When your home has been hit with water damage, you may think indoor air quality is the least of your problems. Compared to the water damage you’re seeing, indoor air quality is a low priority, right? But the truth of it is you could be breathing in mold and other hazards to your health.

What is water damage?

Water damage describes a large number of possible losses caused by water intruding where it will enable attack of a material or system by destructive processes such as rotting wood, rusting of steel and many others. 

The damage may start off slow or come all at once. Regardless of how fast it occurs, water damage is one of the biggest contributors to property loss.

Examples:

  • Leaking: Pipes or appliances leaking are some of the more moderate causes of water damage and can be fairly easy to fix based on the location. While kitchen sink or water heater leaks contain clean water, plumbing leaks carry sewage with them and an increased risk of spreading bacteria, viruses, and mold.
  • Condensation: When the humidity of the home is too high, condensation can begin to form. In many cases, water damage from condensation can be hard to detect, hiding just out of sight in your home. Homeowners should be on the lookout for excess condensation on windows and a musty odor.
  • Flooding:  Flooding caused by natural disasters is one of the most dangerous forms of water damage. It brings substances from the outdoors, such as raw sewage, trash, and other microorganisms. Due to the large volume of water, floods not being cleaned up fast enough, and the standing water becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, and mold.

How this can impact your health:

When inhaled over an extended period of time, mold can cause congestion and throat irritation, as well as coughing and wheezing in otherwise healthy individuals. For others, symptoms can be much worse.

Approximately 25% of people are allergic to mold, and about 235 million people live with varying degrees of asthma, with children being particularly vulnerable. Exposure to mold for these individuals, as well as anyone with additional respiratory conditions, can lead to asthma attacks, pneumonia, and other serious infections. The increased moisture and humidity in your home also allows for common allergens, such as pollen and dust mites, to increase.

What you can do:

When dealing with water damage in your home, your first step should be to dry the area as quickly as possible, preferably within the next 24 to 48 hours. Next, focus on cleaning up the area to remove any remaining contaminants, this includes throwing away affected furniture and carpets. Finally, address the source of the problem by fixing leaky pipes, replacing broken appliances or installing a dehumidifier.

We recommend calling a certified professional when water damage occurs to inspect for potentially dangerous situations around the home and in your air handling systems. Prevention is the best way to avoid mold. Yearly air duct cleanings are recommended to ensure mold isn’t hiding in your home’s duct work. Check our website for more information.