How To Prevent Water Damage

Monday, February 6th, 2012 by Taylor Harvel

At some stage in our lives, most of us will be faced with the unenviable task of dealing with some form of water damage in our homes. Water damage is one of the most common homeowner's insurance claims in the country, so underestimate its destructive power at your peril. Whether inflicted in one big hit via flooding or by a gradual drip, drip problem, water damage can lead to a whole host of problems including rotting wood and rusting steel. It also provides the perfect breeding ground for mould and mildew, which is seriously bad news for your possessions, or anyone with respiratory problems.


The most obvious causes of water damage are leaking roofs, windows and doors, foundation cracks, poorly maintained appliances, and visible plumbing problems, i.e. broken and/or leaking pipes. These problems are pretty easy to spot and can usually be repaired quickly before too much damage is sustained.

However, there are some other causes which aren’t as obvious and require professional help to fix. These include: poor grading around foundation walls; trapped moisture lurking behind finished basement walls; and moist interior air that leaks between living spaces and lofts.

Signs of Trouble

You may have a potential water damage problem if you spot any of these:

  • Persistent mould or mildew on your ceilings and walls
  • A mouldy or musty smell in any part of the house, especially in basement or cellar areas
  • Evidence of rising damp
  • Decreased water pressure
  • Sagging ceilings
  • Sunken areas in your exterior pavestones or paths

Emergency action

In the case of an obvious leak:

  • Turn off the water supply at the stopcock.
  • If you can, catch excess water in a bucket or other container.
  • Don’t use the electrics if you suspect that they’ve been affected. You’ll need to have them checked and declared safe by a qualified electrician.
  • Contact your insurance company immediately to report your claim.

Repairing the damage

Act fast! Water will continue to wreak havoc on your home until it’s dry and mould can make an appearance in just 48 hours. It’s essential to call in a professional - they’ll have the proper equipment and the ability to spot any hidden problems. They’ll also help you to document the damage, which helps no end with insurance claims. Here’s how the professionals can help:

  • Extraction - excess water is removed via wet-dry vacuums or sump pumps. Do not attempt a DIY job with a standard home vacuum!                                                                                           
  • Drying - decent air circulation is key - think high-velocity fans and de-humidifiers.                                                                                                                                  
  • Repair- cleaning, repairing and disinfecting all areas that have sustained damage.                          
  • Restoration - this may involve the replacement of wallboard, flooring, or ceilings, and even the complete reconstruction of some areas. Re-landscaping may be necessary in order to create proper run-off and drainage.


As doctors like to say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” With regards to the more obvious causes of water damage, take these simple steps to help prevent a disaster in your home:

  • Inspect your home for leaking plumbing fittings, clogged drains, dripping pipes, and any problems with overflow pipes, both inside and outdoors.
  • Ensure that your taps are always turned off after use but avoid over-tightening them.
  • Regularly check your pipes to identify corroded areas, frozen fittings and other potential weak spots.
  • Make sure that pipes are well insulated to help prevent frost damage.
  • Regularly inspect, clean and repair guttering and down pipes.

For basements, you’d be wise to consider a permanent solution, in other words, damp-proofing. Most cellars and basements have some sort of potential or existing damp problem since they’re not exposed to the open air, which can cause huge problems – particularly in terms of leaks and flooding. So, get ahead of the game and call in a professional damp-proofing contractor.

Basement Systems GB specializes in damp proofing in Southampton and cellar conversion in Bristol, Birmingham, Oxford, and Plymouth, Great Britain.