When homeowners see other people’s water damage catastrophes, they often think it will never happen to them. But being in the industry and seeing many different clients’ homes, we see some really crazy things. Here are a couple of the worst scenarios that I’ve ever seen, along with what you can do to prevent it from happening to you.
Mold-Caked Home in Franklin County
The ugliest case I’ve ever seen was with a client’s second home in Franklin County. It was a two story home that they didn’t really visit very often. The supply line under the faucet sink of their second floor master bathroom had come loose, and water had been pouring out for a month and a half. It was just continually dumping water into the entire home.
When I got there, it literally looked like a haunted house. They were starting the remediation process, and there was mold everywhere—you could see it completely covering the walls and floors. The hardwood floor in the kitchen was completely buckled, to the point that you could hardly walk on it. All of the water that had poured out eventually ended up as a pond of water in the basement. Everything in the house was ruined and water was even running out of the doors.
Quite a few antiques and valuables were messed up beyond repair. What surprised me the most was that everything in the house had turned black with mold. We actually had to put on a suit and respirator to go into the house. Something like this could happen very quickly, especially in a second home. It could have been prevented by simply turning the main water valve off, which would have only taken a couple of minutes. I’m sure it’s crystal clear to the homeowners now.
Large Home At Smith Mountain Lake
Probably one of the most expensive projects I’ve seen in terms of damage was in a large lake home here on Smith Mountain Lake. They had a shower upstairs, which was backed against an attic. Of course the attic was unconditioned, so when it got cold, the pipes in the wall froze and burst. This was a very affluent home with expensive flooring, cabinets, and tile. The homeowners discovered the catastrophe much more quickly than the last case, so there wasn’t mold growth. However, the water ended up leaking into the fancy kitchen below.
Unfortunately, water will follow the path of least resistance, which is out and down. It’s not going to pick and choose what it touches, so that means that the expensive kitchen cabinets were an inevitable casualty. When plumbing fixtures are right above a significant area like the kitchen, it can lead to a very, very expensive remediation job.
How to Prevent It from Happening to You
Even in your primary home, the situation can go south very quickly if you aren’t adequately prepared. One of the most important things to do is be aware of exactly where the main water valve is. Keep it accessible—if it’s in a storage room full of boxes, you might not be able to get to it without having to move lots of things around. Also, I recommend that it be tagged and marked so a neighbor or family friend can find it with minimal instruction. If it isn’t tagged, you might not be able to instruct someone unfamiliar with your home how to get access to it. If you’re leaving your primary residence, turn off the main water valve. It won’t hurt anything, and it will prevent a catastrophe while you’re away.
Next, the quickest way to turn off the water is directly in the area with the leak. Near all fixtures is an emergency shutoff valve. Under each sink and behind each toilet, you should be able to find the valves. If they don’t work for some reason, then you will have to resort to turning the main water line. If you’re going to be away from your home, make sure that a friend, family member, or neighbor can go and check them out.
Finally, don’t procrastinate if any maintenance needs to get done in your home. Replace any old or worn items. If something is broken, fix it before it leads to a much worse problem. If you wait, it just takes a moment for a burst to cause a lot of damage. You’ll regret not taking action sooner.
If you want to protect your entire home from water damage and you think an issue needs to be addressed, reach out to us today by contacting us online or giving us a call at 540-483-9382.