Water damage prevention tips for homeowners

Running water in our homes and businesses is one of the greatest conveniences ever engineered and yet when water damage happens it is also one of the greatest interruptions to our lives and work. We wrote a helpful article about the three key questions you will want to ask before you file an insurance claim. If you are experiencing a water or fire damage in your home for the first time, please let us know if this resource was helpful.

A few quick facts about water damage in your home

  • A sheet of drywall standing upright with its edge sitting in a ½” of water can wick water up to 6 inches in less than three hours.

  • Immediate response to an active moisture intrusion is essential as microbial growth (aka mold) can begin to grow, in the right conditions, within 24 to 48 hours

According to Simsol, “If your standard half-inch pipe breaks on the way to work, nine hours later you can have up to 27,000 gallons pass through your property.” They note that the average water flow rates based on typical municipal water lines:

  • ½-inch pipe: 50 gallons per minute

  • ¾-inch pipe: 110 gallons per minute

  • 1-inch pipe: 210 gallons per minute

  • 4-inch pipe: 3,400 gallons per minute

The importance of immediate response to water damage

Water damage response should be completed by trained professionals. The terminology you will often hear from water damage specialists is mitigation. Once you notice a water leak or signs of damage, you want to do what you can to reduce the severity (mitigate) those effects. Common steps in water damage response include:

  • Extraction of standing water in the home

  • Addressing the source of the loss and/or leaking

  • Determining the extent of the water damage

  • Installing air movers and dehumidifiers to start the drying process

  • Drying may require removal of some materials such as carpet pad, baseboards, and even drywall. Additional removal may be necessary and should be discussed with your contractor and your insurance company.

  • Monitoring and adjusting equipment to confirm the drying strategy is working

Most companies providing assistance for water damage extraction and mitigation will have training and certification for those specialized services. The industry standard for appropriate measures when addressing an emergency water or flood response are outlined in the ANSI/IICRC S500 which identifies three categories of water:

Category One (CAT 1) water damage

  • Sometimes this is referred to as “clean” water.

  • Water from a category one source is reported to have no substantial risk of causing sickness or discomfort.

  • Examples of CAT 1 water damage sources include water from a broken water supply pipe or an overflowing bathtub.

Category Two (CAT 2) water damage

  • You may have heard someone use the term “grey” water.

  • Water from a category two source has a significant degree of chemical, biological, and/or physical contamination.

  • Examples of CAT 2 water damage include water from aquariums, dishwasher or clothes washer leaks, and water entering the structure from below grade.

  • Category One water that remains untreated in a structure for more than 24 hours will become Category Two.

Category Three (CAT 3) water damage

  • Many people refer to this, incorrectly, as “black” water.

  • Water from a category three source emerges from a grossly unsanitary source and/or is likely to be carrying disease causing agents.

  • Examples of CAT 3 water damage include discharges from sewer or septic systems/pipes and ground/flood waters.

  • Category One water that remains untreated in a structure for more than 48 hours becomes Category Three.

  • Category Two water that remains untreated in a structure for more than 24 hours becomes Category Three.

Water damage prevention tips for homeowners

  • Inspect water heaters to spot any leaking pipes or damage to the unit before it becomes a larger issue. Ensure your unit has "hurricane straps" securing it to the structure and that there is a properly installed overflow pan.

  • Inspect water shut off valves and sink drains for signs of damage or leaking. Check with a local plumber on how often these should be inspected and/or replaced.

  • Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts as clogged or overflowing gutters can lead to moisture penetration into your home. Ensure your gutters drain away from your home.

  • Know where your main water shut off is so that you can reduce the extent of water leakage in the even of a pipe break or overflow.

  • Inspect and maintain roofing, check with a local roofer on how often your roof should be serviced and/or replaced.

  • Dishwashers and ice maker lines for refrigerators can be the victims of small leaks that could lead to big problems. You may want to periodically remove the face plate from the bottom of your dishwasher and pull out your refrigerator to inspect for signs of leaking.

After the water damage has been mitigated

Restoration Contractors will often provide a free evaluation of your home. By using non-penetrating and/or penetrating moisture meters, thermal cameras, and their experiences, a good water damage specialist can assist you to identify the extent of a water damage in your home and provide you with a rough order of magnitude (ROM) for the scope of work. While All American Restoration Services (AARES) does not perform drying services, we can assist you in locating a quality local company to assist you in addressing your mitigation needs. We are ready to be of service to assist you in restoring your home to pre-loss conditions once the drying of the structure has been completed.

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