Picking up where we left off, your basements can serve as another unnoticeable factor in the potential for a severe water or mold damage issue in your home. Although they may not be so common in our coastal region, they do exist, and those in our area are the most susceptible to dangerously high humidity and moisture levels that will contribute to property loss and the adverse health effects commonly associated with mold growth. Since the basement is typically buried within the soil surrounding your home’s foundation, it is not uncommon for moisture to seep and eventually drip through the pores of the foundation’s concrete. As this moisture evaporates, your indoor humidity may rise to unsafe levels without ever causing a visible leak or standing water. Remember that water in its liquid form is not the only state capable of causing extensive and dangerous water damage, as indoor humidity levels alone can allow destructive amounts of mold to flourish and silently poison your home from the bottom up. During the more humid months of the year in south Louisiana, another common invisible cause of basement water damage is condensation forming on the cooler concrete blocks of the foundation’s walls and floors. That being said, let us just state here that while glued-on wallpaper is NEVER a good idea in our climate, it is most certainly the absolute WORST thing to have in a finished basement, since the already humid conditions of our basement walls will make the space between the wall and the paper a breeding ground for mold, and the wallpaper glue is a delicacy that creates all the conditions mold needs to survive and flourish, and worst of all, you won’t even know it’s there until it’s grown to the point where it’s actually eaten through the entire wall covering. Some of the same appliances that often make identifying the source of a water loss easy and instantly identifiable can also be secretly harboring the conditions for a sustained and silent water damage operation that untrained eyes might never detect until the damage is done and the cost of repairing is at its highest point. Water heaters, washers, dryers, refrigerators and other appliances can rust, deteriorate or rupture at such a gradual rate that slow leaks can go undetected for months before making their presence known. Most of the hoses attached to these appliances tend to deteriorate from the inside out, which can make failures even harder to detect and the threat of a leak even more important to identify. Also, any appliances installed on the upper levels of your home have the potential to cause even more damage, simply due to the fact that they place even more of your property in the water damage danger zone. Keep in mind as well that slow leaks from a bad seal in your kitchen sink or dishwasher can steadily divert small amounts of water into your walls, your cabinets, and even the framework of your countertops, slowly wearing away at the structural integrity of your castle. Remember to keep a watchful eye on these items and check their components on a regular basis for any signs of wear and tear beyond the level of safe operation. As we have shown, there are many silent and invisible causes of water damage, just as there are several immediate and obvious warning signs that you’re about to be in a soggy situation. The truth is that there will always be those water damage culprits that are simply unavoidable and unpredictable, like backed up toilets and drains, clogged garbage disposals, root penetrations in underground plumbing lines, sudden storms and floods and even the gradual deterioration of water conducting material that abruptly reaches its breaking point. The best thing you can do before these sudden disasters strike is to establish a relationship with a local water restoration professional. Take the time to get to know them BEFORE you need them, because time is short when the need is great, and it’s always better if you make the decision on who to trust when there’s no pressure or time restrictions involved. As we enter this next hurricane season, keep your eyes peeled, your closets open, your fingers crossed and your phone at the ready.