite often homeowner's insurance does not cover the value of items destroyed by flooding and dampness. Water damage restoration, or the process of restoring property to the condition it was in prior to the damage caused by water, can be expensive and difficult to accomplish, so prevention is the best option. To prevent water damage in a home, repair leaks, service appliances, improve drainage, and be sure to monitor walls and floors to catch any signs of moisture early.
Dangers of Home Water Damage
Many home owners believe that the likelihood of their home suffering water damage is minimal to nonexistent; this is especially true if they live on hills or in areas which are not usually susceptible to flooding. Flooding due to weather, however, is not the only cause of water damage. Sump pumps failing, broken dishwasher hoses, dishwasher leakage, washing machine overflow, broken pipes, moisture in walls, and more are all common causes of this damage. Many homeowners' insurance policies will not cover the costs associated with repairing this damage unless an addendum is included in the policy with verbiage comparable to "Sewer and Drain Coverage."
Water damage is organized into four classes: Slow Rate of Evaporation, Fast Rate of Evaporation, Fastest Rate of Evaporation, and Specialty Drying Situations. Slow rate of evaporation damage affects only some of the room with minimum moisture being absorbed by the materials. Fast rate of evaporation affects an entire room of cushion or carpet and may have wicked up the walls up to 24 inches. Fastest rate of evaporation generally comes from above and affects the whole area including ceilings, walls, carpet, insulation, cushion, etc. Specialty drying situations typically have deep pockets of saturation and require very low specific humidity.
One of the most dangerous results of water damage is the health hazards it can present. Home owners often either don't notice, or don't worry about a little discoloration found on walls and ceilings, chalking it up to normal wear and tear. Mold, however, can spread throughout a home resulting in serious health consequences. These health consequences can include allergies to the mold such as headaches or migraines, watery and itchy eyes, chronic cough, difficulty breathing, tiredness, rashes, sinus problems, frequent sneezing, and nasal blockage.
Home Water Damage Restoration
Methods of water damage cleanup vary depending on the class of damage. If it has been less than 48 hours and the water was not sewage based, carpet can usually be saved. If it soaked for longer though, it will most likely need to be replaced. Property management teams, homeowners, and building maintenance personnel can all repair the damage; however, certified water damage restoration professionals can be hired and are often considered the safest option for water damage cleanup. They can help speed up repairs and often use specialty drying equipment.
Dangers of Car Water Damage
Each year tens of thousands of cars end up damaged by flood waters. When a car is flooded damage occurs that is much more than just cosmetic. Damage to electric systems and the vehicle's computer, as well as potential malfunctioning of anti-lock braking systems and airbags are possible and likely. When purchasing a used or refurbished vehicle make sure you carefully examine the vehicle for damage by looking in the trunk, dashboard, glove compartment, and below the seat for mud, rust, and silt. Examine the carpeting and upholstery closely to make sure it matches the interior and doesn't fit loosely, as these are signs they have been replaced. Turn the ignition key to verify that all accessory and warning lights come on as they should, and gauges come on and work correctly. Test the lights, turn signals, cigarette lighters, radio, air conditioner, and windshield wipers multiple times to ensure they are working. Flex some of the wires beneath the dash, as brittle wires are a sign that they may have been wet and cosmetic water damage repair was done, without wires and electric being replaced.
The following are additional resources which can be used to find more information on car and home water damage.
- Water Damage Prevention: A Construction Guide (PDF)
- Water Damage Cleanup and Mold Prevention (PDF)
- Steps to Reduce Flood and Water Damage
- Water Damage & Mold
- Rebuilding Water Damaged Homes (PDF)
- How to Cut Losses from Flood and Water Damage
- Health Checklist for Repairing Your Flood Damaged Home
- Repairing Your Flooded Home (PDF)
- Flooded Private Sewage Systems: Safety Sanitation and Clean Up Concerns
- Septic Systems - What to Do After a Flood
- Insurance and Damage Legal FAQ
- Warning About Water Damaged Vehicles
Written By: Lynn Taylor