There are many ways through which water damage can occur in your home. No matter how solidly built and well maintained your house is, if water damage occurs and is not checked and repaired right away, you may be in for an unpleasant - and maybe even expensive - surprise.
Water damage doesn't always necessarily come from flooding. Even a simple rainfall or snowfall causing a leak somewhere can cause water damage. It is important that you inspect your house and find where the water damage is, how it was cause, and how you can fix it.
A roof that needs repair
Over time a roof can wear out, break, rust, or even fall off. Leaks can occur in penetrations on the roof such as the chimney, a plumbing vent, an exhaust fan, a skylight, or on the joints. Whenracks or holes develop on these, water from the rain can seep in. Old shingles that are coming off can curl and crack, allowing moisture to come in. Flat roofs or those with low pitches are also more susceptible to water damage because this kind of roofing does not drain as quickly as those with a higher pitch. When water accumulates on a flat roof, you are not only in risk of a water leak but also of the entire roof caving in because of the weight of the water.
Problems with the gutter or downspout
When your gutter - that trough placed under or along the eaves that catches the water from the roof - is clogged, rainwater can travel up into the roof under the shingles, or could overflow and travel down the inside of the wall. If your house has two stories and your second story gutter has been constructed to drain onto the first floor gutter, the first floor gutter can overflow. Another possible cause is if you've got a big roof and there are not enough downspouts. When a strong rain comes on, the lack of downspouts can cause your gutters to overflow. Yet another cause of water damage is when your downspouts don't empty far way enough from your foundation walls. This can lead to the damage of your foundation wall and water leaking into your basement.
Buildup of ice dams
When it snows and your attic does not have adequate insulation or ventilation, heat from the attic can escape and melt the ice on the roof. This turns the ice into a block of ice that blocks the flow of water, hence the term "ice dam." Ice dams can force the moisture to back up under the roof shingles, and thus the moisture will drip into your attic or down through your walls. A clogged or frozen gutter could also act like an ice dam and push moisture under the shingles and into your house.
Damage on soffits or fascias
Soffits are the horizontal surfaces on the underside of your roof, while fascia boards are the vertical roof trim sections or flat boards in between moldings. When either of these are damaged, snow or rain can blow or creep into the attic, and will destroy the insulation, ceilings, and walls.
Weep holes clogging
A weep hole is a hole on your retaining wall or exterior masonry that allows moisture to move outside your house or building and evaporate. Some houses have weep holes; others don't. When the weep hole gets clogged or frozen, the moisture in these holes can back up inside the wall cavity and travel down your interior walls.
Backup of water due to landscape changes
If you've recently had your garden landscaped and the way it was done resulted in water flowing towards your foundation rather than away from it, water damage could result. Automatic sprinklers that spray water onto or too close to your foundation walls could also result in water seeping inside your walls. If your house is newly built and the landscape had been graded improperly,
Damaged window or door flashing and seals
A flashing is a sheet of metal that is used to reinforce and weatherproof the joints of a house's roof, windows and doors. When the flashing of your doors or windows is cracked, torn, or if the seals around them have worn down, moisture from the wind, especially when it is raining or snowing, can penetrate your house. Weatherstrips, those thin strips of metal, felt or wood used to cover joints to keep out drafts and the rain - that have worn down can also do the same. Improperly installed windows and doors - ones that don't fit properly can also allow moisture into your interior walls.
Collection of groundwater or rainwater
During the wet seasons, groundwater or rainwater can collect along your foundation wall or beneath the floor or slab. It left this way and not drained away with a sump pump or swept towards the drainage, moisture can lead to the water damage as well as the growth of unwanted organisms.
Slow leaking from faulty plumbing
This is a very common but often ignored problem. If the plumbing fixture in your dishwasher, sink disposal unit, toilet, sink, water heater, shower, that tub, or clothes washer develops a leak, this can go undetected and eventually cause water damage. If any of your appliances has plumbing that goes through a wall, leaks inside the wall may not be noticed until extensive water damage has been done. Water line leaks, from kitchen appliances such as refrigerators or dishwashers, may also develop water line leaks. Your kitchen backsplash is another possible source of water damage. If the seal on the backsplash is worn out or a tile is cracked, water can seep into the wall and also into the wood under the countertop. If your drains clog, water can back up into the house. The mere thought water coming out of the floor drain or the kitchen sink overflowing is definitely not pleasant. If your water heater has a leak or fails suddenly one day, you can have a flood right inside your house or basement.
Condensation forming on windows, pipes and inside walls
When it is hot outside but cold inside or vice versa, condensation forms as a result of the meeting of the two opposing temperatures. Condensation on your window sills can cause damage to the wood, and the moisture can cause water damage to your walls and floors too. When condensation forms on uninsulated pipes, it can leak and even travel away from the original source and accumulate there, causing undetected water damage. Condensation an also form on improperly built walls, and result in serious water damage, aside from the formation of molds.
Lack of maintenance of heating and air conditioning systems
Heaters and air conditioning systems require maintenance such as regular cleaning. If this is not done, your drain pans may get clogged, cooling coils could freeze, and the result would be water leaks and your unit not heating up or cooling properly. Air conditioning filters also have to be changed and cleaned regularly, otherwise the system could get clogged due to the dust and cause water damage. One other consequence would be the formation of molds and other biological growth Moist and dusty heating and cooling systems are fertile breeding grounds for mold.
Lack of maintenance of sump pump
If you have a sump pump that you rarely use and you fail to test it regularly, when a flood or snowstorm comes and you need it you'll definitely have a problem. Besides the pump possibly being useless because it doesn't work properly, the water rising in your basement, if left unattended, could get worse. It is also possible to overload a sump pump, especially when the drainage in your property is poor. If you're finding that you need to use your sump pump frequently to drain water out of your basement, chances are there may be an excessive water buildup under your basement floor. This buildup may be due to poor drainage, gutter backflow, poor landscaping, and other problems. If flooding in your basement is a perennial problem, it would be a good idea to have a backup sump pump so that in case your first one fails, you have an extra unit to drain the water out with.
Water damage may have either visible or invisible causes. Water damage caused by visible causes refers to those that you can see straightaway just by looking at the item or particular part of your house. Invisible causes, on the other hand, are those that are not easily visible to the eye, and are usually hidden behind walls or insulation. Water damage can cause harm - to your health and your wallet. It is important that you know what the possible causes of water damage are - there are many - and repair them before they get worse.
Some water damages may not be covered by your insurance policy. It's a good idea to review your policy and know what is covered, so that if and when water damage occurs in your home you know what your out-of-pocket expenses will be. If you know what the causes of water damage are and can make the necessary repairs to your house to avoid these, you can protect your home from damage and in the process also keep yourself and your family healthy.