Water damage is a common but potentially hazardous issue homeowners face. Global Market Insights predicts the waterproofing membrane market will surpass $9.5 billion in 2022. This fact demonstrates that homeowners are increasingly taking precautions to guard their homes and family against water damage. The consequences of not addressing water damage in your home can be devastating. Here’s what can happen to your family’s health if you fail to take appropriate measures.

1. Respiratory Problems

Untreated water damage negatively impacts indoor air quality as it causes humidity levels to rise, creating an ideal environment for mold growth and other harmful microorganisms. Mold growth is one of the most concerning issues caused by water damage. The Federal Disaster Management Agency (FEMA) claims mold can develop in your home within 24 hours of water exposure.

Mold spores can trigger respiratory problems such as asthma and allergies. In severe cases, mold exposure can cause infections and neurological problems. So when you notice a leak in your home or any other form of water damage, address it immediately to prevent the growth of mold, which can quickly spread throughout your home.

2. Bacteria Infections

Failing to address water damage in your home creates a damp environment that favors the growth of harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli. Intestinal infections brought on by these bacteria can result in diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Water damage can also encourage the growth of viruses such as Norovirus, which exhibits severe symptoms such as body aches, chills, and fever.

3. Structural Damage

Most people know the direct health risks associated with water damage in a home. However, you should be aware of other issues that water damage could cause. For example, structural damage can result from extended exposure to water and moisture. The most obvious signs of structural damage are aesthetic changes such as discoloration, staining, and wall streaks. These are typically the first signs of water damage.

Drywall begins to distort and expand as it absorbs water from a leaking pipe or other sources of water damage. This damage can spread to other materials in the home if left untreated, compromising your home’s structural integrity. If the damage gets to important structures such as the support beams, they can fail and injure you or your family members.

In 2019, 5% of insured homes filed at least one claim. If you have home insurance, your provider will handle the structural damage. However, you’ll need health insurance for injuries caused by the failing support structure, which can be costly.

4. Bug Infestations

Warm, humid indoor environments are ideal for domestic insects. So by failing to address water damage in your home, you’re creating a natural oasis for bugs. Such conditions are ideal breeding grounds for spiders, gnats, mosquitoes, ants, earwigs, silverfish, beetles, roaches, and other common household pests. As bugs die and eggs hatch, the debris encourages more infestations which spread unhealthy bacteria in your home.

Addressing Water Damage

The key to preventing these risks is addressing water damage as soon as it’s discovered. The first step is to identify the source of the water damage and stop the water flow. If the damage originates from a leaking appliance, such as a washing machine or dishwasher, turn off the water supply to that appliance. If a burst pipe is the cause of the damage, turn off the main water supply to your home.

Once you identify the source of the water damage and stop it, remove any standing water and dry out the affected area. You can do this using a wet/dry vacuum or specialized equipment. You can use fans and dehumidifiers to help dry out the area and prevent mold and bacteria growth. Hiring a professional water damage restoration company may sometimes be necessary to handle the cleanup and repairs. These companies have specialized equipment and expertise to address water damage.

You should never ignore water damage in your home. It can cause serious health issues for you and your family. Call a water damage remediation company if you suspect water damage in your home.