A dripping faucet or a leaky pipe under the sink doesn’t sound like the end of the world. Most homeowners would prefer to pretend they didn’t have a problem with water damage until Niagara Falls pours out of their shower head and down the hall. Even a few drips an hour isn’t something that you want to let slide because water damage has nasty effects on the home.
The Main Culprits of Water Damage
Flooding and heavy snow, hail, or rain are the most common disasters leading to water damage, but they’re not the only culprits. An earthquake that cracks the foundation could let ground water seep into a home or business’s foundation, causing mold damage and weakening the structure of the building. Human error also accounts for millions of damage every year by neglecting to cover pipes in the winter or simply forgetting to turn off the faucet when watering outdoors by their foundation.
Many leaks originate not at a thin spot in the roof, but inside the house: a clogged toilet, a backed up drain, or a burst pipe can all cause severe water damage. Anything from a cold snap that freezes outdoor pipes to human error of overloading the dishwasher can lead to water damage. The best cure is an ounce of prevention, and with that in mind, regular maintenance of all pipes and water using appliances is for the best.
The Categories of Water Damage
Water damage comes in three categories. They range in severity and represent the danger that the water presents to people.
- Category One This water is from a clean, safe source. It doesn’t pose a threat to people who come into contact with it. It’s the water that comes from an overflowing appliance, or other source where drinkable water has gotten out of hand.
- Category Two This water is not safe. It’s often called “gray water” for its cloudy, murky texture. It’s the kind of water that could breed microorganisms and pose health problems if ingested. Category One water can become Category Two if it’s left to sit, or if clean water at the source mixes with trash or other contaminates. A broken toilet or sump pump could cause a Category Two leak.
- Category Three This water is not safe. It’s often called “black water” for how contaminated it is. It could be contaminated by sewage, or it could be standing water that’s been left to stand and be contaminated further. Categories One and Two can both become Category Three in time. Severe illness or death could result from ingesting this water.
There are also classes of water damage. They range from Class One to Class Four, and they measure the extent of damage done. While Class One requires the least effort to repair, Class Four requires special water removal and water damage restoration procedures.
Water Damage First Aid
When you discover water damage or an active leak on your property, your insurance company should be the first call you make. They should be able to recommend a company for you to begin working with. Remember, you’re not required to use the company that they recommend; most insurance companies will look over a competing estimate if you submit the information that they need. Still, the earlier that you act, the better. Initial, emergency repairs should be taken care of as soon as possible. Even once the immediate crisis has passed, water damage will continue to worsen. Waiting to fix it invites mold, structural weaknesses, and a host of other problems into your property.
In short, water damage is serious. Even a mild problem could turn into a serious one if left untreated. Contacting your insurance company, working with a water restoration company as soon as possible, and performing regular maintenance (to prevent leaks in the first place) are the keys to having a good outcome for your home or business.