There are few occurrences quite as costly and potentially catastrophic to homeowners as water damage. Something as simple as an overflowing toilet or a burst pipe could have very serious consequences, ranging from damage to the home itself that may cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to repair, to the potential health hazards of the mold growth that can accompany water damage. The effects of water damage can be far-reaching indeed, wreaking havoc on flooring, drywall, ceilings and roofs, furniture and upholstery, and valuables including fabrics, papers and photographs. When it comes to water damage, the best solution is prevention. Learn what the warning signs are and how to cope with them and you’ll be well equipped to protect your home from the devastation of water damage.

While water damage has the potential to occur in virtually any internal or external area of the home, it most commonly afflicts one of three rooms: The bathroom, the kitchen and the laundry room. These rooms tend to have the most plumbing and therefore the greatest risk of leaks and floods. To begin, each of these rooms should be regularly inspected for preliminary signs of water damage and leaks. In the bathroom, inspect the tub or shower, sink and toilet. Are they properly sealed and caulked? Are the tiles in the shower area cracked, broken or missing? Are the pipes old or rusty? Next, move on to the kitchen. Pay special attention to the dishwasher, refrigerator and sink. Again, keep an eye on the pipes, and look at the floor for any signs of discoloration, warping or moisture. Finally, in the laundry room, focus on the washing machine, water heater, and air conditioning unit. Are the hoses on your appliances strong and securely in place? Is your water heater old and in need of replacing? Remember, water heaters aren’t built to last forever – you’ll need to replace yours every 15 years or so to keep it in top condition.

After you’ve inspected these water damage hot spots, move on to the rest of the house. Look for any dark spots or softness on the floors, walls and ceilings that could be indicative of moisture. Check the caulking on your windows and doors in order to ensure that rainwater, ice and snow can’t find their way inside. In addition, take note of any areas that have a musty, unpleasant odor that may indicate the presence of mold or mildew. In addition to acting as a strong indicator of water damage, mold can also have health implications for you and your family, including respiratory problems, headaches, and dizziness. If you find mold in your home, contact a mold remediation professional immediately to have it removed safely and thoroughly.

Remember, the biggest mistake you can make when it comes to water damage is ignoring it. Don’t be caught unprepared; instead, take steps to safeguard your home by learning how to prevent water damage.

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