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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

What are the signs of old and new water damage and what causes them?

4/11/2022 (Permalink)

By regularly inspecting these points of origin, homeowners can ensure that the water damage does not get out of hand.

Distinguish between old and new water damage

Water damage causes costs of $2.5 billion every year, with an average water damage insurance claim of $6,965. It is important to be able to detect water damage threats early on to avoid massive repair costs. SERVPRO, a water damage restoration company, shares the signs of old and new water damage and the common causes of the same.

The following techniques can be used by homeowners to assess the age of the water damage to a home so water damage restoration experts have some idea of what they need to work with. 

  1. Touch the Spot: Inspect the house for water damage by touching the spots. If, for example, a drywall feels damp it is new water damage but if it is squishy and soft, it is a sign of old water damage. The drywall has been absorbing the moisture for a long time and it has taken its toll on the integrity of the wall. 
  2. Search for Rings: Hidden water damage will discolor drywall, ceiling panels, and other house materials. A discolored spot with rings is a sign of old water damage. This is because when the water damage is new, it will eventually dry out and leave a stain. When the same spot leaks again, it will permeate the material and leave another spot when it dries. This process leaves rings on the damaged area. The more rings, the older the damage. 
  3. Examine the Different Materials: Different materials respond differently to water. Check the tiles and thick paint on walls or ceiling. Even a small water spot could mean that the water has been trapped within them for a long time. Discolored spots that have recently been damaged by water will be damp but will still seem strong and sturdy. However, certain materials may have a higher saturation point and may have absorbed much more moisture before it becomes visible to the naked eye. Materials such as wood may absorb lots of water before the homeowner spots the water damage. So materials that have been absorbing moisture for long will start breaking down and lose their structural integrity. 
  4. Inspect for Any Mold: Mold spores start growing after consistent water damage for 2 to 3 days. Mold growth indicates the water damage has been around for a few days.
  5. Look Out for Decay: Household materials do not decay due to recent water damage. Any decay on walls or ceilings indicates that the materials have been consistently exposed to standing water or flooding. Decay is a sign of old water damage.

Common culprits of water damage in homes include severe weather such as thunderstorms and hurricanes; clogged gutters; leaking pipes; condensation from HVAC; blocked drains; washing machine supply line leak; and leaking water heater. 

By regularly inspecting these points of origin, homeowners can ensure that the water damage does not get out of hand. The distinction between old and new water damage can also indicate to homeowners the extent of the damage to their homes and in best-case scenarios avoid them altogether. 

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