Hidden Dangers of Standing Water: Health Risks and Structural Damage

Posted by: Core Team, Inc. on September 15, 2023

Standing water may seem harmless at first glance, but beneath its seemingly placid surface lies a host of hidden dangers that can impact both our health and the structural integrity of our surroundings. From mosquito-borne illnesses to the gradual erosion of building foundations, the presence of stagnant water can have far-reaching consequences. In this blog, we'll delve into the often underestimated risks posed by standing water, highlighting the importance of addressing them promptly.

Health Risks

Mosquito-Borne Diseases

One of the most pressing health concerns associated with standing water is the breeding ground it provides for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, and even small pools can become breeding sites. These blood-sucking insects are carriers of various diseases such as West Nile virus, dengue fever, and Zika virus. By allowing standing water to accumulate, we inadvertently provide a haven for these disease-carrying pests, increasing the risk of exposure to these illnesses.

Bacterial Growth

Stagnant water provides an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria, algae, and other microorganisms. Harmful bacteria like E. coli and Legionella can thrive in stagnant water, particularly in areas such as rainwater-filled containers or neglected pools. If this contaminated water comes into contact with human skin or is ingested, it can lead to gastrointestinal infections, skin irritations, and other health issues.

Allergies and Respiratory Problems

Stagnant water can also trigger the growth of mold and fungi, which release spores into the air. Inhalation of these spores can lead to allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems, particularly for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Indoor areas with poor ventilation that are affected by water leaks or flooding are especially susceptible to mold growth and subsequent health risks.

Structural Damage

Foundation Erosion

Prolonged exposure to standing water can compromise the structural integrity of buildings and other structures. Water can infiltrate the soil surrounding a foundation, leading to erosion and weakening of the foundation itself. Over time, this can result in cracks, settling, and even foundation collapse. Regular inspections and proper drainage systems are essential to prevent such damage.

Rot and Decay

Wooden structures that come into contact with standing water are at risk of rot and decay. Be it a wooden deck, fence, or even the siding of a house, constant moisture can lead to the breakdown of the material, compromising its strength and durability. Regular maintenance and proper waterproofing are crucial to prevent these issues.

Soil Instability

Excess water in the soil can lead to soil instability, particularly in areas with clay-rich soil. This instability can cause the ground to shift, leading to problems like sinkholes, landslides, and even damage to underground utility lines. Additionally, the soil's ability to support weight can be compromised, affecting the stability of structures like driveways and retaining walls.

Prevention and Mitigation

Proper Drainage

Adequate drainage is key to preventing the accumulation of standing water. Regularly clean gutters, downspouts, and drains to ensure that water flows away from your property. Proper grading and landscaping can also help direct water away from buildings.

Regular Inspections

Frequent inspections of your property, both indoors and outdoors, can help identify potential problem areas. Fixing leaks, addressing drainage issues, and promptly repairing any water damage can prevent more significant issues down the line.

Mosquito Control

To curb mosquito breeding, eliminate standing water sources around your property. Empty containers that collect rainwater, ensure proper pool maintenance, and keep bird baths clean and fresh.

Timely Repairs

Whether it's fixing a leaky roof, sealing cracks in your foundation, or repairing broken gutters, addressing water-related issues promptly can save you from more extensive and costly damage in the future.

While standing water might appear harmless, it harbors a range of hidden dangers that can impact both our health and the structural integrity of our surroundings. From breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes to the slow erosion of building foundations, the consequences of ignoring stagnant water can be severe. By understanding the risks and taking proactive measures to prevent and address them, we can ensure the safety of our homes, health, and environment. Remember, when it comes to standing water, vigilance and prompt action are your best allies.

Tags: Water Damage

Frequently Asked Questions

Most homeowners’ policies cover most water damages, but not all water damages are created equal. There can be a lot of exceptions to coverage depending on the intricacies of your policy. This is why it’s a good idea to be familiar with your policy and call your agent immediately when damage occurs.

A good portion of water damage can be prevented by proper household maintenance. Routine plumbing maintenance, sump pump, and appliance maintenance are effective ways to avoid preventable damages. Preparing your home for the winter can also help avoid damage if you live in a cold climate. Finally, it’s a good idea to regularly check the exterior of your home, particularly your roof, for damage to ensure water isn’t unexpectedly leaking into your home.

That depends on the types of materials that were affected by water. Drywall, carpet, and hardwood floors will take longer to dry than other materials in the space. We use moisture meters throughout the process and in many different locations to gauge the moisture levels and will continue to adjust our fans and dehumidifiers to achieve an efficient but effective dry time. The bare minimum of "three days to dry" may only produce a surface dry but can still leave behind moisture levels that create an ideal environment for mold to grow.

Water damage insurance claims depend on a few different criteria. Ultimately, that's a question you'll have to clarify with your insurance company. However, we can tell you that the viability of water damage insurance claims depends primarily on what caused the damage (storm, burst pipe, plumbing malfunction, localized flood, sump pump failure, etc.). Some insurance policies will outline scenarios that will NOT be covered without specific riders, like flood insurance or sump pump failure insurance.

Contacting a restoration contractor and your insurance adjuster at the same time is a good idea because the restoration contractor will help ensure that the water extraction and dry out and the rebuild process that should follow. If the full scope of the claim isn't outlined and agreed upon from the start, there may be issues down the line, and property owners may have to pay out of pocket to get the property completely back to normal.

Most homeowners start trying to remove the water themselves before they realize they'll need to contact their insurance company about a claim so they can call in a water damage restoration company. However, standing water around anything with a power cord or outlet or sagging ceilings makes the area unsafe. Also, many insurance claims require documentation of the loss BEFORE any work is done, including removing the water. Always take plenty of photos of the damage you see before taking any action to start cleaning up the mess. Your restoration contractor will also be able to back up your insurance claim scope with the necessary technical documentation.

If the water damage involves Category 1 water (clean and free of microbes and bacteria), many of your personal belongings can be salvaged. Category 2 water would include other water sources, including rainwater, that, while not containing biohazards or sewage, still pose health risks and the potential for destructive microbial growth and mold. A water damage restoration technician will help you sort through the property's contents to determine what can be safely dried, what can be restored by a textile/contents technician, and what can't be saved or salvaged. There are off-site facilities in the area that specialize in restoring water-damaged contents. Your restoration team will document all of the contents leaving the property for restoration or disposal for your records and also for reimbursement from your insurance company.

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