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What Happens When You Don’t Repair Water Damage?

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Every homeowner should know the damage water can do. The thing is, sometimes you experience damage that seems minor, perhaps even contained, and you may think that it can be ignored. We, at West Coast Fire and Water, have seen this many times, and we know ignoring any water damage often leads to bigger problems. So, to encourage homeowners and landlords never to ignore water damage again, we have compiled a list of ten of some of the problems that can develop when water damage is left unaddressed.

1. Stains

This is the start of your problems. Stained ceiling panels, peeling paint and dirty, wet patches on your walls. Leave them, and they will not only dry there, but they will also become permanent. This will make cleaning and repair much more difficult at a later stage.

2. Mold and Mildew

Where there are stains (especially if the leak that caused the damage is left unattended) there will inevitably be mildew and mold. These are not simply unsightly and damaging to your home, they can also be very bad for your health.

3. Unpleasant Odors

You can spot a house that is affected by long-term water damage as soon as you walk in the door. That tell-tale, musty smell will hit your nostrils straightaway. This is usually linked to mold and mildew. You can try to cover it up. But, the only way to eliminate it completely is to take care of the damage itself.

4. Health Issues

Mold can cause problems for your family’s health. Respiratory problems can result from breathing in the spores produced by mold that grows after untreated water damage. Skin complaints are also common. If there are pre-existing conditions, then living or working in an environment in which mold or mildew is growing is likely to exacerbate them.

Some of the symptoms related to inhaling mold spores are nasal congestion, wheezing and tight chest, cough, throat irritation, and prolonged sneezing fits. Certain types of mold, such as the dreaded ‘black mold’ (stachybotrys chartarum), have been found to have even more serious effects on health. While there is not yet any scientific proof for these more serious symptoms are directly linked to ‘black mold’, there remains a risk that there is a connection. It is not a chance worth taking.

5. The Longer You Leave It, the More It Will Cost

Water damage can easily get worse and that can happen quite quickly. You may not think it looks like much now, but if you leave it, you may come back to find that it’s spreading fast. As it worsens and more damage is done, repair costs could increase, as there is more to fix. What could be quick and cheap to repair now, may become extremely costly and complicated later on. Long-term water damage can lead to the

very foundations of your home being threatened. This requires a major repair operation to restabilize the foundations, including eliminating the sources of the water, restoring the original level using hydraulic piers, and securing the basement walls with carbon fiber or steel straps. You may need to replace whole parts of your roof or do major repairs to walls. It really does not pay to wait.

6. Decreased Property Value

Maintaining your property’s value is a matter of both superficial and structural upkeep. Water damage causes problems in both respects. If your house is up for sale, a potential buyer will immediately be turned off by the odors and stains associated with water damage. On top of that, as we will discuss later, water damage could cause serious structural problems, threatening the integrity of the building itself. That’s a nightmare in terms of protecting your investment.

7. There Might Be Underlying Problems

Water damage may be a symptom of a much bigger problem. You can’t always tell what the underlying problem may be just by looking at the damage itself. You could be dealing with major plumbing issues or holes in your roof. The only way to tell is to get professionals in to repair the damage and trace the cause.

8. Electrical Damage

Obviously, water and electricity do not go well together. If you leave water damage, sooner or later, the point will come when the damp will make contact with your electrical circuit in some way. For instance, if you don’t clean up flood damage in your basement, it could really lead to disaster. Once water damage reaches your wiring, there is immediately an increased risk of fire. If wires are exposed, crossed or making any contact like they shouldn’t be, as well as being near enough to some kind of flammable material, you could very easily end up dealing with fire damage. It’s better to sort out the water damage so that this doesn’t happen.

Standing water or persistent damp combined with exposed wires can very easily lead to a risk of electrical shock, and this could lead to injury, even death. The water damage can also lead to further damage to your electrical circuit and its components. Wiring, sockets, and even appliances could all be irreparably damaged. You could also experience power surges. You may end up having to replace any number of costly items in your home.

9. Structural Damage

Your water damage may very well have caused deeper structural damage to your property already. If you are seeing cracks in the walls or foundations, you may have serious cause for concern.

When there is significant water damage in your home, you could find wooden parts of your structure warped and seriously weakened. This is not merely an aesthetic problem; you have wood in your ceilings and most likely have it in your walls too. The stability of these sub-structures depends very much on the strength and alignment of the

framework. Warping can cause this alignment to move out of place, which threatens the stability of the building as a whole.

Water can also degrade the various metals that are present in your home. This could include the ducts, for example, as well as any metal reinforcements you may have in various parts of the structure.

Essentially, all parts of fabrication and piping could be affected by the water damage. Most seriously, you could have water damage to your house’s foundations. While this could be structural or nonstructural, it’s bad news either way. When the damage is structural it means that it has been extensive and prolonged enough to affect the very foundation of the building. The structure may start to shift under its own weight and even subside into the ground. You may notice that the walls of your basement are starting to flex inward. At this point, there is probably severe structural damage that will need to be rectified – and that is not cheap! The longer you wait for professional intervention, the more involved and more costly the process is likely to be.

10. Insurance Implications

If you find yourself dealing with severe damage to your property, your home insurance policy should be able to help you cover the costs. However, if you’ve knowingly left water damage for too long and this comes to the insurance provider’s notice, you may struggle to make a claim. The insurance company will want to know why you waited so long to address the problem, and may even use it as a reason not to pay out on your claim.

Rather, avoid any of these problems and get the help of professional water damage experts, who can restore the damaged parts of your home to their pre-damage glory. Doing the necessary repairs now can also help prepare you for any future problems or enable you to avoid them entirely. The repair work will highlight any weaknesses. This will enable you to rectify them then and there, before they can cause any headaches.

The West Coast Fire and Water team can intervene at any point, whether the damage is minor or whether it is so severe that structural rescue is necessary. Call us in at an early stage so we can arrest the problem and save you money and hassle.

West Coast Fire and Water is a restoration and mitigation company serving Mendocino, Lake, Marin, and Sonoma counties. When it comes to water damage, we have done and seen it all. We can eliminate any sign of water damage, no matter how far gone it is. But, call us sooner rather than later! We are on call 24/7 to manage your water and fire damage emergencies.

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