Water Damage 101: What You Need to Know and What You Need to Do

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As common as it may be, water damage provides a significant threat to your personal property. Prevention and preparation are key to ensure you don’t fall victim to significant damage, but it’s equally important (and essential) to also understand the restoration or remediation process required if an emergency occurs. To help you feel confident addressing water damage in your home or office, we’ll review the most common causes to know about water damage, basic prevention and the restoration process:

1. Common Causes of Water Damage

The reality is, water damage can come from a variety of events or circumstances. Water is an essential part of our everyday life, but that doesn’t mean it can’t cause a lot of damage. Overall, the most common causes of water damage can be put into six basic categories:

  • Severe Weather: Rainstorms, hurricanes and other natural disasters will always be one of the leading, non-preventable causes of water damage. Depending on your location, you may be more susceptible to severe weather.
  • Pipe Leaks: Loose, leaking or broken pipes can cause water damage, both seen and unseen. For example, a broken pipe under the sink will likely be noticeable quickly if you spend time in the kitchen. In contrast, a broken pipe in your wall may go unnoticed and cause excess mold or mildew, in addition to structural damage.
  • Appliance Malfunctions: Everything from your washer and dryer to your dishwasher use water, and a small malfunction or break can cause the appliance to leak water. Condensation from these appliances can also cause potential water damage, too.
  • Blocked Drains: If you’re unable to perform regular maintenance on your pipes or don’t regularly remove debris from your drains, it’s possible that the blockage can lead to flooding.
  • Water Supply Line Leak: Appliances, like your washer, receive water through a supply line. These lines go through a lot of pressure on a daily basis, and may be subject to breakage over time.
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While this list isn’t completely exhaustive of every potential hazard, it’s important to keep them in mind. This list can help you create a plan to mitigate water damage if flooding occurs, or know where to look for potential issues.

2. Basic Water Damage Prevention

There are four basic elements of a strong water damage prevention plan: preparation, maintenance, inspection and insurance:

  • Preparation: Preparing your home against water damage can take many forms. At a basic level, you’ll want to ensure everyone in your home is able to locate both the stopcock and sump pump. Each of these tools are critical to stopping a leak or water damage from spreading in the home. 
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance of your property and appliances can also help mitigate any potential water damage. This can include things like clearing the roof gutters, repairing pipe insulation or installing a water leak detection device.
  • Inspection: Frequent inspections are one of the best ways to identify water problems early. Consider scheduling time with an expert to inspect your pipes, roof and appliances to ensure everything is working properly. While you don’t need to do this every month, consider scheduling an inspection of your home after each year’s rainy season.
  • Insurance: Homeowners insurance may cover some damages caused by water, but if the flooding is due to lack of maintenance, broken pipes, roof damage or mold, you may end up paying out of pocket. This is why it’s important to continually maintain your home to prevent energies not covered by your insurance.

Depending on the size of your space, you may need to plan on more maintenance than is outlined here. Office spaces and working environments may also have separate standards that require additional action to prevent water damage from occurring.

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3. The Water Damage Restoration Process

In the case of an emergency and water damage, you’ll most likely need to contact experts for help. Small floods can be addressed at home, but larger water spills may cause collateral damage that could be easily missed without the help of a professional.

The process of restoring water damage for SERVPRO experts begins with a call to your specialist. Then, they’ll assess the damage and perform immediate water removal, if required. Once all water has been removed, a process of drying and dehumidification will help ensure that mold will not begin or continue to grow. The drying phase is then followed by a deep cleaning and sanitization before moving to any final restoration needs. This could include things like drywall removal, hardwood floor repair, tile repair, carpet reinstallation or painting.

You never know when water damage will strike, so it’s important to know ahead of time who you’re going to call and how quickly they respond to their clients. Ideally, you can use the same professionals for both your inspections and damage emergencies. Remember, the best way to combat water damage is to focus on preparation for prevention—but if you do have an emergency, act quickly to make the call and address the damage.

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