As a general contractor specializing in the restoration industry for over 19 years, I have seen and dealt with thousands of water and mold damage issues in homes and businesses.
Every project has unique aspects, challenges, and solutions, but the majority of causes are often from a shortlist of usual suspects.
In this article, I would like to share my knowledge and experiences related to water damage in buildings so that others may have a better understanding of the common causes, impacts, and potential solutions.
Once a leak or visible damage has been discovered it should be stopped by turning off or stopping the water if possible and have the area inspected by trained professionals for potential need of additional repairs or services.
Damage caused can range from a small spot of wet drywall that can be dried and repaired fairly easily, to entire multistory building floods that cause significant damage to the walls, ceilings, flooring, cabinetry, furniture, and belongings.
Time and volume of water are often the most significant factors influencing the extent of restoration and repairs needed.
Major floods are usually obvious, but keep in mind slow leaks can often go unnoticed inside walls for several weeks or months before visible damage starts to appear. The prolonged duration often leads to significant damage and mold.
Insurance coverage may also come into question as many homeowner’s policies only cover “sudden and immediate bursts of water”, thereby potentially excluding long term leaks, and the damage and mold growth caused by them.
If you notice bubbling paint, stains, swelling of cabinetry or baseboards, mold spots, or any other irregularities in your home or business, it should be inspected by a restoration specialist using professional water detection devices.
LEAKING COPPER PIPES
One of the most common causes of water damage to buildings is leaking copper water supply lines. These are the pipes inside walls, floor, and ceiling that bring water to your various fixtures in your home or business. This can range from a large crack leaking hundreds of gallons an hour to tiny pinhole leaks from corrosion and age, holes from nails and screws, acidic soil (for pipes under a concrete slab), earthquakes, and expansion from freezing in cold climates.
The solutions involved are to have a plumber make the necessary repairs to stop the leak, and have wet areas inspected, thoroughly dried, and repaired as needed by a restoration company.
MALFUNCTIONING FIXTURES AND APPLIANCES
Any fixtures and appliances that involve water can fail and lead to water damage. Toilets, faucets, showers and tubs, dishwashers, fridge ice maker lines, condensation drains from air conditioning units, water heaters, clothes washing machines, water filtration systems, and the flexible braided steel or rubber hoses that supply many of these devices with water are common causes of significant damage.
The solutions involved are to have the appliance repaired or replaced by an appliance service company, and have wet or damaged areas inspected, thoroughly dried, and repaired as needed by a restoration company.
The plastic and cast iron pipes in buildings used to drain wastewater to the sewer system or septic tank can break from age, corrosion punctures from nails and screws, major earthquakes, and expansion from freezing in cold climates.
These types of leaks can sometimes be hard to detect as they will only leak when a plumbing fixture like a shower or sink is used, so the leakage can be intermittent. Drain water leaks are considered unclean, potentially harmful, and addressed by a professional. This aspect along with being dirty water also leads them to be more prone to mold growth.
The solutions involved are to have a plumber make the necessary repairs to stop the leak, and have wet areas inspected, thoroughly dried, sanitized, and repaired as needed by a professional restoration company.
WEATHER RELATED WATER INTRUSION
Severe weather causes tens of billions in damage every year. This can range from a small window or roof leak to an entire building inundated with floodwater. Similar to drain pipe leaks, the water involved in these situations should be considered unclean and treated accordingly. These types of leaks can also be difficult to initially detect as they may start small and intermittently. Like slow pipe leaks, water intrusion issues are more prone to having mold growth.
If possible, exterior originating water intrusion from a specific source like a roof or window should be taped and sandbagged off until permanent repairs can be made, and damage restoration specialists should be called in to assess and deal with any potential damage from it.
The solutions involved are to have a roofer or waterproofing specialist make the necessary repairs to stop the leak, and have wet areas inspected, thoroughly dried, and repaired as needed by a restoration company.
Other potential sources of water damage and mold growth to be aware of include fire sprinkler systems, leaking soil planters, water intrusion from broken irrigation lines, clogged drain and sewer backups, broken fish tanks, leaking pools and saunas, condensation, and exposure to elevated humidity.
All of these causes for water damage and mold should be taken seriously as they can be time-consuming, costly, and potentially hazardous. Having your issues assessed and dealt with in a timely manner by highly trained and equipped professionals can often be fewer headaches and expense in the long run.
In addition, a modest amount of preventative maintenance goes a long way. Potential water sources such as plumbing fixtures, water heaters, supply lines, roofing, irrigation, and fire sprinkler systems, and appliances should be inspected periodically for potential wear or failure to prevent or minimize the possibility of water damage and mold.
I hope you found this information useful. Feel free to respond if you have any comments or questions.
Restoration Specialists of Santa Monica