Common Causes of Water Damage in Businesses
It is usually easy to see when your business is flooding, but some causes of water damage are not so obvious. Determining the origin of the problem may require a bit of detective work, and simply cleaning up the signs of damage often won’t fix the root cause. Be sure to keep an eye out for these common causes of water damage in commercial properties.
Small leaks in your roof can lead to large amounts of damage. Flat roofs are particularly susceptible to water damage. Even though most flat roofs do have a slight incline, natural debris, like leaves and branches, can create areas where water can easily build up. Standing water can create cracks and leaks in your roof, which can result in water damage throughout your property.
Even if your roof has a steep incline, debris and freezing temperatures in the winter can create natural dams on your roof. Moss can also cause similar issues as it absorbs water and holds it in place on your roof. Regularly clear moss and debris off your roof to prevent damage.
Ice dams can be a little-known, but major problem during the snowy season, especially for commercial buildings with flat roofs. They form when heated air melts roof snow downward into water dammed behind still-frozen ice. When the trapped water cannot safely flow or run into the gutter system, it can backflow under the roof ’s shingles and into the structure’s interior areas, as well as causing gutters and shingles to move or fall.
Icicles can be an initial sign of an ice dam, according to Travelers.com. To spot ice dams inside, “check for water stains or moisture in your attic or along the ceiling of exterior walls of your property. Water stains or moisture may be an indication that an ice dam has formed and water has penetrated the roof membrane.”
Removing an ice dam as soon as it is found is vital to helping prevent damage to your property and can be done using heated cables, a roof shovel, or a calcium chloride ice melter.
Ideally, gutters direct water off your roof and away from your building. However, it’s easy for leaves, branches, and other debris to clog your gutters. Over time, water will build up and start to overflow onto your walls. Small holes can form as well. Instead of guiding water away from your building, water will constantly leak down its walls. This creates an ideal situation for water damage to occur.
Multi-level properties should have the gutters regularly inspected on all roof levels. If gutters start to overflow from a higher level, water can impact lower roofs with greater volume and velocity and cause damage.
Frequently clear out your gutters, especially in the fall or after a windy day.
Depending on the location and severity of a broken or leaking pipe, this can be one of the most obvious causes of damage or one of the most subtle.
Winter is a common season for burst pipes. Insufficient insulation can cause pipes to freeze, expand and burst. Commercial buildings may be closed over weekends and frozen pipes can go unnoticed. Rust and age can also damage your pipes.
Unfortunately, it can take a while to notice a leaking pipe, which can give water plenty of time to damage your property. Watch for telltale signs such as lower water pressure, discolored water, or staining on your walls.
While you might prefer to avoid sewage in your day-to-day life, tree roots enjoy easy access to sources of water and fertilizer. Tree roots will often grow into and clog drain lines, which causes the sewage to back up and results in water damage in and around your building.
These clogs will often affect multiple drains. If you flush your toilet and hear gurgling coming from the shower drain, you may have a sewer clog. To prevent tree roots from finding their way into your sewage lines, you can install metal or wood barriers running vertically by the lines. Make sure they are buried 6-12” deeper than the pipe.
Toilets and sewer lines can also clog after someone flushes inappropriate items down the toilet. Make sure everyone in your building knows to avoid flushing feminine hygiene products, rags, cotton balls, paper towels, baby wipes, diapers, etc. If it’s not toilet paper, don’t send it down the toilet.
Broken or Malfunctioning Appliances
As water heaters and other appliances age, they can develop rust, leaks, and cracks. Even a small trickle of water can cause damage over time. Keep an eye on your machines as they get older. Watch for any decreases in performance, and inspect the appliances regularly.
Many businesses and apartment facilities have extensive sprinkler systems. Though these systems are meant to help reduce potential damage to these properties, they can often be the cause of major water damage. Many commercial water losses we see come from broken or faulty sprinkler heads or because the sprinklers were set off by a small fire. If left running, these sprinkler heads can flood a building with hundreds of gallons of water very quickly. Be sure to not hang items from sprinkler heads and to avoid setting off alarms with smoke.
A leaky or malfunctioning HVAC system can also cause major water damage to a property. Small leaks can go unnoticed for some time and can cause unseen water damage. If not caught early, the damage can become a lot bigger and harder to clean up and restore. Be sure to have your HVAC systems checked regularly. If you are seeing signs of water damage, such as sagging or bulging drywall, or if things are smelling musty and mildew, have us come check it out. We have the equipment to check for hidden water damage. We can let you know if you have water damage.
These are a few of the more common causes of water damage. The truth is, wherever there is water in your commercial building, there is a potential for damage if something goes wrong. At SERVPRO® of East Monroe County, we know how to fix water damage at the source of the problem. Using our experience and training, we offer long-term solutions to make your property “Like it never even happened.”
We know that water problems can occur at any time, which is why we offer 24-hour emergency service. If you find signs of water damage in your building, don’t hesitate to call SERVPRO of East Monroe County at 585-641-0040.