Untreated water damage isn’t just an eyesore; It can also lead to mold and mildew problems that can be dangerous to your health.
“Water damage is one of the biggest threats to the integrity of a home,” said Steve Leasure, vice president of operations at Rainbow Restoration in Waco, Texas. “Water damage is progressive, and if left unchecked for more than 24 hours, even relatively small leaks can lead to mold, mildew, dry rot and serious structural damage.”
Have you noticed water damage in your home? This is how it goes on – and what it costs you.
Need a pro?
Whether you hire a professional or a do-it-yourselfer for water damage restoration depends on the source of the water exposure and the extent of the damage.
“Residential water damage can range in scale from a simple DIY project to a complete overhaul of all the plumbing in the home,” says Tanya Klien, CEO of Toronto-based Anta Plumbing. “The first thing you should do when there is water damage is turn off the water to your home while you investigate the problem.”
Next, determine the source of the water.
“Find out the cause of the water damage,” says Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing in Waco, Texas. “Is it the result of a leaking pipe in the wall, under the floor, or possibly an emergency drain? For a suspected water leak where water is visible but doesn’t appear to be coming from a visible location, like under the sink, you may need to trace it.”
If you suspect a plumbing problem, you’ll likely need to call in a professional to make sure it’s found – and fixed correctly. The same goes for a roof or other external leak. While you may be able to repair wall or ceiling damage yourself, you’ll probably want a professional to fix the exterior of your home to avoid future repeats.
According to Mike Powell, president of Red Flag Home Inspection in Tampa, Fla., if you see a lot of mold, you should also call in a professional. Florida statutes (where Red Flag is located) recommend repairing only small patches of mold yourself—under 10 square feet, or about a 3-foot by 3-foot spot. You should also consult a rehabilitation specialist.
“As a surveyor called in to assess the cause and origin of water damage, I often need to assess how to handle a facility after it has been exposed to water,” says Powell. “My first criterion for handling in the DIY area would be the presence and size of visible mold. If there is no visible mold or the visible mold is less than 10 square feet, it’s a strong candidate for the DIY enthusiast.”
costs and deadlines
Just like the source of water damage, the cost and time it takes to repair can vary widely.
“Water damage repairs can cost anywhere from $50 to several thousand dollars, depending on the extent of the damage,” Klien says.
According to home services platform Angi, the typical cost of water damage repairs averages between $1,303 and $5,699. However, in some cases it can be as high as $14,000.
Do-it-yourself jobs usually cost less than problems handled professionally. Here’s a look at the average cost per project, depending on the source and location in the home.
- Roof repair: $1,000
- Ceiling repair: $350 to $2,000
- Basement repair/restoration: $500 to $2,800
- Drywall repair: $300 to $850
- Floor and hardwood repair: $200-$550
- Repair of leaks and burst pipes: $1,000 to $4,000
- Mold remediation and removal: $2,200 average
As for how long repairs take, experts say it can take days, weeks, or even months.
“The time it takes to repair a water damage event largely depends on the type of water damage and the amount of damage to the structure,” says Leasure. “If the source of the water leak, such as B. a burst pipe, detected early, the damage can be minimized and it can take just a few days to a week to repair a damage. In the case of major damage, repairs can take weeks to months. It all depends on the amount of water to be withdrawn, the amount of uprooting required and the materials needed for rebuilding.”
DIY tips for water damage repair
If you decide to have your water damage repaired, experts say it’s important to first fix the water exposure — the leak, burst pipe, or other problem that caused the damage — before attempting repairs.
“Believe it or not, this step gets overlooked or neglected by the pros from time to time,” says Powell.
Once you’ve eliminated the water source, you can carefully remove the affected drywall, baseboard, or other damaged material and use a fan to dry the area.
Remember: what you see is not always what you get. If you are not 100% sure that the damage is minor and limited to a single area, you should consult a professional to be on the safe side.
“It’s important to remember that water damage can penetrate beneath the flooring and damage the subfloor,” says Leasure. “If you don’t understand the extent of the damage, your best bet is to contact a professional water sanitation company. Some water damage jobs require a complete tear out, dry and rebuild.”
Being proactive is the best defense
Staying on top of things when maintaining your home and knowing how to spot even minor leaks and water damage can save you from costly and time-consuming repairs down the line.
First, consider installing a leak detection monitor. These often connect to your smartphone and alert you when there’s a potential leak in your home’s plumbing. You can also have an annual HVAC and roof check, and conduct regular assessments of common problem areas around the home – like your air conditioning and appliances.
“Have an annual inspection of water heaters, showers, tubs, toilets, sinks, dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines and have them repaired if there are signs of leaks or corrosion,” says Jen Wilbert, associate vice president of property insurance at Travelers Insurance in Hartford, Connecticut . “Be sure to include umbilicals, hoses, fittings and fittings in the inspection.”
Finally, look for red flags, which could signal water entering your home.
“Some hidden signs of a plumbing leak are dripping faucets, rust, puddles of water, higher water bills, mysterious water on the bathroom floor, and uneven floors or tiles,” says James.