In most cases, the cause of a water loss is easily identifiable. Whether it’s a burst pipe or a leaking dishwasher, a failed hot water heater or even a flood, the source of the damage is usually obvious, and if you are home at the time, you might even see or hear the precise moment the damage occurred. However, we’d like to discuss some of the more unseen and invisible causes of water losses to make you aware of these hidden dangers in your home and to better protect you from having to call a professional water restoration company to track it down and solve the problem.
One such invisible threat is your air conditioning or HVAC system. Failing to change the air filters on a regular basis, never cleaning the air ducts and air handler or even simply failing to open the closet door and look inside from time to time can cause serious and long-term damage to your home and its indoor air quality. When the coils in your air handler become too caked with dust or other contaminants, their ability to cool and heat your home suffers, and the risk of a fire may increase as well. Cluttered coils can also contribute to rising energy bills and the invisible threat of mold spores flourishing throughout every room in your home. Your HVAC system has to be balanced properly in order to prevent unsafe levels of high humidity and condensation in your air ducts. While the problem may remain invisible for quite some time, one tell-tale sign of an improperly balanced duct system is the presence of “sweating” registers, the vents that are meant to circulate cool, dry air inside the home.
Another symptom of this indoor air ailment that might be undetectable at first is the presence of unsafe levels of condensation behind pictures, mirrors, or furniture that is mounted or placed against walls. When an HVAC system is unbalanced, you may not see anything wrong until you look behind these items and find that these pockets of humid and stagnant air have taken a serious toll on your drywall and the backsides of your contents. If you check behind your pictures and other items and find the presence of what appears to be mildew or concentrated mold growth, you will need to call a licensed HVAC installer and specialist to come and assess the situation and re-balance your air ducts, making sure that they are the right size and air output for the size of the rooms in your home. You will also need to call a licensed mold remediator to clean the air ducts, to take care of the damage to your walls and to advise you on whether to remediate or dispose of your affected belongings.
Another common and invisible A/C threat is failing to look periodically inside the return closet (or attic) for leaks from the drain pan or drain lines. We can tell you from firsthand experience that sometimes your unit doesn’t work like it’s supposed to, and your coils and coolant lines can freeze up, causing ice to build up and eventually melt inside of the unit. Since air is being constantly sucked in through a machine that is becoming more and more constricted by ice, you will notice that your house isn’t cooling as well as it should. This constant rush of air passing over the ice causes it to melt as rapidly as new ice is formed, and before long your entire closet is saturated with standing water, which can lead to mold growth and ultimately the spread of mold spores throughout your entire system and all of its ductwork. A good practice is to place a bucket or large plastic tote beneath your air handler if possible, to assist in catching any excess water before you can get to it, if you don’t already have a drain pan installed. Another great idea is to have an HVAC contractor install a float switch on the unit. This switch will automatically shut off the unit when the drain line is clogged, thus preventing a mess before it even occurs. No matter what, try to remember to peek inside your closet or attic periodically to make sure that your A/C is functioning properly.
Your plumbing can serve as yet another source of invisible water damage. That is, it’s invisible until the damage is obvious and extensive! Plumbing leaks or failures usually happen at pipe joints or hose attachments. Rather than a sudden burst or rupture, dumping rapid gallons of water into your bathroom or kitchen in seconds, the worst kinds of damage can sometimes be the result of a slow leak that happens quietly inside the walls of your home, gradually wreaking havoc from the inside out and not making its presence known until the cavity is saturated, forcing water to seep out when there is no more room inside. The damage from plumbing leaks within walls can be severe and extensive, and sometimes there is no way to prevent what may seem like a worst-case scenario from happening, but an observant eye on the visible parts of your plumbing, and attention to any fluctuations on your water bill can help you to spot these invisible dangers before they reveal themselves, and hopefully before you ever have to call us!
Enviro-Clean Services in Houma, LA specializes in water restoration and cleanup. In the unfortunate event you discover water damage, do not hesitate to give us a call. We are available to help 24/7.