Water damage can be a sneaky thing. Even after you’ve mopped up a pesky spill from your leaky washing machine outlet pipe, you can never be too sure that some water didn’t sneak under a baseboard, into the kitchen cupboards, or under the fridge, to lie there quietly gathering spores until – gasp! – mold starts to appear as if from nowhere.
Mold requires three conditions to thrive: food for the mold spores (e.g. dust), warmth (which is why mold proliferates in warmer climes), and moisture.
Eliminating any one of these conditions may be enough to reduce or eliminate new mold growth, and regular cleaning and maintaining a satisfactory level of ventilation is usually enough to cover the first two conditions.
Moisture can come from any of three primary sources:
- Sewer or water backup: When water is pushed into your home through the pipes from sewer or drainage systems. This can be caused by blockage of a municipal sanitary main, aging sewer systems, or tree roots.
- Overflow or discharge: When water escapes or overflows from appliances, pipes or water outlets in your home, such as an overflowing bathtub or washing machine.
- Flood: When the level of water outside your home rises to a point where it enters your home.
Your household insurance policy deals with each scenario differently, so remember to accurately record any instance of water damage, take photos, and report it immediately to your insurance company. Remember that your policy usually only covers sudden and accidental water damage, not damage as a result of poor maintenance.
Liability for water damage can come from a number of sources. Common sources of water damage are leaking dishwashers, blocked toilets, damaged dishwasher hoses, overflowing washing machines, rusted or damaged pipes, leaking roofs, plumbing leaks, and cracks in home foundations. Floods, heavy snow, and heavy rain are other possible causes of this type of damage and can lead to having water in basements.
It is a safe assumption that prevention is always better than cure. Spotting water damage early is critical to limit the costs of repair. Here are some tips to make sure you don’t have to call a plumber or water damage restoration company:
- Ensure proper ventilation in areas where moisture accumulates, such as the bathroom, kitchen, and cupboards. Install extractor fans if necessary.
- When you go on vacation, make sure to shut off the water supply to your home to prevent water damage from unexpected leaks.
- If there has been extensive water damage to carpets, wallpaper, or flooring, it may be cheaper in the long run to replace items rather than to clean. The health hazards of regular exposure to mold spores can be scary.
- Make sure to repair any loose or cracked tiles in your shower and to fix any damaged grouting every six months.
- Regularly inspect all sinks, toilets, and dishwashers for any signs of leakage or corrosion. Make sure to also examine appliance hoses and plumbing fittings for breakage or bending.
- Double check the connection to your washing machine and avoid overtightening clamps. Always leave a small gap (between 7cm and 10cm) behind the washing machine to prevent hose kinks. Check and clean regularly behind appliances and large pieces of furniture. If necessary, raise appliances off the floor, especially in areas prone to minor flooding or water damage – this helps with ventilation.
- Keep an eye on your monthly water bill. If you receive a water bill that is unusually high, for no apparent reason, there may be a water leak somewhere on your property.
- Clean out roof gutters on a regular basis, and check that the drains aren’t blocked with leaves and twigs. If your gutters are too high, call in the help of a professional to assist you.
- Make sure to inspect your roof for any cracks or breaks and have these repaired as soon as possible.
- Inspect your outside walls, windows, and doors for any unusual wear and tear. Repair and replace caulk, glazing, weather stripping, and door seals if needed.
Jade Emily runs a blog by the very same name at www.jadeemily.com.au, Visit her there to find your new source of inspiration for everything around the topics of design, style, health, and beauty.