SIGNS OF WATER DAMAGE
It’s possible for a water leak to be slow. Sometimes we don’t see a large amount of standing water. Instead there are more gradual things to look out for. Slow changes may go unnoticed for a while, but you should keep a careful eye on any changes to your floors, walls or ceilings.
Some of these early warning signs of water damage are peeling or bubbling paint or wallpaper on the walls or ceilings. Over time, the areas will become bloated or swollen and may even warp. When the problem has gone unnoticed for a long time, the walls and ceilings may feel spongy to the touch.
The same thing can happen with slow leaks in the floor as well. By the time a property owner notices a wet patch of carpeting, warping wood,or peeling laminate or tile, there could already be water damage to the sub-flooring.
Every flooring material reacts to water differently. For example, when you have water-damaged carpet, the carpeting will feel wet to the touch, soggy, or even spongy. In one home that had consistent water leaks, there were mushrooms growing out of the carpet.
When ceramic tile experiences water damage, it often shows signs of mold and the grout may crack. Vinyl and linoleum tile will peel and crack when they are left wet, while wood and laminate floors will begin to warp, cup, or buckle.
Always be on the lookout for changes in the walls, ceilings, or flooring of your property. The faster water damage is detected, the less overall damage can occur.
Stains and mold on any areas of your property are another potential sign of water damage. Stains, created by the molecular and chemical components in the water, often develop if there is a slow, consistent leak. Mold, on the other hand, is biological and will appear if an area is consistently damp.
Most water stains are a yellowish-brown color and they grow in irregular shapes around the source of the water leak. You will often see these kinds stains in basements, bathrooms, and laundry rooms as these areas have lots of pipes that can leak and have a lot of water usage.
When stains are found in these areas, they usually indicate that the source of the leak is coming from or related to the use of a plumbing fixture. The water stains are created over time, as these spots go through a repeated cycle of getting wet, then drying, and then getting wet again.
Mold is a type of airborne fungus that grows when there is a constant source of moisture or dampness. Building materials, such as drywall, wood, carpeting, ceilings, furnishings, and other materials in your home are likely to contain mold if they remain damp for a long time or never really get dry.
Mold may appear blue, green, grey, or black, and can often appear fuzzy, with thread-like structures. We also often find mold growing out-of-sight, behind and underneath building materials, like under carpeting, in walls or ceilings, and behind bathroom tile.
We often find mold in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages, and anywhere excess moisture goes undetected.
You don’t just have to see water damage. Often smell will give water damage away as well. Musty odors are a common sign that a property has water damage. The musty smell is like wet newspaper or cardboard and is usually the strongest around the area where the water damage occurred.
The area or room that has the musty smell may also feel damp or humid. If you notice a musty smell, take the time and care to inspect the area thoroughly. Look carefully for other signs of water damage, like mold or stains.
If the property is older, it may be hard to differentiate the musty smell with the variety of smells that come with older properties, but be on the lookout for sudden increases in. In newer homes and properties, a musty smell almost always indicates the presence of water or mold.
If you suspect water damage because of a smell, a restoration team can come out and do a water reading of the walls and floors and see if there is a hidden leak on the property.
A sudden increase in your water or sewage bill can also be indicative of water damage.
We had one customer whose water bill more than tripled in a month, but she couldn’t see any reason for the spike in water usage. When she inspected the water meter she found that the meter was always running. It turned out that she had a slab leak under the foundation that she did not know about. Her water bill was the only indication that anything was wrong.
Review your bill and keep tabs on your averages, comparing your bills from month to month. Be sure to take into consideration life events or landscape watering changes that may lead to an increase in water use. For example, water usage typically increases over the holidays, when you have guests staying for an extended period of time, and throughout the summer months when landscape watering needs are higher.
While minor fluctuations are common, you shouldn’t see huge spikes in water usage that you can’t explain.
While most pipes will last the lifetime of the home, the connections, faucets, and valves are much more likely to wear out over time.
Obviously appliances like, hot water heaters, furnaces, and air conditioning units all have a limited lifespan as well. You should have these appliances check regularly to ensure they are working properly and to prevent leaks or flooding. Watch for leaks around appliances like dishwashers and washing machines.
You can also check to see if your toilets are running frequently and that you don’t have obvious leaks form your faucets. Inspect all visible pipes, valves, and faucets. And since many of your pipes run through your walls, you may be able to identify a potential water issue by listening to the walls if you suspect a leak. You can also listen for sounds of dripping water at night, when surrounding noise is low.
Look beneath your sinks and around toilets to make sure it is always dry and to ensure that water supply and drain pipes are in good condition and not leaking. Cabinets should not be wet or damp and there should be no mold under the sinks.
Another area to inspect is the caulk around your bathtub and sinks. Caulk is a quick, inexpensive fix that can prevent both water damage and mold. If your caulk is damaged or worn away, it’s very easy for water to get behind the walls.
TIPS FOR WATER DAMAGE RESTORATION
CLEANUP AND REPAIR
Once you have identified the water damage and the source of the moisture has been addressed, then it is time for water damage restoration cleanup and repair. The following tips will help you in this process:
When it comes to water damage, time is not on your side. No matter what has caused the water leak on your property, it is important to act quickly.
Unfortunately, many people wait until there is a serious issue before calling for help, even after identifying one or more of the signs we have just listed. While people don’t want to face the cost of repairs, water damage never gets better by itself and the longer water is allowed to remain in an area, the more significant the damage will be.
Whether the water damage is from a plumbing issue, a broken appliance, or a natural disaster or storm, it’s a serious problem that needs immediate attention. The faster the water can be removed and the drying process can occur, the less damage will be incurred on the property.
Not only that but the amount of demolition required will depend on how quickly the water is removed from the area. In some cases, if the damage is addressed in time, we can even use in-place drying techniques that are relatively noninvasive and prevent the need for extensive demolition and restoration.
Mold starts to grow within 24 hours of the surface and building materials being exposed to water. If you can remove the water and begin drying before mold starts growing and spreading spores, you will save yourself a lot of time, effort, and money.
The need to act quickly to counteract the water damage should never come at the expense of safety. Make sure the property is safe to enter before you begin working on cleanup and restoration.
If your home is the victim of widespread flooding, it is possible the water has compromised the structural integrity of the building. In some cases, the walls might not be stable and may be cracked and leaking. When the flooding is intense, even the ceilings can start to sag. Never enter a property that has a possibility of collapse. Enter only when disaster officials have given you clearance to do so.
Before you enter a property that has undergone flooding, turn off the electricity and gas supply to the property. Make sure that you always wear the proper, protective, gear. Standing water can contain unseen dangerous foreign objects or the water may be contaminated and precautions should be taken to avoid injury.
Wear gloves and a ventilated mask and proper footwear. If there is standing water, take cautious steps because there is a risk of slippery floors or obstacles.
In the case of water damage, after you have determined that it is safe to enter the property, the first priority is removing all standing water. The longer water remains on the property the more damage occurs in deterioration of building materials and potential mold growth.
Drywall quickly absorbs any standing water. A sheet of drywall, with its edge sitting in a ½” of water can wick water up to 6 inches in less than three hours.
If there isn’t too much water, you can start removing the water with a wet-dry vacuum. Dry all surfaces with towels.
However, if the water is more than one foot deep, you will want to call a professional restoration company to help remove the water. They can use pumps and specialized equipment to quickly and safely remove the water without compromising the foundation of the home.
As soon as the standing water has been removed, you will want to thoroughly dry the building and building materials. Open all windows and doors and set up large, industrial fans or dehumidifiers to speed the process.
How long it will take to dry the property will depend on the amount of water involved and the extent of the flooding. Most properties take approximately 3-5 days to dry completely.
The biggest factors that influence drying time are location, amount and duration of water saturation, and the source of the water. Other factors include the type of building materials that are damaged, weather conditions and humidity levels, and how quickly emergency services are initiated after the water damage occurs.
The earlier drying can start after water damage, the better chance there is of preventing more costly repairs.
Your restoration company should perform ongoing moisture content readings to ensure that drying is happening in the most effective and efficient way to help you return to pre-loss conditions as quickly as possible.
As soon as you become aware of the water damage, contact your insurance company for instructions on how to proceed with cleanup and restoration. If the water damage is significant enough to require professional help, they will need to authorize work and begin your claims process.
If the damage to building materials has made them unsalvageable, you will want to remove them from the property so that you can expedite the drying process.
If the damage is significant and demolition is required, the faster this happens, the less chance there is of mold spores transferring to other undamaged parts of the house.
Be sure to check behind the cavities and in the insulation of your home. You can have a professional read the walls with a monitor that can check for water and dampness behind the walls.
You want to make sure there aren’t any hidden pockets of water or wet building materials behind the walls, or these places will be breeding grounds for mold and mildew. Even small traces of water can have a rippling destructive effect on your walls, floors, furniture, electrical wiring, and plumbing in your home.
Any wet items need to be taken out of the home so that they can be properly cleaned and dried. Carpets and upholstery can be cleaned professionally. Remove all the furniture from a water damaged area as not only will the water ruin the furniture, wood and metal furniture that gets wet, can leave stains on the carpet.
When the sponge gets clogged and full of soot, flip it over and use a clean side. Repeat with all four sides of the sponge until the upper layer of the sponge is clogged with soot.
Just like the wall itself, do not rinse the sponge with water to clean it, or it will become unusable for cleaning soot.
As you go, you can cut off layers of sponge that are clogged with soot. Use a utility knife, or a razor blade to slice off the soot-covered outer layer of the sponge to get a fresh clean surface to wipe with. You can also just grab a new sponge, but make sure you are using a clean sponge as you work.
As we said before, any dampness that lasts for more than 24 hours may result in mold and mildew on the walls. To remove mold, you can scrub and rinse it off with water, a brush, and detergent if it is not more than a 3 foot by 3 foot area.
If the area where you find mold growth is bigger than that you will need to call a professional mold mitigation specialist. Always were proper protective clothing and take precautions not to let the mold spores transfer to other areas of the property.
Once you’re finished cleaning the mold off, it essential to raise the temperature of your home to prevent mold re-infestation while the water dries. Professional restorers use electrical dehumidifiers and industrial fans to keep the house warm and dry.
One of the very best things you can do when you find water damage is to call Titan Restoration of Arizona. We have been in the water mitigation business for more than two decades and we have an incredible amount of expertise and experience to help you.
Titan Restoration pioneered some of the most innovative in-place drying techniques in the restoration industry and we have a proven track record of minimizing loss for our customers and insurers.
We have the equipment, experience, and expert technicians to remove any standing water and then properly dry your property, fully restoring any damage and mitigating further loss.
TITAN RESTORATION OF ARIZONA IS HERE TO HELP
In this article, we have given you valuable tips on what to do when you have water damage on your property. Remember, you don’t have to handle water damage alone. Whether you have a personal or commercial property, and no matter the size and scope of the water damage, Titan Restoration is equipped and ready to help you return your property to pre-loss conditions as soon as possible.