Water damage is among the most common effects of flooding or leakage, making it a leading cause of home insurance claims every year. While it paves the way for toxic mold growth and is a risk to your personal belongings, the biggest threat is posed to the home’s foundation and structure.
If water damage is not timely addressed, it will undermine the structural integrity of the property, significantly reducing its resale value. In this guide, we’ll take a look at how water damage weakens your home:
How Water Damages the Foundation
Moisture damage to the foundation occurs in several ways. It’s important to understand here that foundation damage itself is either structural or non-structural.
Structural damage occurs when exposure to water is extensive and prolonged. As the situation exacerbates, the home starts to shift under its own weight. The structure tends to sink further in the ground, and the vertical stability is often undermined. Plus, as the basement walls become structurally unsound, they may begin flexing inward.
Non-structural moisture damage, on the other hand, occurs when water seeps through any cracks that exist in the foundation or gaps in the basement wall joints.
Understandably, the former is more problematic than the latter that normally occurs in the case of severe storms or tornadoes or when water leakages go undetected for longer periods.
How Water Damages Your Walls
When it comes to water-led structural issues, you can’t ignore walls. Depending on the complexity of the problem, water can wick up through the drywall and distort its appearance and cause structural issues inside it. Alarmingly, water can wick up the walls by 1 inch an hour. This means that if water damage remains unaddressed for a single day, it can rise as far up on the wall as 2 feet.
Once water damage invades your drywall, it may lead to warping and buckling. This is the most destructive end to water damage. The main ingredient of the drywall, gypsum, easily absorbs moisture and gets heavier as a result. The extensive moisture saturates the drywall, causing it to collapse under its own weight. If your ceiling is made of drywall, the same can happen to it, and you certainly don’t want your ceiling to collapse, do you?
How Water Damages Wood Paneling
If you think you’re totally safe with wood paneling instead of drywall, you’re probably misinformed. Although wood paneling is not vulnerable to buckling, it can sustain damage. This is particularly true when the wood is not treated to prevent rotting. Many people prefer decorative lumber. From an aesthetic viewpoint, untreated lumber looks better than treated lumber.
Also, lumber is highly susceptible to issues associated with appearance, such as discoloration. In other words, a wet wood wall is faced with more issues related to appearance than structural issues. Yet, they can cost just as much to fix as the drywall.
How Water Damages the Flooring
Moisture damage on floors means more than just warping and stains. Unaddressed water damage can lead to bigger problems, regardless of the type of flooring you have. We’ll now take a look at how water damage affects some of the common types of flooring used at homes:
If your area is prone to flooding, you should not be using carpeted floors. It tends to absorb water easily and creates a breeding ground for mold underneath. When affected by water damage, carpets can only be recovered in rare cases. If not immediately dried, they’ll become unsalvageable and will need to be replaced. In other cases, you need not replace the carpet itself, but the carpet padding underneath will need to be replaced.
It’s true that hardwood flooring adds tremendous value to your home, avoid using it in areas that are high in moisture. Since wood doesn’t get along well with water, you won’t likely see hardwood floors in a bathroom or kitchen.
When hardwood flooring is subject to water damage, you’ll notice bulging, warping, splitting, cracking, and soft spots on the surface. Water stains may also cause the hardwood to get darker. It often requires a lot of work to remove these stains.
Water damage will not directly damage the tiles but will wash out the grout that holds them in place. This may cause the tiles to lift up, allowing water to seep underneath and paving the way for mold infestation. The type of material used in the tile plays a key role here. Certain materials, such as porcelain, are more water-resistant and stronger than others, such as ceramic. However, the former happens to be more expensive.
A rating system is used to determine how much water-resistant tile materials. Based on how much water they absorb, the materials are classified into one of these four categories:
- Impervious: Highly water-resistant; absorb not more than 0.5% of water.
- Vitreous: Fairly water-resistant; absorbs between 0.5% and 3% of water.
- Semi-vitreous: Absorbs between 3% and 7% of water.
- Non-vitreous: Least water-resistant; absorbs more than 7% of water.
Using non-vitreous or semi-vitreous materials in areas prone to flooding can lead to serious issues. For the best defense against moisture damage, consider impervious or vitreous tiles.
To sum it up, water damage is more complicated than most of us think. You probably already knew about the visible problems of water damage and the increased water bills that result from untracked water leakages. This guide took you deeper into the structural problems caused by moisture damage. You should now have a clear idea about how water damage weakens your home.
Based on what you’ve read in this article about the impact of water damage on home foundations, walls, floors, etc. If you feel that your home structure is affected by moisture damage, seek professional restoration services.
Restoration 1 of Middle Tennessee is here to address all types of water damage you might be faced with. Serving in Middle Tennessee and beyond with our rapid response team, it is determined we are here to protect your home or business property from structural and other issues.