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How Much Damage Can A Water Leak Cause?

Do you really want to know?

Water damage is something most homeowners dread, especially in certain seasons when pipes are cracking, snow is melting, leaves are clogging, or rain is falling.

In this post we discuss how water damage can affect both you and your home. We then outline the most common causes of water leakage and provide a few practical solutions you can use to prevent them.

So What’s The Damage?

The amount of damage a water leak can cause depends on the severity of the leak. Some leaks are manageable and hardly need attending to. Others can literally alter the way you live forever. Just read about this one example.

Besides potentially ruining carpet, flooring, furniture, and electronics, water damage can be terrible for your overall health. The moist environment creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold that can compromise your immune system and increase the risk of respiratory diseases and other serious medical problems.

Cleaning up the leakage as quickly as possible will help mitigate the damage. If you can’t do it yourself, don’t hesitate to call a professional.

Of course, as we have stressed so often on this blog, the best way to fix a problem is to keep it from happening in the first place.

Top Causes Of Water Leaks And How To Prevent Them

1) Clogs

Toilets, sinks, showers, and especially appliances like washing machines are all susceptible to clogs, and hair, food, and grease are some of the most common culprits. Slower drainage is a sign that a clog is forming, and it shouldn’t be ignored. If too much of the pipe gets blocked, you could see leakage and overflow.

Prevention:

  • Avoid flushing anything besides human waste and toilet paper. This includes hair, facial tissues, and other seemingly insignificant items.

  • Keep hose connections tightened for all appliances.

  • Check out our post on how to prevent common household drainage issues.

2) Deteriorating Pipes

Pipes naturally rust and deteriorate after years of use, and cracks and crevasses can release various amounts of water. Detecting these cracks is much trickier than dealing with a clog, and there isn’t much you can do to prevent them besides investing in quality pipes in the first place.

Prevention:

  • Known the warning signs. Don’t ignore water spots on the walls or ceiling.

  • If something looks suspicious, address it immediately. It’s better to error on the side of caution.

3) Air-Conditioning Systems

When the weather gets warm and our air-conditioners are working full blast, a lot of condensation is created. Most of these systems have pans that catch the excess water, but many have to be manually drained. Some don’t. Either way, avoid leaving these pans unattended for long periods of time.

Prevention:

  • Have your air-conditioning system inspected to insure that everything is working properly.

  • Consider having a professional install a float switch that stops the AC system if there is a clog in the drainage system.

4) Sediment In Water Heaters

Older water heaters can sometimes be the cause of water leakage. Rusting or deteriorating connections and sediment build up inside the tank prevents it from working properly. Water heaters have many components that constantly shut on and off, so one little malfunction and your floor could be soaked.

Prevention:

  • Like we mention in a previous post, inspect and maintain the heaters anode rod every couple years.

  • Flush sediment from your hot water tank occasionally.

5) External Elements

If you haven’t had to use a tin can to collect water from a leaky roof at least once in your life, consider yourself lucky. Roofs, siding, and windows are all susceptible to water leakage, and the last thing you want during a storm is to find out your windows are letting water in.  

Prevention:

  • Clean and unclog gutters 1-2 times per year.

  • Replace damaged caulk around windows and doors.

  • Inspect roof, siding, and windows for damage, and replace when necessary.

Final Thoughts

The more aware you are about the causes of water leakage, and the more steps you take to maintain your home, the more you can let your mind at ease. Water damage has affected many homeowners, but you don’t have to be one of them.

Have you ever had water damage caused by a leak?

Share your experiences with us in the comments.

Image: Flickr