Top 4 Causes of (and Fixes For) In-Home Water Damage

  • Written by: Killingsworth Environmental
  • January 24, 2019

In-Home Water Damage Causes and Fixes

“You have water damage” is one of those phrases that, as homeowners, we never, ever, ever want to hear. And what’s more, water damage can lead to even bigger problems like mold and mildew growth. Luckily, there’s a way to stop water damage before it starts and that’s by identifying the source. Below are four causes of water damage and how to fix them.

1. Leaky pipes

Pipes can leak for all different reasons–clogging, damaged pipe joints, excess water pressure, intruding tree roots, loose water connectors, rapid temperature changes–you name it. And because pipes run throughout our entire homes, a leak can cause damage virtually anywhere. Because of this, how you fix a leaky pipe will depend on its location in the home.

If you’ve found a leaky pipe that you have ample access to, follow these eight steps to repair the leak.

  1. Shut off the valve to the pipe
  2. Turn on the faucets to let the rest of the water in the pipes drain out
  3. Wipe the pipe dry
  4. Use a putty knife to apply epoxy on the leak
  5. Cover the leak with rubber
  6. Tighten a clamp down on the rubber and let it set for one hour
  7. Use water resistant tape to cover the rubber after it’s dried (for double protection)
  8. Turn the valve back on and make sure the leak is gone

Unfortunately the majority of the pipes in our homes are inside the walls, making them impossible to see. This means you might have a leaky pipe long before you can stop it from causing damage. In this case, it’s important to know the signs of broken pipes that you can’t actually see. Signs that your pipes are leaking include rumbling noises, unpleasant odor, clanging or grinding and a notably higher water bill.

If you think you have a pipe problem that needs professional attention, get in touch with a local expert as soon as possible.

2. Poorly-Functioning Gutters

Gutters are meant to allow water to flow from your roof and away from your home. But when gutters are clogged or overflowing, they can actually cause water to flow into your home. Improperly functioning gutters can cause water damage to your home in three ways.

One:  If your gutters are clogged, the overflowing water will start flowing onto your siding and can eventually seep into the exterior walls of your home.

Two: Overflowing gutters will saturate the ground with the water that runs out of them. After some of time, these pools of water can penetrate cracks or holes in the ground and seep into the foundation.

Three: Gutters that are clogged with heavy amounts of debris can begin to weigh down and eventually break off of the home, detaching from the roof fascia and allowing water to flow from the roof into the attic.

Anything that keeps your gutters from working properly is a threat to your home in terms of water damage. It’s recommended that homeowners clean their gutters at least twice a year to ensure they’re working properly and, as a result, save time and money in the future by eliminating the possibility of damage to the home.

3. Faulty Appliances

Appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines make households bearable–but only when they’re working properly. Because these appliances use gallons and gallons of water, they can cause the most significant water damage in a home. Let’s take a look at each and appliance and how to avoid possible damage with each.

Refrigerator

A common cause of water damage from refrigerators is through a clogged defrost drain. When a refrigerator has a defrost feature, the appliance comes with a defrost drain that extends to a drip pan beneath the fridge. Luckily, a clog in the defrost drain is an easy fix. Simply thaw the ice, run hot water through the pipe and you’re done.

Another cause of water damage from refrigerators is through the water supply line. A water supply line is routed from the kitchen sink water line and is used to create ice in the ice maker. If this line is loose, it will begin to leak. In this case, you can either replace the line or re-secure the connection.

Because refrigerators are so large, our view of the pipes and hoses that flow from the back of it are blocked. Meaning it’s difficult to tell if your fridge is leaking water. Because of this, it’s important to check behind your fridge every few months to ensure everything is working properly.

Dishwasher

Dishwashers that are over nine years old are likely to start causing some issues in terms of water. Hoses, valves and switches are plumbing connections in your dishwasher that, if not working properly, will cause water from the dishwasher to leak out onto your floor.

A few ways that your dishwasher could cause water damage is by a worn out seal on the door, a leaking drain line, a broken door latch and most commonly, a busted hose.

If you notice your dishwasher is making noises, not cleaning your dishes efficiently or–most obviously–is leaking water onto your floor, you might have a broken hose. If it’s time for a new hose, consider purchasing a steel-braided one rather than one made of plastic. It’s longer lasting and better for the environment!

Washing machines

According to Whirpool.com, washing machines use about 13 gallons of water per wash–that’s a lot of water. Which means, if your washer is leaking even a little bit, that could cause some serious water damage to your home.

Leaks from washing machines, like our other appliances, almost always come from the hose. A small break in the hose during installation, poor connection to the washing machine or wall and aging are all factors in a washing machine leak.

To fix a leaky hose, you should first identify where the leak is originating from. You can do this by turning on the washer and looking for where the hose is dripping. Once you’ve identified the leak, turn off the water and unscrew the hose. You’ll then need to replace the hose or contact a specialist to help you install a new one.

4. HVAC Issues

Because most homeowners have their systems running almost 100% of the time, it’s important to take the time to check for any issues on a regular basis. Something as little as too much dust in the air filter could be enough to cause extra condensation throughout the home. Some tips for avoiding HVAC issues are:

  • Change your HVAC filter at least once a month: This keeps your system from overworking, which can cause wear and tear on the evaporator coils, leading to water damage.
  • Install a condensation pump: This will help excess water flow into the correct disposal drain, rather than into your home.
  • Reduce elbow connection angles: The condensation line of your AC unit should be as straight as possible to avoid any water leakage. If you’re currently using 90-degree angles, consider replacing them with 45-degree angles instead.
  • Clean the line every 3 months: Cleaning the inside of the line will clear out any debris which tend to cause more condensation.
  • Check the opening and exit: When your AC unit is running, check the opening to make sure the water is flowing to the drain. The higher the humidity level in the house, the more water you’ll see.

Not only can an HVAC leak cause unnecessary water damage, that extra water and condensation can also foster mold and mildew growth. Once mold begins to grow in your HVAC system, it contaminates the air of the home which can lead to respiratory issues and other health problems.

Be Prepared

Mold and mildew growth can start as a small issue and move into a much bigger one quickly–so it’s important to be informed and aware. Our Ultimate Guide to Mold & Mil-dews and Don’ts is full of prevention and treatment tips for mold and mildew growth in the home.

To learn more about our services or to schedule an inspection, get in touch with one of our specialists today.

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