According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, as little as six inches of water can sweep someone off their feet, and 12 inches of water can move a small vehicle. SUVs, vans, and trucks will get swept away in 18 to 24 inches of water. Water can also be destructive to buildings, homes, and other structures from a rainfall, tropical storm, or burst pipes and cause thousands of dollars in water damage.

At Reynolds Restoration Services, we have worked with many residential and commercial clients in the past 15 years who have experienced water damage resulting from a small, leaky pipe or a catastrophic flood from a storm. While every loss is different, our team has found the top three water-damaged areas that home and business owners should not ignore after a water-related emergency. Here are a few things commonly impacted by water damage.

Damaged Drywall

The average 2,000-square-foot home has approximately 6,500 to 7,900 square feet of drywall. Depending on the type installed in a home, this can equate to nearly $20,000 in value. Unfortunately, most home and office water emergencies affect drywall, making this one of the most damaged areas after a water loss. While damaged drywall is an eyesore, it can also lead to more severe problems like mold and mildew growth. Mold thrives in damp and high-humidity spaces and can be dangerous to building occupants. Mold has links to respiratory and related health issues and requires immediate remediation.

Wet Insulation

Most homes and businesses rely on in-wall insulation to help regulate the indoor air temperate for the building. Insulation helps keep spaces warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. However, insulation installed in attics and walls is often subject to water damage as a result of a leaky roof or window. While wet fiberglass insulation will eventually dry and won’t lose its insulation capacity, insulation that has become compacted or is in a closed wall cavity will usually not rapidly dry out. The insulation’s dampness may eventually migrate to the drywall and floorboards, causing additional damage.

Soaked Carpets

Perhaps the most visible impact of a water loss is wet carpeting, which is one of the more common water damages. If you have ever used a home carpet cleaner or spilled a glass of water, you know how long it takes for the materials to dry, even though the water spilled or used was a small amount. When large amounts of water permeate carpeting, this can lead to more significant issues like mold and bacterial growth. If water has come in contact with area rugs or any moveable carpet, move them to a well-ventilated area to dry. With wall-to-wall or fully installed carpeting, specialized equipment such as air movers and dryers may be necessary to speed up the drying process.

The Causes of Water Damage: Water Damage Facts

While some water damage results from natural disasters, it can also occur after leaks, broken appliances, or continually running fixtures. It’s crucial to take preventive steps against water leakage in homes and buildings. Learn about the prevalent causes of water damage and what you can do to prevent these issues. In addition to floods and storms, some of the most common causes of water damage are:

  • Cracks in water pipes
  • Leaks between pipe connections
  • Leaky faucets
  • Continuously running toilets
  • Discharge from dishwashers
  • Sewage spills
  • Water heater failures
  • Water supply hose failures

Many appliances and other elements in your home or business use water to operate — your laundry machine, water heater, faucets, showers, dishwasher, toilets, and refrigerator all require water. At any point where water is present, water damage can occur. When water accumulates, health and safety risks become a concern.

The Dangers of Water Damage

It’s vital to note the varying levels of danger associated with leaks and spills. While some spills may be more inconvenient than dangerous, contaminated water can cause illness or death. Water damage falls into three categories.

  1. Clean water: Clean water spills, such as sink overflows, are not contaminated. These may lead to mold or other dangers if left unattended, but they pose no safety risks immediately after the spill.
  2. Gray water: These spills might carry some contaminants. One example of a gray water spill is discharge from a dishwasher. A gray water spill may cause illness or death to an exposed person, but the risk is mid-level.
  3. Black water: The most dangerous type of spill, black water is heavily contaminated. A black water spill might be a sewage overflow or any water that has been standing for a long time. Keep in mind a clean water spill can become a black water spill if left unattended.

As you can see, a water-related issue in your home or business is more than an inconvenience — it can pose a genuine threat to you and your family or employees. Standing water in a building, whether the result of a natural disaster, faulty appliances, or leaking pipes, can pose several health and safety risks. These include mold buildup, chemical hazards, and electrical hazards. It’s crucial for home or business owners to catch and address water spills quickly to minimize health risks.

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How to Prevent Leaks

Often, we only consider flooding caused by natural disasters when we protect homes and businesses, but appliance and pipe leaks can be just as damaging. You can take steps to guard your home or business against leaks and the water damage they can cause. The more preventive measures you take, the less likely you are to encounter a water damage disaster.

Keeping your appliances and pipes in top shape will help decrease the likelihood of leaks. Routinely schedule plumber visits, perform checks for leaks, and replace old or worn parts of appliances.

1. Call a Plumber

The first step, unsurprisingly, is to contact a plumber to schedule routine maintenance. You should have both your water heater and toilets inspected regularly. During a water heater inspection, a plumber should check for any signs of leaking or rusting and may drain some water from the tank. A plumber should also examine your toilet to make sure it flushes efficiently and is free of tank leaks.

2. Check for Leaks Often

Regularly check the pipes in your home or business and keep an eye out for water spots on walls and ceilings. Peek under the sink from time to time to check for pooling water or rust. Listen for drips and leaks at any faucets or showerheads, and look for water going the wrong direction when you turn a faucet on.

Water leaks may not be visible or evident — you can use strategies to discover hidden leaks. Listen for unusual noises in your pipes, as this may indicate a leak. Check your utility bill for unexpected spikes. Read your water meter while no water is in use. Put some food coloring in the toilet tank and see if any ends up in the bowl. If so, a leak may be present.

3. Replace Hoses and Stay Alert

Another preventive measure you can take is to replace the hoses on water-using appliances, especially if higher-quality hose options are available. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for leaks in your pipes and hoses, and be sure to address them as soon as possible to avoid the dangers of standing water. As an added precaution, you may consider installing leak alarms and automatic shutoff systems. These can be especially helpful if you have to monitor a large building with a labyrinth of pipes and hoses.

You can take steps as a home or business owner to prevent water-related emergencies caused by faulty equipment or leaks. It’s essential to check for leaks often and stay alert to the signs of an impending water issue. Pay attention to your appliances, your utility bill, and your water meter. Call in a plumber often.

How to Prevent Flood Damage

In addition to preventing leaks, you can take precautions against natural flooding. Though we have no power to stop natural disasters, we can take measures to minimize their impact.

First of all, make sure you have up-to-date flood insurance, especially if you live in a high-risk area. Determine the base flood elevation level (BFE), which is how high water is likely to rise during flooding. Protect valuables and important documents by putting them in waterproof containers and storing them as high as possible. Install hard-surface floors rather than carpet in areas below the BFE. Seal walls, and install flood vents and flood-resistant insulation.

If you live or work in a high-risk area, you should take every possible precaution against flooding. Even if you live somewhere less likely to flood, it’s a good idea to plan — flooding can happen anywhere. If you don’t guard your home or business against flooding, you may find yourself in a difficult position. Despite all the things you might do to prepare, flooding due to natural disasters or faulty appliances can still occur. When flooding happens, act quickly.

Time is of the Essence

While the initial damage after a water loss may feel overwhelming, you can save your home or business by taking quick action. It is critical to begin the drying process as quickly as possible to minimize structural damage and mitigate mold and mildew growth.

For small water incidents, move any water-soaked items to a well-ventilated space to begin drying. For example, relocate things like area rugs, furniture, and décor. For extensive water losses that perhaps dumped gallons of water into a space, consider partnering with a professional water emergency response company like Reynolds Restoration Services.

For 15 years, Reynolds Restoration Services have helped homeowners and business in the Mid-Atlantic region, including Harrisburg, PA, Philadelphia, PA, and the Baltimore/DC Metro area, clean up their spaces after a water loss. Our team of trained professionals is available to respond 24/7 to help so you can get back to business – or back home – quickly. We have the equipment and team to dry out spaces, perform reconstruction on damaged structures, and can even restore contents to their pre-loss condition. If your home or business has experienced a water loss, reach out today to connect.