Health Hazards Associated with Water Damage

roof water damageMore than 40 percent of all home insurance claims are due to water damage. Water leaks from U.S homes exceed one trillion gallons each year. Statistics indicate that about 14,000 Americans experience some form of water damage every day. These incidents can lead to property damage, mold growth, and life-threatening diseases. Common causes include plumbing failure, natural disasters, and freezing pipes. What most homeowners don’t know is that water damage can be prevented.

What Are the Health Effects of Water Damage?

Water damage is the second most common cause of property losses. Every year, homeowners spend tens of thousands of dollars to fix the damage caused by frozen pipes, leaky roofs, and insulation problems. A water-damaged building poses serious health risks, so it’s important to learn to protect yourself from the mold and chemicals released during a flood and other natural disasters.

The most common hazards of water damage include respiratory tract infections, mold infestation, and allergies. A wet environment promotes mold growth, which can worsen asthma symptoms and cause bronchitis, runny nose, cough, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, eczema, and allergic rhinitis. Studies have found a direct link between mold exposure and asthma, pneumonia and other respiratory problems.

Mold can put your life in danger and compromise your immune system, causing severe allergic reactions and even death. The spores build up in your lungs, leading to fatal complications. As you walk through the water, you won’t be able to see mold and pathogens. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Depending on the type of water damage, you might be exposed to dangerous chemicals, fungi, and bacteria. For instance, exposure to gray and black water may lead to rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and migraines. The worst part is that you can spread the spores and bacteria around your house as you clean.

How to Protect Your Home from Water Damage

It’s no doubt that water damage poses serious health risks. The presence of moisture allows bacteria and mold to grow and spread around your home. It may also contribute to infestations of cockroaches, dust mites, and rodents. The good news is that you can prevent water damage or at least reduce its harmful effects by taking basic precautions.
For example, installing an automatic water leak detection and shut-off system can help prevent over 93 percent of incidents.

One of the best ways to protect your home from water damage is to have a plumber inspect your water heater, toilet, and pipes regularly. If the plumbing system is leaking or making noises, seek professional help immediately. Install a backwater valve and clear out gutters on a regular basis.

In case of flooding, use a moist detector to test the moisture content of studs. Take the time to dry the walls and floors properly. Use non-phosphate detergents to prevent and kill molds. Remove all wet insulation and carpeting as quickly as possible. Porous materials should be thrown out because they absorb water and promote mold growth. If you detect mold in your home, call a professional cleaning company.

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