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Water Damage: Causes, Types, Health Hazards, and Restoration

Updated on June 5, 2016
The result of water damage.
The result of water damage. | Source

Introduction

There has been a lot of issues pertaining to water damage. It can cause the destruction of your appliances, furniture, gadgets and even your important papers. It is a serious problem because most of the damages it causes cannot be repaired. Trying to fix something that was damaged by water can be pretty expensive and could take much time; hence, an immediate action is necessary.

Keep in mind that the longer the things get soak in the water, the faster they corrode and are destroyed. Thus, it has a lesser chance to survive or be fixed. Fortunately, there are already a lot of cleanup and restoration companies nowadays that offer services such as cleaning up areas, repairing things, and other concerns damaged by water. Availing of water damage restoration services can save you time, money and effort.

The Causes

Water damage can be caused by facility malfunctions or problems.

These include pipe leakages, clogged toilets, broken dishwashers, washing machine overflows, gutter leaks, leaked ceiling and groundwater that seeps into your basement. Most of the leakage is attributed to plumbing leaks; it does not only result to damages but also a waste of thousands of gallons of water.

Not only that, it is also caused by environmental lapses such as rain and flood. Catastrophes like these causes more damage to your valuables, especially to wooden furniture or surfaces because molds can grow, which will gradually destroy the entire surface. Just take for instance the water damage in Michigan and other areas in the US whenever there are storms, hurricanes, and other flooding.

Flooded homes.
Flooded homes.

The Types

Water may sound harmless but not until you know what it contains. Water also has its own cautious side; that is why you should let a water damage restoration company to do the work. There are three types of water damage, which is categorized from the less harmful to the most harmful.

Clean Water

The first type is called clean water. The water from rainfall that enter your house, leaking pipe or broken appliance is considered clean water. This is because there are no harmful chemicals and substances incorporated in it that can harm humans. Harm may rise when leakages are not immediately fixed for it will grow molds and fungi on its surface. The things that are usually affected by clean water damage are floors, walls and carpets.

Greywater

The second type is the greywater or graywater. It is called greywater or sullage because of its source; this is mostly caused by clean water that has been left untreated. 50-80% of gray water comes from our home’s wastewaters. These are used water from sinks, bathtub, dishwasher and showers. They have microorganisms that are obviously dirty, but do not include those coming from your toilets.

This is a type of water, which may contain grease, hair, and even food. It is commonly reused for irrigation or for toilet flushing because it has lesser number of pathogens than domestic wastewater. Also, reusing gray water for certain purposes can save the need for clean water.

Black Water

The third type is known as the black water. This is the most harmful and gruesome type of water; you might throw up when you are exposed to this type of water. This unsanitary water comes from sewage systems, flood, toilet with feces and stagnant water that already has bacterial growth. From its sources, we should know that this is a risk to a person’s health; thus, you extremely need trained water damage maintenance to fix this kind of problem.

Clean, gray or black, the color does not serve as the basis of how clean the water is. This calls for the help of water damage professionals for they have the appropriate tools and equipment on how to deal with the damage the water causes.

The Classes

There are classes of wreckages or damages as to which the water caused; it is divided into four. They are based on the type of materials affected, the area that was flooded and how wet the affected materials were. Based on these, the water damage experts together with its men can determine what equipment will be used and how much will it cost.

Class 1 – Slow Rate of Evaporation. There is a minimum moisture absorbed by the materials. It only affects a small portion of a room.

Class 2 – Fast Rate of Evaporation. It affects the entire room and may include carpets and other forms of cushion. The water may be absorbed up to the walls not going more than 24 inches.

Class 3 – Fastest Rate of Evaporation. Water affects all areas like the entire walls, ceilings, carpets, insulations and whatever things that are present in the area. This requires heavy extraction of water.

Class 4 – Specialty Drying Situations. Involves materials with a very low permeance/porosity like concrete surfaces, plasters and etc.

The Restoration

There are SOP’s in water damage restoration. Certain ways should be followed to neatly and orderly restore an area or a thing. Inspections should be made to evaluate how much damage has been done. With this, if you cannot fix it yourself or if the damage is too vast, then you should call for help from the experts. The water should be extracted or drained as soon as possible to prevent further damages.

Water damage experts have the equipment in drying the area with remaining moisture and to reach those that are harder to access. After that, the affected area should be sanitized because bacteria disseminate more quickly on humid areas and to take in mind materials soaked in water for an ample amount of time can have an unpleasant smell. Your water damage restoration company shall restore your house as what it was before the water damage occurred.

Common Diseases Related to Water-Damage & Mold Exposure
bronchial asthma
allergic rhinitis
allergic conjunctivitis
allergic fungal sinusitis
hive or urticaria
hypersensitivity pneumonitis

The Health Risks

Health is wealth as what we all know. In the case of water damage, the main health related issue is about the molds and fungi that grow on surfaces.

After restoring the affected area, some may think that the discoloration that occurs on their walls or any other surfaces are just normal. These discolorations are caused by the molds spreading on your walls or ceiling.

Molds can be noticed by our naked eye and there is this foul smell that you can notice when molds are infesting your house. So you also need to consider mold removal.

Certain types of fungi may also grow on the surfaces of your house and may harm your health. You may develop allergies involving fungi and mold exposure. Some of the diseases that concerns molds and fungi are hay fever, allergic fungal sinusitis, bronchial asthma, allergic rhinitis and etc.

Aside from molds and fungi, dust mites may also infest your house. Given that the dried wooden furniture, floor or ceiling is not as strong as it will be before the water damage, dust mites are more likely to live in those frail wooden areas.

Conclusion

It is important to let the water damage cleanup and restoration companies take care of the affected areas because they know those safety features that you might be missing when you do it yourself. Wearing gloves and protective gears such as water resistant boots and long sleeved shirts and pants can help you prevent contamination from the sickening water and molds.

You might need to contact a water damage expert now! Check out this video and see if this IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) certified, licensed, insured, and highly recommended professionals can help with your residential or commercial property.

What do you think is the typical cause of water damage among homeowners?

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