Water damage can often occur and go unnoticed for weeks and even months. When you do notice water damage, the most important thing is to act quickly and start taking steps to address the damage. Often you may want to try and address the damage yourself, but professional restoration services may be required in the case of severe water damage.
Types of water damage
- From leaky roofs
Leaky roofs allow water to get into your home which can cause significant damage. Aging roofs or roofs with significant damage can result in water deterioration. In fact, many older or damaged roofs may seem fine until a particularly heavy rainfall or snow.
- Faulty pipes
Broken or faulty pipes can damage your home through a slow leak, a sudden gush or a combination of the two. Often broken pipes will become apparent quickly, such as when the toilet or sink pipes back up. However, broken pipes can also cause problems that develop slowly.
Condensation is one of the most common causes of water damage in both older and newer homes. It occurs when air conditioning units leak or malfunction or aren’t properly drained. Over time, condensation can penetrate walls, ceilings, and floors and lead to mold.
Classifications of water damage
Water damage can be classified into one of four classes that indicate the level of damage to the property.
Class 1 water damage
Class 1 damage occurs when minimal water absorption has occurred. Highly porus materials are only present in 5% or less of the impacted space. The water is potable and uncontaminated and the origin of the damage is often from clean water. With this type of damage, the area will dry with minimal evaporation once the water is removed.
Class 2 water damage
Class 2 water damage occurs when 5-40% of the materials in the impacted space are porous. This type of damage commonly occurs after a burst or broken pipe. The amount of time required to remove it and evaporate it is greatly increased when compared to Class 1 water damage.
Class 3 water damage
Class 3 water damage is determined when porous materials comprise more than 40% of the impacted area. This type of damage may occur if a water main breaks or if a home is leaking from storm damage or flood water. Evaporation in this class is time consuming and significant water absorption has likely occurred.
Class 4 water damage
Class 4 water damage is the most severe and occurs when water is deeply absorbed into non-porous materials such as plaster, wood, and concrete. It is often caused by flooding and can involve time-consuming, complex, and expensive water removal.
Types of water
As its name suggests, “clean” water comes from rain, condensation, and leaky pipes. It is relatively harmless to clean it up yourself or you can also seek professional help if necessary.
Gray water is slightly dirty water that may come from dishwashers, washing machines, clean toilets, and so on. You can clean it up yourself, but you should ensure that you are wearing proper protective gear to stay safe from any contaminants.
Black water contains waste, bacteria, and other serious contaminants. It is the most dangerous type of water and you should avoid contact with it. You shouldn’t try to clean this up yourself as it can lead to dangerous health issues.
How does water damage happen?
Just like the name suggests, water damage happens when water is exposed to your home. Often, it occurs when a problem goes unnoticed. Sometimes it may take weeks or even months for the damage to show up.
Why is water damage bad?
Water damage can easily ruin your carpets, ceilings and furniture, but most importantly, it can destroy irreplaceable personal items such as family possessions, important documents and other important belongings. In particular, water damage can disrupt your routine if you have to vacate your home during repair. The good news is that the faster you act on water damage, the better the chances you have of your belongings being able to be saved or restored.
The health concerns associated with water damage can be significant and long-lasting. Mold and bacteria growth are prominent health concerns, but water destruction can also attract pests and cause the air quality to deteriorate.
Dangerous mold spores such as black mold, pink mold, and Aspergillus mold can pose significant health risks.
Pest and bug infestation
Many pests love moisture and can be attracted by water damage and cause further damage to your home.
How to identify the type of damage
Identifying the type of water damage will depend on where it is in your home. For example, foundation water damage will look different from damage such as warped wood floors or ceiling stains.
Wood floor water damage
Since wood absorbs water, kitchen floors are susceptible to water damage.
Water stains are most likely to happen if you have a roof leak. The most likely area to get stained is the ceilings or the upper areas of the walls.
Drywall and foundation water damage
Other signs of foundation damage
Water damage can cause structural damage and lead to your home becoming inhospitable and leave you unable to live in it.
Sewage cleanup may be required when toilets or sinks are backed up. Sewage spills can result in the seepage of toxic black water or gray water which may be contaminated by human, animal, or biological waste. Sewage cleanup is a messy job that can also pose a health risk and should only be completed by a trained professional.
First steps you should take
If you’re waiting for a restoration company to arrive, there are a few key immediate actions you should take while you are waiting.
- Turn off electricity in the affected areas - only if you’re able to do this safely
- Stop the leak at the water source
- Assess, take photos, and document the damage
- Check for mold growth
- Remove any possessions or valuables that can be saved
- Contact your insurance company to confirm policy coverage
- Perform water removal by draining standing water if possible
- Start drying out your home
Steps to fixing water damage
When it comes to repairing water damage, time is key. Wet materials can start developing mold quickly so it is essential to strike while the iron is hot.
- Clean the area
The important first step to fixing water damage is to give the area a good clean. Use a gentle soap and water with a damp cloth and then allow the area to dry fully.
- Scrape away any flaking paint
Remove all flaking or peeling paint with a scraper to smooth out the surface.
- Cover water damaged area with a peel-stop or sealer binder
Peel-stop acts as a glue that permeates the porous surface, preventing water from seeping back through. This makes the surface solid again and protects it from future water damage. After you have applied the Peel-Stop, allow for an hour of drying time.
- Apply filler
Applying filler allows you to ensure that the surface is ready for painting. For best results, give this step a full day of drying time. You can use a hairdryer to help speed up the process.
- Sand the surface
Once the filler is dry, sand the surface until it’s smooth and ready to be painted on.
- Apply water-based primer/sealer
Applying a water based primer or sealer will ensure that the wall is perfectly prepped for applying paint. It is usually used for gyprock surfaces.
- Apply paint
Once the surface is properly prepared, you can apply the paint. You can spruce up your walls with a new shade of paint, resting assured that your walls are now protected from water damage.
Professional restoration services
Many homeowners try to complete restoration themselves before realising how extensive the requirements are. Professional restoration services may include: thoroughly drying carpets, replacing drywall and other building materials, fixing structural damage, or using industrial equipment to deep clean.
How can I prevent water damage?
Although there are plenty of ways to repair water damage, it is a good idea to do your best to prevent water damage from happening in the first place. It’s also important to regularly inspect pipes and pumps and have them replaced as soon as possible if they are faulty or damaged. Restoration professionals can help with replacing pumps and ensuring your home is protected against water damage.