One of the most frustrating, costly, and potentially hazardous things that can happen to a homeowner is to find water damage in their home. Water damage in the home can happen in a wide variety of ways, and the longer it is left untreated, the worse the damage and the danger will get.
Water damage in the home has a number of possible causes. Sometimes the damage is gradual, caused by a leaky roof, a poorly sealed window, or a dripping pipe. Appliances like air conditioners, ice makers, washing machines, and dishwashers can also be culprits; malfunctions or broken water supply hoses can make a big mess in a short time. Plumbing clogs or overflowing sinks and tubs also don’t need very long to create a real problem. Then, of course, are the catastrophic problems – burst pipes, sewer backups, and storm damage and flooding. Residents of the Sarasota area should be particularly aware of the danger of water damage in their homes; while Sarasota benefits from its position on the Gulf side of the state and rarely finds itself in the direct path of an oncoming hurricane, the Sarasota region is frequently clipped by the edges of hurricanes and tropical storms, including “back door” hits when a storm travels the width of the peninsula and runs into Sarasota from the landward side. In addition to water damage in cases of direct flooding, unusually high tides and heavy rains can overload a municipal sewer system, causing sewage back flow into homes.
Experts divide water damage in three categories:
- Category One is water damage in flooding from clean, processed water; drinking water, sink and bathtub overflows, and water supply line problems.
- Category Two is more dangerous to people and animals, and water damage in this case comes from a source with possible chemical or biological contamination. Discharge from washing appliances, sump pump failure, and toilet bowl overflow (without feces) are examples of this damage.
- Water damage in the worst case is Category Three: a source containing unsanitary agents including potentially harmful bacteria or fungi. Sewage, seawater, toilet back flow from past the toilet trap, flooding from streams or rivers, and any other ground water or standing water, result in a Category Three issue.
Water damage in a home that is allowed to remain stagnant for longer than 48 hours upgrades to a more severe category, as dangerous microorganisms continue to breed.
Water damage in your home can cause many structural and repair issues. If carpeting remains soaked for more than 48 hours, it is beyond saving. Water damage in wood causes it to warp, crack, and eventually rot. Iron and steel components will rust and corrode if left untreated. Linoleum peels, stains and curls, needing to be replaced. Water damage in sheetrock and drywall will make them swell, stain, and breed mold. Your home’s electrical wiring can become dangerous, and its structure can be weakened by water damage in the foundation.
Beyond the repair problems, water damage in your home can provide an ideal breeding ground for mold, which presents a major health hazard. Water damage in the home most commonly causes allergenic mold infections, primarily affecting people with asthma or allergies, and causing scratchy throats, skin rashes, and eye or nasal irritation. Pathogenic mold infections are somewhat more severe, especially to people with depressed immune systems; dizziness and disorientation are sometimes symptoms. The worst case is toxic or black mold, which produces toxins that damage the intestines, lungs, and skin, depress the immune system, can cause nausea, diarrhea, tremors, kidney problems, infertility, lung disease, and increase the risk of cancer.