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How Fast Can Water Cause Damage to Your Property

2024-07-05 15:59


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  • Water damage happens fast. When you need water damage restoration, call SERVPRO®

    The most powerful erosive force on the earth is water. Unfortunately, for home and business owners, it does not take much time for water to begin eroding and begin to cause structural damage. What appears to be a small leak could result in structural problems and safety hazards if not dealt with quickly. Knowing when and how to address water damage can help prevent extensive and costly damage to your property.  

    Common Signs of Water Damage 

    Water damage can cause structural problems to ceilings, floors, and walls when it is not addressed quickly. If you suspect water damage, here are common signs to watch out for when assessing potential water damage

    • Spiderwebbed and small hairline cracks 
    • Paint bubbles 
    • Flaking paint  
    • Peeling wallpaper 
    • Water stains and discoloration 
    • Musty odors 
    • Warped or sagging ceilings and walls 

    Common Reasons for Water Damage 

    From weather-related incidents to leaking pipes, water damage can have numerous causes. It is critical to understand the following primary causes of water damage to best prevent and lessen its effects: 

    • Appliance leaks and malfunctions 
    • Plumbing leaks and failures 
    • Poorly maintained or damaged roofs 
    • Poorly maintained air conditioning units 
    • Cracks in foundation walls and floors 
    • Inadequate draining systems and poor grading 
    • Natural Disasters and other weather-related events 
    • Overflowing and clogged gutters 
    • Poor ventilation leading to condensation 

    How Much Water Can Cause Damage? 

    In short, it doesn’t take much water to cause damage. The location, duration of exposure, and the materials affected all certainly come into play when determining how much water can cause extensive damage. For instance, a severe storm or burst pipe can cause immediate damage due to the amount of water affecting your property. However, a small, unnoticed leak or standing water can lead to substantial structural issues over time.  

    • Minor Damage is labeled as anything less than 1 inch of water. If left untreated, this small amount of water can cause staining on ceilings and walls and warping on wooden floors.  
    • Moderate Damage includes water that is 1-2 inches deep. Water intrusion at this level can escalate the damage significantly. It can saturate and damage insulation, drywall, and electrical systems.  
    • Significant Damage consists of 2 inches of water or more. Extensive flooding can result in costly and severe structural damage and electrical hazards.  

    Insurance companies place water damage into three categories. They are:   

    • Category 3 Water Damage: “Grossly unsanitary water containing pathogenic agents, arising from sewage or other contaminated water sources and having the likelihood of causing discomfort or sickness if consumed or exposed to humans.” Category 3 water damage is considered grossly contaminated. It may also be called “black water.”  
    • Category 2 Water Damage: “Water containing a significant degree of chemical, biological and/or physical contamination and having the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if consumed by or exposed to humans.” When listed as Category 2 water damage, the water is considered significantly contaminated since it contains microorganisms and nutrients for microorganisms. It may also be called “grey water.”  
    • Category 1 Water Damage: “Water originating from a source that does not pose substantial harm to humans. Category 1 water is also referred to as ‘clean water.’” In other words, this water is considered sanitary. 

    Can Water Damage Happen Suddenly? 

    The immediate effects of water exposure are within the first 24 hours. During this critical period, saturation can compromise the structural strength of flooring, walls, and ceilings. While visible damage may not be immediately apparent, addressing water exposure by removing standing water and initiating drying procedures is essential. The longer water remains stagnant, the greater the risk of structural deterioration and further damage to your property. 

    How Long Does It Take for Water to Cause Damage? 

    As stated above, it is essential to detect water exposure immediately to prevent water damage. The first 24 hours are critical, but here is a quick breakdown of the water damage timeline

    • 24 to 72 Hours: After that initial day, the impact grows significantly. Wooden elements and drywall can be impacted and warped, and metal surfaces may begin to corrode. An odor may be present, and it is essential to act before damages become more complicated and costly.  
    • After 3 Days: The consequences at this stage become more severe, and the damage may no longer be minimal. Act with urgency to dry everything affected and stop the leak to ensure the property’s stability and safety. 
    • After 7 Days: After a week of untreated water exposure, your property may be in critical condition. In this stage, the property can be a significant hazard as it may suffer extreme structural damage. Electrical systems, such as outlets and wiring, lead to safety concerns as they may be compromised.  Eventually, standing water can infiltrate a building’s foundation, and water contamination levels from flooding are a great concern. Standing water can compromise the structural integrity of a home, and it can be disastrous for any property’s insulation, ventilation, and air conditioning.  

    SERVPRO® Knows Water Damage 

    Water damage can have far-reaching consequences on your property, from compromising its structural integrity to reducing its market value. Understanding the risks can safeguard your investment and ensure a safe living environment, and SERVPRO is well-equipped with the knowledge and tools to protect and preserve your property.  

    Whether it’s a flooded basement or wall repair, SERVPRO incorporates advanced water damage extraction and inspection to find moisture and remove it from your property as quickly as possible. Our highly trained technicians will document and observe the overall drying and water removal extraction process to make your water damage "Like it never even happened." 

    For Water Damage, SERVPRO is Here to Help® 

    When water damage threatens your property, we are here for all of your cleanup and restoration needs. With 2250 locations in the United States and Canada, SERVPRO is always available to answer the phone and best assist you. We offer 24-hour emergency service to everyone, including holidays and weekends. Established in 1967, SERVPRO is proud to be a trusted leader in full-service cleanup, restoration, and construction. We are the #1 choice in fire and water cleanup and restoration*. We are always available with our 24-hour emergency services and Disaster Recover Teams. Whether you require help with water damage cleanup, mold damage remediation, odor removal, document restoration, or more, SERVPRO franchises are Here to Help®. Water damage cleanup and restoration can be daunting, but SERVPRO franchises are always up to the task and look forward to assisting you and restoring your property.  

    To learn more, visit our Water Damage Resources

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    *#1 Choice in cleanup & restoration based on Commercial and Residential Attitude & Usage Tracking studies. Polling 816 commercial business decision-makers and 1,550 homeowner decision-makers on first choice for future needs related to cleanup & restoration work. Studies conducted by C&R Research: Oct 2019 and Decision Analyst: Oct 2019.