Ah, the joys of homeownership! When you have water damage, it’s not only stressful and overwhelming, it can also be expensive to repair or even worse – harmful to your family. Standing water contains contaminants and can attract pests, and unaddressed moisture can lead to mold growth. Understanding the common causes of water damage can help you stay ahead of potential problems.

The good news is most times you can prevent a messy water emergency just by taking a few preventative measures! Our emergency crews have seen all kinds of water damage causes in PA and MD, from plumbing problems to clogged gutters. Let’s review the most common water damage causes so you can take steps to prevent them.

burst pipesBurst Pipes

Burst pipes rank high among the most common causes of water damage in homes. This problem becomes particularly prevalent during the cold winter months when the temperature drops significantly. The science behind it is simple yet destructive: when water inside the pipes freezes, it expands. This expansion exerts immense pressure on the pipe from the inside, leading to the pipe bursting open.

The aftermath of a burst pipe can be disastrous, leading to massive amounts of water damage throughout your home. This isn’t just a small puddle we’re talking about – it’s a deluge that can soak your carpets, warp your hardwood floors, and cause significant structural damage. In fact, if not addressed promptly, this excess moisture can even lead to other issues like mold growth, which poses additional health risks.

To prevent burst pipes and subsequent water damage, there are a few proactive measures you can take. First and foremost, ensure your pipes, especially those in unheated areas like basements, garages, and attics, are properly insulated. Pipe insulation materials, such as foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves, are readily available in home improvement stores and can provide a protective layer to keep the cold out and the heat in.


Heavy rainfall and storms, while sometimes beautiful to watch, can cause severe water damage to your home. This risk is especially high if your home is situated in an area prone to floods or has a history of water-related issues. The potential damage isn’t just cosmetic; it can compromise the structural integrity of your home and lead to mold growth, which poses health risks.

One effective preventative measure against water damage, especially for homes in flood-prone areas, is installing a sump pump. A sump pump is a device installed in the lowest part of your house, typically the basement, that automatically pumps out excess water that accumulates during heavy rains or floods. It’s your first line of defense against basement flooding, helping to keep the area dry and preventing water damage to walls, furniture, and other belongings.

Another preventative measure is waterproofing your basement. Waterproofing can be as simple as applying a sealant to the walls and floor, or as complex as installing weeping tiles or a French drain system. These methods create a barrier that prevents water from seeping into your basement, thereby protecting your home’s foundation and interior from water damage.

During a storm, it’s also crucial to pay attention to your roof and gutters. Your roof is your home’s primary shield against rain, so make sure it’s in good condition. Look for missing or damaged shingles, as these could allow water to penetrate your home. Gutters, on the other hand, channel rainwater away from your house. Make sure they are clean and free of debris to prevent water from overflowing and seeping into your home’s foundation.

leaking washing machineLeaking Appliances

While storms and burst pipes may be the first culprits that come to mind when we think of water damage, it’s crucial not to overlook the potential harm posed by leaking appliances. Everyday household appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers can, if not properly maintained, cause significant water damage to your home.

For instance, consider a washing machine. Over time, the hoses connecting the appliance to your home’s water supply can wear out, crack, or lose their seal. Even a small leak can result in gallons of water spilling onto your laundry room floor. Similarly, dishwashers can develop leaks around the door seal or from the water inlet or drain lines. In both cases, the resulting water damage can seep into your flooring, damage your cabinets, and even lead to mold growth if not promptly addressed.

To prevent these scenarios, it’s essential to inspect your appliances regularly for any signs of leakage. This can be as simple as checking the floor around your appliances for pooled water, dampness, or discoloration. If you notice any signs of a leak, it’s important to repair it promptly. Depending on the issue, this might involve tightening a loose connection, replacing a worn-out seal, or calling a professional for more complex repairs.

hot water heaterMalfunctioning Hot Water Heaters

Hot water heaters can also be a source of significant water damage if they malfunction. These appliances, often tucked away in basements or utility rooms, can cause serious problems when they start to leak or burst.

Consider this scenario: you wake up one morning to find your basement flooded, and the culprit is your hot water heater. It’s sprung a leak overnight, and now there’s water everywhere. The carpet is soaked, boxes of stored items are waterlogged, and you’re looking at potentially thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements.

To prevent such a disaster, ensure your hot water heater is in good working condition. Regularly inspect it for signs of rust, corrosion, or water pooling underneath – these could all be indicators of a potential leak. You should also listen for unusual noises like popping or cracking, as these might suggest that there’s sediment buildup in the tank, which can cause the tank to overheat and eventually fail.

HVAC unitFaulty HVAC systems

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are integral to maintaining a comfortable environment in your home. However, if not properly maintained, they can cause significant water damage. The complexity of these systems, with their extensive network of pipes, coils, and condensate pans, means there are multiple points where things could potentially go wrong.

One common issue is the development of leaks in the system. This can happen for several reasons. For example, the condensate drain line, which removes the moisture that your HVAC system pulls from the air, can become clogged with dust, dirt, mold, or even rodent nests. When this happens, the water has nowhere to go and can overflow, causing leaks.

If left unaddressed, these leaks can lead to significant water damage. Water can seep into your walls, ceilings, and flooring, causing them to warp or rot. Over time, this can weaken the structural integrity of your home.

Have your HVAC system inspected and serviced regularly by a professional to prevent water damage. They can check for potential problems like clogged lines or worn-out components, ensure everything is functioning correctly, and perform necessary maintenance tasks. This can include cleaning the system, replacing filters, checking refrigerant levels, and ensuring electrical connections are safe.

Water Damage Restoration Services From Reynolds Restoration

Preventing water damage starts with understanding the top causes and taking preventative measures to avoid them. By regularly inspecting your appliances, pipes, and HVAC systems, you can prevent water damage from occurring in your home. Remember that prevention is always better than repairs, and a little preventative maintenance can go a long way.

Sometimes, even with the best preventative measures in place, things can go wrong and you may end up with a leak, flooded basement, or other kind of water damage. While we hope you never need us, know that our team of emergency restoration specialists in and around Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Baltimore are here to help! We are on-call 24 hours a day to respond to emergencies.