Water damage can have a devastating impact on a home or business. It can also become a breeding ground for mould and bacteria which can cause health issues for anyone who comes into contact with it.

In this article we will take a look at some of the damage water can cause. Highlighting why it is important to deal with water damage quickly and the steps you can take to prevent or mitigate the damage.

The impact on people's health

One of the most devastating effects that water damage can have is its impact on people's health. Buildings and materials can be repaired and replaced, however people cannot. That’s not to say that if you have a leaking pipe then you and the people around you will suddenly become very ill. It does mean, however, that if water damage is not dealt with immediately and effectively it can quickly provide ideal conditions for the growth of mould, bacteria and parasites. Which can all have a detrimental effect on your health.

How quickly does mould grow? 

Mould can grow on a damp surface within 24 to 48 hours, the rate at which it grows is dependent on the surrounding environment. In warm conditions with little ventilation, mould can grow very quickly and increase at a rapid rate. If you discover mould, removing it is not as simple as giving it a quick clean with a household cleaner, as there is so much that cannot be seen by the naked eye. A professional cleaning company, like Flood Doctor, will be able to thoroughly clean the area and they are equipped with the tools to test for any mould spores still present.

mould growth after water damage to residential property
Mould growth found in a commercial property.

One of the most common effects on people's health are gastrointestinal infections, with symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. People may also experience a stuffy nose, wheezing, sore throat and eye and skin problems. Whilst none of these are necessarily life threatening, for the very young, elderly or those with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems, it can have a much more severe impact on their health.

There is greater risk if the water that has caused the damage was already contaminated, from a sewage back up for example. The type of water can be classed under 3 different categories.

Types of water

Clean water - water that is free from pathogens and bacteria, such as water from burst pipes or rainwater. Like any water, it can cause damage to your building. It is unlikely to cause any health issues if it is dealt with quickly. However, if clean water isn’t dealt with quickly, over time bacteria can grow making it a health hazard.

Grey water - wastewater that contains bacteria but has not been contaminated with faecal matter. This water can be harmful to both your health and your building.

Black water - water that contains raw sewage. This water is incredibly harmful to your health and your building.

Our blog post The dangers that lurk in sewage water gives further information on all of the nasty viruses, parasites and bacteria that can be found in sewage water.

Structural damage to buildings

One case of water damage can be drastically different to another. They can vary from the mild damage caused by a small leak to the substantial level of damage that can be caused by a large ingress of water into a property, such as a burst water tank.

Water, if it is left for long enough, can soak into virtually any material, including all types of flooring, skirting boards, stud walls, beams and joists. It will cause the materials to swell and warp or rot. Some of the damage can happen very quickly.

If materials that form the structure of your property become damaged it can impact the structural integrity of the building and can be very dangerous.

Flood Doctor can apply various types of advanced drying methods to deal with different types of water damage. These methods allow them to dry out wall cavities and under floors, limiting the amount of strip out works required. Our blog post Advanced Drying Methods Explained gives information on how each method is applied.

Damage to fixtures, fittings and personal items

Water can cause damage to the fixtures and fittings within your home, quickly making them unsalvageable, especially if the water is contaminated. Most items that come into contact with sewage water will need to be safely disposed of or taken for specialist cleaning. 

Water can damage personal items such as important documents and photos within seconds.

ingress of rainwater caused damaged ceiling
An ingress of rainwater in this residential property resulted in damage to their walls and ceiling.

Electrical damage

Water and electricity can be a deadly combination, in the event of an obvious ingress of water it is important to ensure your electricity is turned off, if it is safe to do so.

Water can cause damage to your electrical system, resulting in total loss of power or damage to the wiring. Damaged wiring can cause power surges which can damage any appliances that are plugged in.

How to help prevent or mitigate water damage in your property

As well as the impact water damage can have on your health and building, a history of water damage to a property can quickly devalue it.

It's important to regularly maintain your property to help to prevent problems at a later date. There are many ways in which you can protect your home from water damage. Here are some of them:

  • Regularly inspect and repair broken roof tiles or guttering. Gutters should be cleaned frequently to help prevent any blockages.
  • Any leaks in your property, however small, should be dealt with quickly. If you are unsure how to fix them then call in a plumber to ensure the work is done correctly.
  • Take note of any strange odours in your home. This could be the result of blocked pipes or water that has become trapped and turned stagnant, causing materials to rot or mould and bacteria to grow.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of water damage, such as damp patches, water stains or water rings. Water stains and rings show there has been a leak or an ingress of water which has dried out and left a stain. It could be that the problem has resolved itself, however it is advisable to get a professional in to understand what the issue was and if there is any damage other than the stains that needs to be repaired.

At Flood Doctor we carry out comprehensive Damp and Moisture Surveys. These identify the level of damp and moisture, what areas have been affected, what the cause is and how to rectify the damage.

If you are concerned about any water damage within your property, give Flood Doctor a call today on 0800 285 1447.