The most common spots for home water damage

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Home water damage FAQs

  1. The most common causes of water damage are broken or leaky pipes, excess humidity, roof leaks, ice dams and finally, floods.
  2. The most common places to find water damage? Bathrooms, kitchens, basements, roofs, windows, major appliances…view the list below.
  3. Fixing the leak and remediating the damage will help reduce mold and mildew build-up which otherwise can cause allergies and breathing problems.

Water damage can affect your home’s structural integrity and lead to issues like mold growth. Recognizing the signs of trouble and taking swift action preserves your property value and protects your household’s health. It’s also less expensive to address minor issues than to let them fester into huge problems. Insurance agents, share this helpful guide about the signs of home water damage and where it occurs most often.

Water, water everywhere — where does it all come from? More importantly, how can you stem the tide? Prevention is usually best, although you may be able to DIY minor fixes while preventing bigger problems. Here are the answers to some common home water damage questions.

What are the most common causes of water damage? 

Home water damage can occur from storms or floodwaters. However, although climate change has worsened flood disasters by 56%, these events remain relatively rare. Other causes of water damage are more preventable.

For example, using a dehumidifier in hot, humid weather can reduce condensation on windows and walls. Insulating pipes in cold regions prevents bursting; monitoring your use of aging appliances safeguards against leaks. Also, simple gutter cleaning lowers the risk of water seeping into your attic or walls.

Related: 8 common home safety hazards and fixes

What are the biggest concerns with water damage?   

Mold and mildew growth have serious impacts on human health. Black mold, in particular, is most hazardous to people with respiratory conditions or weakened immune systems, causing the following symptoms:

  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Nasal congestion and postnasal drip
  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Increased asthma symptoms, including wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness

Another concern is property destruction. Water damage can warp walls and ceilings, cause paint and wallpaper to peel, spark electrical fires within walls, and eventually cause the structure to crumble if neglected long enough.

How much does it cost to remedy home water damage? 

The cost of remediating home water damage varies based on its extent and severity — a good reason to check for leaks monthly and take immediate action if you detect trouble.

How long does it take to address water damage? 

Minor fixes may take minutes to hours, but larger DIY repairs could take several days to weeks. Some projects may be too large for you to repair — unless you’re spackling a hole in the drywall, you may want to call a professional.

Related: Home renovation safety tips

8 common places to find home water damage 

As a homeowner, you’ll want to avoid unnecessary damage-related expenses as often as possible. Keeping a list of these eight common places to check for water in your home is wise.

1. Bathrooms 

The bathroom is an obvious place to spot water — all the pipes make it prime territory for leaks. Low pressure can signal buildup or corrosion in your plumbing, leading to burst pipes and flooding. However, check beneath your sinks first — a leak in a visible pipe might be a relatively easy DIY project. Cleaning your fixtures is also a good first step to improve flow.

The nastiest cause of water damage in bathrooms is overflowing toilets. Prevent clogs using only approved toilet tissue because even wipes labeled biodegradable can create issues. Never flush hair, feminine hygiene products, diapers or cat litter. If clogs occur anyway, the problem may lie in your rooftop trap or the pipes leading to the sewer.

2. Kitchen 

Kitchens have much of the same water damage risks as bathrooms. Remain aware of the territory beneath your sink — it should be dry, not damp. Pay attention to leaky faucets and repair or replace the fixture right away. Allowing it to drip is money down the drain and wastes a precious resource.

Many sink leaks stem from worn seals and washers. Others arise from having to recoat the faucet’s threads with petroleum jelly. These fixes are relatively easy to DIY and should be your first line of action before calling the plumber. Of course, book an appointment if your remedies fail to address the leak.

3. Basements and Crawl Spaces 

Does your basement fill with water after heavy rainfall? If so, the issue could stem from multiple causes, including the following:

Watery basements and crawl spaces foster mold growth, so discover and address the underlying causes, reaching out for professional help when necessary. Foundation and pipe problems only worsen when ignored, which leads to costly damages.

Related: Flood preparedness and recovery for homeowners

4. Windows and walls 

Condensation primarily causes water damage along windows and walls, although cracks can also admit moisture. Of course, the greatest danger is an electrical fire, which may destroy your home. Furthermore, poorly insulated windows wreak havoc on your energy efficiency, resulting in spending more money and damaging the planet.

5. Roofs 

Keeping your gutters clean is essential to preventing roof leaks. When they overflow with leaves and debris, water will seep anywhere it can, including your interior walls.

While on the ladder, you can also inspect for broken tiles or shingles around flashing, chimneys, and joints. Replace any damaged materials quickly and check the area beneath for signs of water damage.

6. Major appliances  

Refrigerators with built-in water and ice dispensers that have a line from the wall to the device can leak or burst, resulting in a flood. Keep an eye on the hosing, replacing it when it grows stiff and inflexible.

Other typical suspects include your washing machine and dishwasher. Improper or worn connectors and hoses can easily break, resulting in water damage. Regularly inspect aging parts, replacing them and upgrading to new appliances when necessary.

7. HVAC systems  

If your air conditioner sits atop your roof, it can cause extensive home water damage if not maintained. It may leak into your basement if placed alongside your home. Clogged drains, frozen evaporator coils and leaky pipes can release a flood. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended inspection and maintenance schedule.

8. Outdoor hoses  

Ensure you empty and disconnect any outdoor hoses before winter freezes. Otherwise, the water can damage the pipework around the fixture, causing water damage in and around your home. Drain and store your hoses well before the first risk of frost.

Remember these common places for home water damage

Water damage can reduce your property value and create health hazards for you and your loved ones. A quick inspection catches minor issues before they balloon into major disasters. Revisit this checklist to keep a closer eye on your home and health.