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Water damage is one of the most common—and expensive—home repairs you can face. In fact, water damage accounts for more than $2.5 billion in property damage each year, according to the Insurance Information Institute. 

Water damage can come from a variety of sources, including burst pipes, overflowing washing machines, heavy rains, and leaky roofs. And while you may think that your homeowner’s insurance will cover the cost of repairs, that’s not always the case. In fact, many policies exclude damage caused by flooding or leaks. So, how can you protect your home from water damage? Read on to find out.

Common Causes of Water Damage in Homes 

There are a number of common causes of water damage in homes. Some, like burst pipes, are easily preventable with regular maintenance. Others, like heavy rains or leaky roofs, are beyond your control. Here are some of the causes of water damage in homes: 

1. Burst Pipes

Frozen pipes during the winter months are a leading cause of water damage in homes. To prevent pipes from freezing—and potentially bursting—insulate all exposed pipes in your home and disconnect any hoses attached to outdoor faucets. You should also allow a trickle of water to flow through exposed pipes during very cold weather. 

2. Overflowing Washing Machine

A broken washing machine hose is another leading cause of water damage in homes. To prevent your washing machine from flooding your home, inspect the hose for cracks or kinks at least once per year and replace it every five years. In addition, make sure to keep the area around your washing machine clear so that water can drain properly. 

3. Heavy Rains

Heavy rains can cause flooding and water accumulation in your home if gutters and downspouts are blocked or if there are holes in your roof. To prevent flood water from entering your home, clear gutters and downspouts regularly and have your roof inspected for leaks at least once per year by a qualified professional. 

4. Leaky Roof

A leaking or damaged roof is one of the most common—and costly—causes of water damage in homes. That’s why it’s important to have your roof inspected regularly by a qualified professional and make any necessary repairs promptly. You should also be sure to clear leaves and debris from gutters so they can drain properly.   

What are the consequences of water damage?

Most people are aware of the immediate consequences of water damage, such as ruined belongings and the need for repairs. However, there are also a number of long-term consequences of water damage that you may not be aware of. Here are just a few examples: 

1. Mold Growth

One of the most common long-term consequences of water damage is mold growth. If water seeps into your walls or floorboards, it provides the perfect breeding ground for mold. Not only is mold unsightly, but it can also cause a number of health problems, including respiratory difficulties, skin irritation, and headaches. In severe cases, mold exposure can even lead to neurological problems.

2. Damage to The Foundation

Another serious consequence of water damage is damage to your home’s foundation. If water seeps into the soil around your foundation, it can cause the soil to expand and put pressure on your foundation walls. This can lead to cracks in your foundation, which may not be immediately apparent but can result in serious structural problems down the road. 

3. Increased Risk of Flooding

If you live in an area that’s prone to flooding, water damage from one flood can make your home more likely to experience flooding in the future. This is because water damage weakens your home’s structure, making it more susceptible to collapse during a subsequent flood. In other words, once you’ve experienced water damage, you’re at increased risk of experiencing even more serious water damage in the future. 

How can water damage be prevented?

Water damage and the associated repairs cost billions of dollars every year. The good news is that you may take a variety of precautions to guard against water damage in your house. Here are 5 Ways to Prevent Water Damage in Your Home

1. Check your gutters and downspouts regularly

Gutters and downspouts play a crucial role in directing water away from your home, which can help prevent water damage to your foundation. Be sure to clean out your gutters at least once a year, and more often if you live in an area with lots of trees or other debris that can clog them up. You should also check them after any major storms to make sure they’re not blocked or damaged. 

2. Inspect your plumbing regularly

One of the most common causes of water damage is faulty pipes, therefore it’s crucial to regularly check your plumbing and fix any leaks as soon as they are discovered. Keep an eye out for any cracks or holes in your pipes as well, since these can potentially cause leaks.

3. Be prepared for storms. 

If you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, or other severe weather, it’s important to take steps to prepare for storms ahead of time. This includes things like having a supply of freshwater and non-perishable food on hand, as well as making sure your property is insured against flooding or other storm damage. 

4. Don’t wait to repair damage

If your home does sustain water damage, it’s important to act quickly to repair the damage and prevent further issues. This includes things like using fans and dehumidifiers to dry out wet areas, as well as removing any affected materials like carpeting or drywall that cannot be salvaged. 

5. Know where your main water shut-off valve is located

In the event of a major leak, being able to quickly turn off your home’s main water supply can help minimize the amount of water damage sustained. Everyone in your household should know where the main shut-off valve is located, and how to turn it off properly. 

How do you know if your home has water damage?

Water damage is a serious problem that every homeowner should be aware of. Unfortunately, water damage is often not immediately apparent, which can lead to even more extensive problems down the road. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of water damage and what to do if you suspect your home may have been affected. Here are some of the most common signs of water damage:

1. Discoloration on ceilings or walls

If you notice any stains or discoloration on your ceilings or walls, it’s possible that there is water damage. These stains are often caused by leaks in the roof or pipes. 

2. Dampness in carpeting

If your carpets feel damp or moist, this could be a sign of water damage. Carpets that are constantly wet are at risk for mold and mildew growth. 

3. Peeling paint

Paint that is peeling or bubbling away from walls or ceilings may be a sign of moisture in the walls. This is especially true if the peeling is occurring in areas where there are no vents or windows. 

If you notice any of these signs in your home, it’s important to take action right away. The first step is to call a professional to assess the situation and determine the extent of the damage. From there, they’ll be able to develop a plan to repair the damage and prevent any further issues. 

What should you do if you find water damage in your home?

No one wants to find water damage in their home. But if you do, it’s important to take quick and decisive action. The faster you act, the less damage will be done, and the easier it will be to clean up and repair the affected area. Here are four steps to take if you find water damage in your home.

1. Call a Water Damage Restoration Specialist

The first thing you should do is call a water damage restoration specialist. These professionals have the training and experience necessary to quickly assess the damage and develop a plan for restoring your home to its pre-damaged state. They will also have the necessary equipment to extract the water and dry out the affected area.

2. Stop the Source of the Water

Once you’ve called a water damage restoration specialist, your next priority should be stopping the source of the water, if possible. Whether that means turning off a broken pipe or putting a tarp over a hole in your roof, stopping the flow of water will help minimize the damage.

3. Remove Any saturated insulation or Drywall

If any insulation or drywall has been soaked through by the water, it will need to be removed and replaced. These materials cannot be effectively dried out and will only serve to continue absorbing moisture, which will lead to further damage and mold growth.

4. Begin Drying Out the Affected Area

Once you’ve stopped the source of water and removed any saturated insulation or drywall, it’s time to begin drying out the affected area. This can be done with fans, dehumidifiers, and/or industrial drying equipment. The goal is to get the area as dry as possible as quickly as possible to prevent further damage and mold growth. 

How can you tell if water damage has been repaired properly?

If your home has experienced water damage, it is important to make sure that the repairs have been done correctly in order to avoid further damage down the road. Here are a few tips on how to tell if water damage has been properly repaired.

1. Check for mold

One of the most common problems after water damage is mold growth. Mold can cause serious health problems, so it is important to make sure that all mold has been removed and that the area is completely dry before proceeding with repairs. 

2. Inspect the area for any remaining water damage

Take a close look at walls, floors, and ceilings for any signs of water damage. If you see any stains, warping, or other damaged areas, this is an indicator that the repair job was not done correctly and further work is needed. 

3. Check for leaks

Once the repairs have been completed, it is important to check for any leaks that may have developed as a result of the water damage. Use a flashlight to inspect under sinks and in closets, crawl spaces, and attics for any signs of moisture or leaks. 

4. Test the area for proper drainage

In order to prevent future water damage, it is important to make sure that the repaired area drains properly. To test this, simply pour a small amount of water onto the repaired surface and watch to see how quickly it drains away. If it does not drain quickly enough, there may be an issue with the repair job that needs to be addressed.

What are some common myths about water damage?

Water damage is one of the most common homeowner insurance claims. In 2018 alone, Forbes reported that insurers paid out over $12B in water damage claims. Water damage can occur from a number of sources, both inside and outside of your home – think leaky roofs, broken pipes, overflowing toilets, and heavy rains. 

Despite its frequency, there are still many myths about water damage and what it can do to your home.

Myth #1 Only homes with old plumbing need to worry about water damage. 

Fact: One of the most common causes of water damage is actually broken or frozen pipes. Pipes can freeze in the winter when temperatures drop suddenly and they are not properly insulated. If a pipe bursts, it can cause extensive damage to your home very quickly. This is why it’s important to have your pipes checked by a plumber regularly and to make sure they are properly insulated before the start of winter. 

Myth #2 Once my home dries out, the water damage will be gone. 

Fact: Unfortunately, this is not the case. Even after your home dries out, there is still a risk for mold growth. Mold thrives in warm, humid environments and can start growing within 48 hours of water exposure. Not only is mold unsightly, but it can also cause health problems like allergies and respiratory issues. 

Myth #3 My homeowner’s insurance will cover all water damage repairs. 

Fact: Homeowners insurance does cover some types of water damage, but not all of them. For example, if your pipe bursts due to negligence on your part (i.e., you did not have it regularly inspected or failed to insulate it properly), then your insurance company may refuse to pay for the damages. It’s important to read your policy carefully so that you know what is and isn’t covered before you experience any water damage. 

How can you find a reputable water damage repair company?

According to the IICRC, water damage and restoration companies will do more than $210 billion in business annually. With that much money on the line, it’s no wonder there are so many companies to choose from. When your home has been damaged by water, whether it’s from a storm, a broken pipe, or another type of flooding, you need to find a reputable company to come in and repair the damage. But with so many companies out there, how can you be sure you’re choosing a reputable one? Here are a few tips:

1. Get referrals from friends or family

If someone you know has used a water damage repair company and had a good experience, that’s a great place to start. They can tell you about their experience and give you an idea of what to expect.

2. Do your research

Once you have a few companies in mind, take some time to research them online. Read reviews from other customers and get an idea of the type of service they provide. You can also check out their website and see if they have industry awards or accreditations.

3. Ask questions

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, contact the companies and ask any questions you may have. Be sure to ask about their experience repairing water damage, what equipment they use, and how long the process will take. This is also a good time to get an estimate of the cost of repairs.

4. Get everything in writing

Once you’ve chosen a company, be sure to get everything in writing before they begin work on your home. This should include an estimate of the cost of repairs as well as a detailed description of the work that will be done. This will protect you in case anything goes wrong during the repair process.

Conclusion

You can’t always prevent water damage entirely, but there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of it happening in your home. By regularly maintaining your plumbing, inspecting your roof and gutters, and clearing leaves and debris from around your home, you can help protect your property from costly water damage repairs.