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Top 10 Sources of Water Damage In a Home

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Most homeowners will face possible water damage in their home at some point. Just think of all the appliances that use water, like dishwashers, HVAC systems, washing machines, refrigerators, water heaters and indoor plumbing are the more apparent culprits of water damage in a home.

What about the less obvious ways a home can suffer water damage? Things like a chimney leak, cracks in brick, window leaks or roof leaks are not covered by insurance and are easy to spot if you are looking for them but can sneak in water damage if you do not find them first.

To put your wondering minds at ease, I created a list of the top 10 sources of water damage in a home as well as how to address them, what to look for, and why.

Top 10 Sources of Water Damage In a Home

Whether it is a minor issue that is fixed right away or a hidden problem that took awhile to notice, we are here to help. Leak detection is our specialty. We have seen it all.

1. Appliance Failure

Washing machines do not have internal leaks, to prevent external leaks one should upgrade the water hose to a braided steel reinforced hose. If you discover dripping near the connection on the wall, it should be addressed. There is a drain to catch this water, but it is better to solve the problem than allowing it to persist.

A water heater should be maintained every couple of years by draining it as manufacturers recommend to prevent a catastrophic flooding in your home.

2. Plumbing Failure

  • Sinks, tubs, toilets – Toilets have a few opportunities to leak one being the tank. If you notice drops of water on the floor, you most likely have a leaking tank or spud washer the piece between the tank and the toilet.

Do not overlook this, because if it fails while you are gone the tank will continue to fail and flood your home quickly.

  • Tubs – when they leak on the second floor it is detectable by a water stain on the ceiling of the first floor.
  • Sinks – if you notice any water or water damage under the sink you might have a leak that is active when the sink is in use.

All plumbing has ventilation pipes that run to the roof through the attic. The roof vent stacks should be checked and maintained because like the pipes in your wall you cannot see them and water in your wall is a more significant problem.

During the winter be sure to open sink cabinets a crack and run the water slightly to prevent pipes from freezing and potentially bursting, especially on exterior walls.

3. Roof Damage

Many things can make your roof leak, flashing on transitional walls is a common cause as well as flashing around fireplace structures. If those are installed properly, they should never leak, however, it needs to be visually inspected to be sure it was done correctly.

Penetrations such as vent stacks need to be maintained about every five years because the rubber gasket around the pipe degrades from UV rays causing it to get brittle and crack.

Penetrations such as skylights would be a flashing issue that if done right should not need maintenance.

Improper installation of shingles will put nails in areas that will leak and is a common problem. The only way to discover that is to lift tabs and see if they were nailed in the proper place.

4. Unsealed Windows

The inferior material is the root problem of ongoing maintenance around your windows. When substandard materials fail, not only do the windows leak, but it will create cracks in your brick and mortar.

It is relatively common to see lentils left wide open as well. A lentil is the piece of steel over some not all windows that have brick and mortar above the window.

If these are properly addressed with the proper material, there should not be in the lifetime of the home need to maintain them again.

5. Brick And Mortar Cracks And Voids

Brick and mortar cracks are a symptom of a problem. People usually think of foundation; however, water intrusion is a more significant source of mortar and brick failure.

A quick way to tell the difference would be to look for cracks in the footing wall beneath the lowest level of brick and blown out corners. This would indicate a foundation issue.

Cracks around windows and doors usually starting at the uppermost part or lentil height and trailing down would be indications of water intrusion issues. Both of these should be addressed because the cracks and voids allow more water to get behind the brick worsening the problem.

6. Improper Grading Of The Ground By Foundation

When looking at your patio, if you see that the patio is lower than the yard then the ground around your home is improperly graded.

Ponding is another visual clue that your yard is not properly graded. Water should be able to flow away from the home easily.

These issues can be fixed by having the grading of your home changed or by installing a French drain or a mechanical sump pump which is the least desirable. If your electricity goes out and you do not have the pump connected to a generator, then the pump will not run.

Oversized gutters can also be a solution to divert water out of the area because you can take it from the back of your house and pipe it to the front of your house.

7. HVAC Equipment Failure

HVAC Equipment drains typically into an internal plumbing drain pipe; you should never see water dripping outside of your home. Not only can this create an ugly rust spot on everything, but it is also a signal your main drain is clogged.

The pan beneath your HVAC system and the pipe that lead to the exterior of your home are for emergency drainage only. Water in those systems should warrant an immediate call to get your main drain cleared.

8. Natural Causes

Ice, heavy rains, trees falling over, hail damage, and floods can all cause water damage to your home. Trees and hail can damage shingles and decking on the roof creating an entry point for water to get in and do unseen damage.

During extremely cold weather ice dams can potentially form in low points on your roof trapping water. Cold weather can also be damaging because any water that has gotten behind the brick of your home can freeze and expand causing even further damage by creating, even more, entry points for water.

9. Doors

Doors can be especially troublesome if on second and third stories when exposed to weather. This is due to doors that are purchased today will leak when you put a power washer near them.

You can usually find damage on a second story door by pulling the carpet back and seeing watermarks on the floor or rusty tack strips.

There are upgrades that can be installed to a door to help with this, but there is only one sure solution to keep water away from the door, and that is a storm door.

10. Lack of Home Maintenance

Even the best-built home has to be maintained. This is a chore that everyone hates to do, but it is essential to keeping your house in one piece.

The most significant thing that needs maintenance yet often overlooked is cleaning out the gutters, and the gutter drains.

Along with this, it is important to visually inspect your roof for gaskets on vent stacks and shingles that are out of place, checking the flashing to make sure everything is closed up properly weak spots in the decking.

Checking to make sure that windows and doors are properly buttoned up.

Solutions For Water Damage In a Home

We offer permanent solutions for these problems. As stated before cracked bricks and mortar voids are symptoms of water intrusion that should be addressed.

All of this comes down to the homeowner noticing things that are out of place and seeking out a professional for leak repair, to not only look at the problem but come and repair it. The sooner you address a possible issue, the better it is for your home and pocketbook.

Feel free to give me a call. We are always happy to help you find and fix a crack or leak!

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