Super Storm Sandy is still in the news, along with stories and pictures of homes ruined by the unprecedented storm surge and resulting flooding the storm caused along the coast of the northeastern United States.
Property owners affected by the storm are dealing with water damage on a massive scale. But, according to Steve Leger, executive VP of Operations for PuroClean, a leading property management restoration company, the dangers from water damage are not limited to storms of that scale.
In fact, two common household appliances in any home cause one in every 10 water damage claims, and cause more damage overall than fires.
Faulty hot water heaters and washing machines are the culprits. The recent trend of installing washing machines on the upper floors of homes has increased the potential for these appliances to cause significant damage to the living spaces of a home if a leak develops, according to Leger.
In addition to taking steps to control water damage caused by weather-related sources like snow, heavy rain and floods, property owners need to be vigilant about everyday sources of leaks and dampness that can damage walls and provide the conditions for mold to grow. Leger points out these possible additional trouble spots:
Plumbing: Visible plumbing leaks caused by loose pipe joints or hose attachments are easy to spot and fix. Less obvious are plumbing leaks inside the wall.
Tip: Landlords can confirm a suspected wall leak by securely taping foil or plastic wrap over the suspect spot on the wall, waiting a few days, and removing and checking the inside surface of the wrap. If moisture has formed, there may be a leak behind the wall.
Pipes: Similar to other plumbing leaks, clogged toilets and drains, blocked garbage disposals and rusted pipes can cause leaks and resulting damage. In exposed pipes in colder areas, the water may freeze and expand, causing the pipe to burst.
Tip: If this is a hazard in your area, insulate exposed pipes or keep a bit of water running through them in the winter.
Heating and Air Conditioning Systems: Faulty air intake or return design in duct systems for both heating and air conditioning systems can draw moist outside air through walls, causing the potential for water damage in the walls.
Tip: This moisture can mix with mold spores in the air, introducing another costly and dangerous source of damage — indoor mold.
Attics: Warm interior air leaking into the attic and mixing with cooler air can cause condensation to form on the underside of the roof, leading to roof and interior wall damage and potential mold growth.
Tip: Seal around recessed light fixtures, holes where pipes and wires pass into the attic, drafty attic access points, and exhaust fans that vent into the attic.