What Does Water Damage Do to Your Home?

Brushes, rubber gloves, and cleaning supplies to clean a home for the holidays

Even a small amount of water in the wrong place can be devastating. Whether it is a burst pipe, a slow leak at a fixture, or a major flood, visible water damage starts almost immediately. Within hours, wood flooring warps, the carpet becomes discolored, drywall begins to bulge, and a host of other issues emerge.

What is more damaging, however, is the unseen issues that linger after the initial incident. Mold and fungi begin to grow within days and often can’t be seen. Most times, it is hidden in the walls or underneath the flooring. Left untreated, you could be facing serious health issues.

Below, we’ll discuss how water damage occurs and what to do if you experience a flood or leak in your home.

What Can Water Damage Do?

Water can damage anything in its path. What’s more, the destruction can happen within a matter of hours. So often, we associate this type of destruction with a flood or a bathtub, toilet, or sink overflowing. However, it doesn’t take a major, visible flow to set off an unfortunate chain of events.

Even the smallest amount of moisture can get underneath the floors or behind cabinetry and wreak havoc. It is these small and often overlooked leaks that can cause even more problems. Because you don’t see them, these little leaks tend to linger and go untreated. By the time you realize there is a problem, the damage is already done. By then, you are facing serious damage to the flooring, drywall and other nearby areas.

Visible Damage is Immediate

It doesn’t take long to begin to see the destruction after a flood or leak. Within an hour, the carpet becomes soggy and the water seeps into the carpet pad. Wood flooring begins to buckle as the moisture seeps through to the subfloor.

Furniture is no match for moisture either, no matter how well protected. Fabric sofas and chairs can become discolored and stain the carpet. Wood furniture will swell and warp if left in standing water.

Any moisture that has leaked through a ceiling or a wall will destroy drywall and insulation. The wallpaper will peel, and the paint will begin to blister.

Brushes, rubber gloves, and cleaning supplies to clean a home for the holidays
Brushes, rubber gloves, and cleaning supplies to clean a home for the holidays

Hidden Dangers of Water Damage

When moisture seeps into the walls, however, more than just your drywall is in danger. Excess water can make your home structurally unsound and can even lead to health problems.

Structural Issues

Moisture and wood don’t mix. The framing on your home was not meant to withstand any form of moisture. The excess water causes wood framing to swell and warp, which could affect your home’s structural integrity.

Health and Safety Risks

Proper cleaning after a flood or any leak is extremely important. If you don’t clean the area properly, you may begin to experience more than just a cosmetic nuisance. Without proper cleaning, fungus and mold can start to grow within a matter of days. A strong, musty odor is a sure indication of this problem.

Mold and fungi are hazardous to your health. Excess fungi can lead to a skin rash, fungal meningitis and other types of infections. Anyone in your home who has allergies may notice an increase in symptoms such as coughing, sneezing or watery eyes.

How to Prevent Water Damage

Given the significant problems moisture can cause, prevention is key to protecting your home. While you may not be able to avoid the problem altogether, there are steps you can take to minimize your water damage risk.

Sealing the Basement

Flooding in the basement is a common occurrence. Sealing the basement can protect the area from too much moisture. The process involves applying a waterproofing sealant to the walls and the floor. You can also install drains, and sump pumps to minimize water damage risk

Perform Regular Inspections

Observation goes a long way towards spotting things that may increase water damage risk. Perform regular inspections of your home. Check to ensure the water drains away from the house so that it doesn’t seep into the soil and make its way into the foundation or the basement.

Next, inspect the sprinklers and irrigation system. Take care to ensure that all sprinkler heads are pointing away from the house. Between mowing, kids playing on the lawn and everyday activity, your sprinkler heads may get turned in the wrong direction.

Check the water spigots and make sure they are completely off to prevent moisture from dripping and leaking down the side of the house.

Other areas to address to minimize water damage risk are windows and doors. Windows and doors are easy access points for moisture. That is why it is crucial to caulk and seal around the edges. The caulking seals the gaps and prevents moisture from seeping into the house.

Inspect your roof regularly. Even a small hole can lead to a leak that you may not notice until you begin to see spots on the ceiling.

Proper Storage Techniques

There are also several things you can do to protect your personal items inside the home. Store off-season items in waterproof bins. Keep things off the floor in the garage or the basement.

What to Do if You Spot Water Damage

Safety is the number one priority when addressing water damage. You will want to protect people, pets, and property from harm. Follow the below procedures as soon as you notice a problem.

Identify the Source

First, find the source of the problem and do what you can to stop the leak. If the problem is at a sink, toilet or tub, simply turn the water off at the source. If that doesn’t help, you may need to locate the main shutoff valve to stop the leak. The location for the valve varies in each home. However, some common places to find it include the basement, crawlspace or near the foundation.

Clear the Area

Next, disconnect the power and unplug electronics. Remove all items from the room so that you have a clear area with which to work. Depending on how severe the problem is, you should remove all porous materials, including the carpet.

Dry the Area

After that, you’ll want to get up as much standing water as possible. Next, dry out the area using fans and a dehumidifier. You don’t want to skip this step. There could still be moisture in the walls and underneath the carpet. Using fans will help completely dry the areas that you can’t see.

Disinfect the Area

Once you are sure that everything is dry. Disinfect the area to get rid of any bacteria and germs that may have come up through the sewer lines. You can make a home solution of vinegar and water, or you can buy a disinfectant at a local store.

Contact Your Insurance Agency

Contact your insurance agency right away to start a claim. The insurance company will want to know the extent of the problem. They may send an agent to examine things. They may also want to work directly with your contractor to determine repair costs.

Brushes, rubber gloves, and cleaning supplies to clean a home for the holidays

Why You Should Hire a Professional Cleaning Company

Cleaning up after a flood or a leak can be a tough job. Removing affected items, drying the area, disinfecting, and making repairs take time. Not only that, it must be done correctly to prevent further issues.

The best way to ensure a thorough job is to hire a professional water damage restoration company.


As mentioned earlier, it is the unseen problems that can cause the most problems. Due to the health hazard that mold presents, extra care must be taken in handling things. Professionals will have the proper equipment and tools to address the problem safely.

Damage Evaluation

Not all evidence of water damage is visible. Attempting to clean up without identifying all trouble spots only leads to further problems. A professional restoration company knows how to spot additional problems in the walls, flooring or other areas.

Quick and Effective

Time is of the essence when dealing with a flood or a leak. Professionals have industrial equipment that works more efficiently than consumer products. As a result, professionals can deal with problems quickly and can help avoid further issues.

A flood or leak can be devastating, especially when the damage isn’t always apparent. That is why it is so important to take steps to minimize your water damage risks. But when issues do arise, it is important to act quickly to avoid further issues.

With over 30 years of experience, we’ve got the experience and expertise to make sure your home is safe after any water damage event. Schedule an appointment with us today for any water damage restoration and mold remediation needs.