When water leaks are caught in time, there are rarely any problems beyond just a wet mess to clean up and minor repairs. When leaks are not caught and repaired the damage can be extensive and Mark Powers, the SERVPRO Avila Beach water damage specialist, has released a report about the problems that happen when leaks, standing water, even toilet overflows are not taken care of as soon as possible.
• Water damage includes property loss due to rotted wood, rust, wet electrical wiring, warped wood such as floors, doors and windows, decayed drywall, loss of carpets, drapery and upholstered furniture, loss of other property that was exposed to water, mold, and mildew, unpleasant odors and even structural damage that needs to be repaired.
• Mold and mildew thrive in damp, wet environments. Mold spores are everywhere. When their environment is dry, the spores are dormant but exposure to moisture causes mold to grow within 24 to 48 hours, literally eating whatever it is growing on. Hungry mold in the company of water-soaked materials speeds up the deterioration process. In addition, mold and mildew can cause allergic symptoms and respiratory ailments in people and animals that are exposed. Some molds, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, commonly known as "black mold produce mycotoxins. Exposure to high levels of mycotixins can lead to neurological problems and sometimes even death.
• Pathogens found in wastewater, or "black water" commonly from sewage backups, or storm floods that have damaged sewage lines and allowed black water into the floodwaters, are harmful. The pathogens commonly found in black water include Salmonella, E. Coli, Pseudomonas, Shigella, Vibrio, Mycobacterium, Clostridium, Leptospira, Yersinia, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, intestinal worms and more. Even a simple toilet overflow is going to spread pathogens, although not necessarily to the degree of a sewer back up. However, a toilet that leaks or repeatedly overflows is spreading a certain level of pathogens. If the toilet has been leaking due to a crack in the porcelain or a failed seal for some time, those pathogens are going to build up in the flooring and walls.
The best way to prevent water damage is to regularly inspect areas where leaks might go undetected, remove any standing water around building foundations, including under the building, replace leaking faucets immediately, repair leaking pipes, and dry out any damp spots as soon as they are found.
Landscape watering is a common contributor to water that pools around foundations and under buildings. Change the watering direction, or even the plants, to eliminate standing water.