Causes of Water Damage
in the Home


The experts here at Water Restoration Guide know that if homeowners were aware in advance of some of these more common causes of water damage, they could take precautionary steps and hopefully avoid many of the causes. Water damage is responsible for 45 percent of all property damage in the United States. The majority of homeowners are not prepared for a water loss. While many homeowners have fire and smoke detectors in their homes, very few have any type of early-warning water leak detectors.

In addition, knowing some of these common causes of water damage may help you to recognize that a problem is beginning and then take steps to head off a possibly even larger problem before it occurs.

causes of water damageWater damaged ceiling tiles

Burst or Leaking Pipes

Burst or leaking pipes and water supply lines are the number one cause of non-weather-related water losses in residential homes. The water in the supply lines in your home is under pressure, usually about 50 pounds per square inch, and if a pipe or pipe fitting leaks, the water will spray out with substantial force. If this pipe is exposed, not contained inside a wall, it is easy to discover. However, if the pipe is inside a wall, it could leak or spray for quite a while before it is found.

A one-half inch water pipe can deliver 50 gallons of water per minute. If the pipe was completely broken in two, or if it slipped out of its fitting, it could dump 3000 gallons of water into your home in just one hour. What if this happened while you were at work, or at the grocery store? Can you imagine the damage it would cause? It’s hard to determine the amount of water that might escape from a small leak, but suffice to say, the amount of damage and the cost of repairs could add up quickly.

Water Heater Problems

leaking hot water heaterHot water heater and mold damage

Hot water heaters are another source of water damage in homes. They tend to go bad a few years before their manufacturers claim they will. If you have a water heater that is more than 6-7 years old, you should consider replacing it. The tanks corrode over time and they may begin to leak, or they can burst. If they do burst, you suddenly have 40 or more gallons of water running across the floor. Bursting is sometimes better than if they leak slowly. Slow leaks often develop into mold problems before they are finally discovered.

Household Appliances and Water Damage

We’ve mentioned hot water heaters but most people don’t consider a water heater to be a household appliance. There are water heaters that mount under a kitchen sink or vanity. These can also rupture and release water.

The refrigerator icemaker can also cause significant water damage. Sometimes the unit inside the refrigerator goes bad, but most of the time the problem is with the small water line that supplies the icemaker. The line can get crimped when the refrigerator is moved or the fitting on the line might give way.

Everyone who has owned a washing machine for very long knows that the hot and cold water supply lines can burst as they age. You should replace the original supply lines that came with the washing machine right away. Rubber hoses become brittle and may break when you are not around. Replace the rubber hoses with braided stainless steel supply lines. They may eventually leak but they usually don’t burst. In just one hour a ruptured washing machine supply line can add 500 gallons of water to your laundry room. And don’t forget the supply line on your steam dryer, if you own one.

And then there is the dishwasher. Supply lines can leak or break on these as well. Another problem with dishwashers is their drain lines. A dishwasher drain line is much smaller than the drain in your kitchen sink. Always rinse as much food off of your dishes before loading them into the dishwasher to lessen the chance of clogging the dishwasher drain line.

Air conditioners also cause a lot of water damages to homes. If the A/C unit is a window-mount, not having it angled properly will cause water to build up in the unit and roll back into your home. The air conditioner that is part of your HVAC system has a condensation line on it. Sometimes this line will clog with dust and dirt and cause water to damage your home. This isn’t usually a problem until those hot summer days arrive when the unit is running for extended periods of time.

Sump Pump Failures

If your home has a belowground level room or basement, you probably have a sump pump. During heavy rains, water enters the sump pump from around your home’s foundation and is pumped outside. If this pump goes out, you have a problem. It is wise to test your sump pump every so often by dumping a bucket of water into the pit to see if the pump starts up and removes the water.

Clogged Gutters and Downspouts

gutters and downspouts

If your gutters or downspouts are clogged with debris the rainwater will overflow the gutters and build up around the outside of your home’s foundation. As pressure from the water increases, the water will force its way into the house damaging drywall, flooring, and your possessions.

Blocked Drains

Tree roots and children’s toys have been known to cause blocked drain lines. Tree roots seek water sources and drain lines are prime targets. Once every year or two you should have a drain cleaner run an auger through your main drain line. We mention children’s toys because we have seen many instances where inquisitive children are fascinated by the things that can be flushed down toilets.

Natural Disasters

Water damage as a result of flooding happens more often than you would think. Consider this; 7 out of every 10 presidentially-declared disasters are flood-related. Of the 14 weather and climate disasters in the United States in 2019, 11 were the result of storms and floods. The floods in Missouri, Arkansas and the Mississippi River basin cost $20 billion. Insurance coverage for floods is usually not covered by standard homeowner insurance policies.

Improper Drainage

Water damage can be a result of not making sure that water flows away from your home. Downspout lines need to direct water far enough away from your home so that it doesn’t collect around your foundation. The same can be said for the grading of flowerbeds and such. The ground should be sloped so that water doesn’t pool up against the foundation.

Water Damage Assistance

If you experience water damage in your home, you can get immediate 24-hour information and assistance by calling 877-960-0491. You will be connected to a certified water damage expert in your area that can answer your questions and come to your home to view any damage. Their initial inspection and estimate are free, and without obligation.





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