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What Damage Can Water Cause?

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

water damage

Water damage is a multifaceted event that affects your home in a variety of ways. Because very few parts of a typical house are waterproof, exposure to water is never a positive event. The wide range of potential negative consequences of water damage require rapid response and recovery techniques performed by qualified professionals to restore your home to a safe and healthy environment. Here are some of the major ways water can damage your home and disrupt your daily life:

Structural damage. Many parts of a home’s construction are vulnerable to the effects of water.

  • Two of the most common structural elements—drywall and wood—are compromised when exposed to it.
  • Drywall that forms walls and ceilings rapidly absorbs water and may be dried in place if there is no obvious change in shape and seams are intact.  However, drywall affected by ‘dirty’ water will need to be replaced. 
  • Wood structure in the attic, crawl space, and inside walls can warp, rot and decompose due to long term or repeated exposure to water.
  • Bricks and other masonry are at risk as submersion in standing water can erode mortar that holds individual pieces together.

Electrical damage. No components of your home’s electrical system are made to resist water exposure. Electrical wiring, outlets, junction boxes, and circuit breaker panels are all very vulnerable to water exposure. If these components become wet, dangers relating to the initial moisture—as well as the corrosion that follows—typically mean that affected components must be inspected and possibly replaced.  

Insulation issues. Both fiberglass and cellulose loose-fill insulation lose insulating capacity when wet. Fiberglass batts may be removed from the house, dried, and then reinstalled. Cellulose insulation that has become wet is considered ruined and must be replaced.

HVAC systems. Water entering the HVAC system triggers mold growth, deteriorates duct material, and causes air leaks. If water contacts critical furnace components such as burners and the heat exchanger, these costly parts are no longer safe and will require replacement. If the AC compressor in the outdoor unit is submerged by flooding, the compressor and other associated electrical components will also need to be replaced.

Flooring. Solid hardwood flooring will absorb water, causing dimensional changes such as swelling and buckling. Engineered flooring made of layers of wood glued together may permanently deteriorate when saturated, requiring replacement.  Standing water seeping beneath the flooring such as tile and other materials may soak the wooden subfloor beneath, requiring removal of flooring material to dry the subfloor. 

Eight Things to Know About Basement Humidity

Thursday, October 29th, 2020
basement humidity

There’s nothing mysterious about basement humidity issues. Chronic humidity accumulates in the basement due to chronic moisture sources down there. Another non-mysterious fact is that basement humidity problems frequently don’t stay in the basement. Consequences of a persistently damp, humid basement directly below your floor—such as toxic mold growth—can impact the upstairs environment, too.   

Here are 8 things to know about basement humidity and ways to deal with it:

  • A basement dehumidifier can lower humidity but doesn’t address  ongoing causes of it.
  • Sources of basement moisture/humidity fall into three categories: Rain and resultant infiltrating groundwater, influx of humid outdoor air that triggers basement condensation and moisture sources originating inside the basement.
  • One inch of rainfall deposits over 1,200 gallons of water on the roof of an average-size residence. Unless it’s collected in functional gutters and discharged at least four feet from the house through downspouts, roof runoff soaks into the ground adjacent to the house and may then seep into the basement, contributing to high humidity.
  • Soil surrounding the foundation should be slightly graded to divert pooling water away from the basement during rain.
  • In certain locales, naturally occurring groundwater may also seep through pores and tiny cracks in the concrete basement floor and walls, elevating basement humidity. A sump pump with an air-tight cover installed in the basement floor relieves under-slab pressure that drives seepage. A perforated drain pipe installed around the perimeter of the basement footing also collects and removes groundwater.
  • Plumbing pipes routed through the basement should be checked for seepage and leaks. Cold water pipes “sweat”condensation in a humid basement, adding more moisture to the air. Insulate cold pipes with foam insulation sleeves.
  • An unvented clothes dryer placed in the basement is a common humidity source. Dryer exhaust should be vented directly to the exterior through an approved fireproof dryer vent.
  • Avoid frequently ventilating a basement with outdoor air in a humid climate. Humidity becomes trapped and accumulates in the enclosed basement space. If a basement requires ventilation, consider adding an operating ductwork vent to admit cool or warm air from the house HVAC system.

Mildew Removal – Why You May Need Help

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

mildew removalEffective mildew removal sometimes requires the same techniques as removal of toxic mold. After all, mildew is simply another variety of fungi, just like mold. While exposure to mildew may trigger mild allergic symptoms in particularly sensitive individuals, it’s rare to see the kind of debilitating physical effects that chronic exposure to more toxic indoor mold may produce. However, mildew contamination is unsightly, unsanitary and most people simply don’t want to live with it.

Do-It-Yourself Mildew Treatment

Simple mildew removal may be less complicated than other types of mold. Mildew tends to form on flat, hard surfaces in wet or steamy environments such as a kitchen or bathrooms. However, unlike more aggressive forms of mold, mildew usually doesn’t penetrate the surface of the material where it forms.
In most cases, spot treatment of mildew where it is visible can be accomplished by spraying the area with a commercially available mildew disinfectant. Alternatively, you can use a home-made mixture of 3/4 cup of household bleach to one gallon of water to kill mildew. Spray the affected area, scrub lightly with a brush, then allow the surface to remain wet for five minutes. Wipe away residue with a wet cloth and rinse the area thoroughly.

When DIY Doesn’t Do It

Like all mold, mildew spreads by releasing airborne spores from a focus of active growth. When mildew is a recurrent issue in a house despite repeated spot treatment, its main source may not be evident. Inspection by a mold remediation specialist includes air sampling to identify spores and pinpoint the primary area of contamination, as well as visually inspecting parts of the structure that aren’t easily accessible. This process pinpoints the source of mildew, eliminating active growth that is spreading spores in the house. A qualified professional in mold remediation can also recognize and suggest solutions to issues in the indoor environment that support growth of mildew and mold such as hidden sources of moisture, excessively high humidity and other factors.

For a professional inspection and effective mildew removal techniques, contact Rytech, Inc.

5 Tips to Prevent Basement Water Problems

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

basement leaksPreventing basement floods ought to be a concern for everyone with a basement. Some sort of water intrusion, minor or major, affects 98% of basements during the life of the home. Besides ruining possessions stored there, electrical panels, HVAC equipment and other vital systems—as well as posing the potential for long-term contamination by toxic mold—basement floods can also be damaging to the foundation and structure of the house.

Since the flood that never happens is the easiest kind to deal with, here are five tips for preventing basement floods:

  1. Maintain gutters. A roof sheds hundreds of gallons of water per hour during a heavy rainstorm, more than enough to cause flooding if it makes its way down into your basement. Water cascading from clogged, overflowing gutters inundates the ground below and may penetrate the basement wall. Also, make sure gutter downspouts discharge water at least three to five feet from the house
  2. Grade away from the house. Prevent pooling of water around the foundation perimeter. Landscape next to the house should be graded so water flows away and doesn’t soak into the ground immediately next to basement walls.
  3. Install a sump pump. A high groundwater level may cause basement flooding, especially during extended rainy periods. Installed in a sump basin excavated in the basement floor, a sump pump activates automatically to remove groundwater rising up beneath the house. After water is pumped out of the basement and discharged outside, the pump turns off automatically.
  4. Consider a backflow valve. Raw sewage flowing backwards through the sewer line from various causes enters the house at the lowest point—usually basement drains or fixtures. A backflow valve installed in your sewer line diverts sewage reflux up through an outdoor clean-out port before it floods the basement.
  5. Don’t ignore plumbing leaks. Pinhole leaks or seeping joints in water supply lines routed through the basement aren’t “normal” and shouldn’t be ignored. They may be a warning sign of an imminent pipe rupture that can flood the basement with thousands of gallons of water.

Ask the experts at Rytech, Inc. for more information about preventing basement floods.

What to Expect from Your Mold Remediation Appointment

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Maybe you wonder what you’re getting into. You have some reason to suspect your home might be contaminated by mold. Perhaps you had water damage in the past that wasn’t properly remediated — or other damp conditions exist — and resultant mold growth is now evident somewhere. Or maybe someone in the house is experiencing unexplained allergy-like symptoms that could be a reaction to airborne mold spores (See your doctor first, as it might be any number of other things.)

shutterstock_165329198So you’ve done your due diligence and identified a reputable local mold remediation firm certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Now what?

Here’s what to expect from your initial mold remediation appointment:

  • Prompt response. An appointment will be set up for a pre-determined day and time for an IICRC-certified mold specialist to visit your home.
  • Preliminary inspection. A visual inspection of the premises is the first step. Mold is shy and tends to grow in unseen spaces. An experienced technician knows its hiding places and has specialized equipment to visually access tight spaces unseen by the naked eye. Areas where water damage has occurred in the past or where chronic moisture is present are always suspect. So are damp, dark zones like the basement, crawl space and attic.
  • Sampling and testing. Air samples are taken to detect spores and any suspicious fungal growth will be tested to identify the exact type of mold. After the inspection, you’ll receive a written report of test results as well as a recommended treatment plan.
  • Mold removal. The mold remediation process consists of physically removing all growing mold and disinfecting affected surfaces with EPA-approved fungicides. Where mold has penetrated building materials like drywall, infected segments may be cut out and replaced. To clear the house of residual reproductive spores, the premises will be cleaned with high-efficiency vacuums and the HVAC filters replaced.
  • Follow-up. To confirm the results of the remediation, air samples may be taken at some interval after the treatment.

The specialists at Rytech, Inc. are ready to answer all your questions about a mold remediation procedure.

4 Things to Do Immediately After a Bathroom Flood

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

There are a number of opportunities for bathroom flooding. Second only to the basement, it’s the room in the house most likely to experience water behaving badly. A clogged toilet overflows when flushed, or a water supply line leaks under a bathroom sink, or someone starts filling a bathtub and forgets—any of these can turn water loose in the bathroom.

You can’t undo what’s already happened. However, taking the right steps after bathroom flooding can minimize immediate consequences as well as help reduce the amount of professional water damage restoration required in the aftermath.

  1. Turn off the water supply. If it’s just a single fixture like a toilet overflowing, there’s an individual shut-off valve on the wall behind the fixture to cut off water and stop the flooding. If (as sometimes happens), the individual shut-off valve to a fixture is frozen because it hasn’t been turned off in years, it’s a good idea to know in advance the location of the main water shutoff valve for the whole house and how to operate it to shut the water off there.
  2. Turn off electricity to the bathroom at the circuit breaker panel. In a flooded indoor room, electrocution is always a hazard. If there’s a lot of water loose in the bathroom, you don’t want to enter that soaked environment with outlets and light fixtures still “hot” with electrical power. If you’re uncertain about which circuit breakers control bathroom power, have an electrician clear the room before entering.
  3. Remove standing water. Use mops, old towels and floor squeegees to get standing water up off the floor and into buckets or down a drain. If you have a wet/dry shop vac in the house, you can utilize that, as well. Get any soaked bathroom rugs out of the house, too.
  4. Circulate air continuously. Open windows and/or bring in fans (be careful of using extension cords in wet areas) to keep air moving and dry the area as well as to reduce residual humidity in the air.

For professional water damage restoration after a bathroom flooding event, contact Rytech, Inc.


Keeping the Kitchen Dry: Preventing Dishwasher and Refrigerator Leaks

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

When it comes to kitchen water damage, the sink is the usual suspect—not dishwasher leaks or the fridge. However, both the dishwasher and the refrigerator ice maker are connected to the household water supply and receive water under about 45 pounds of pressure. Dishwasher leaks or a faulty ice maker connection generally occur out of sight, underneath or behind the unit. Leakage may be ongoing for some time before it becomes conspicuous. Structural damage like wood rot and issues such as mold growth are thus more likely.

Here are a few checks to prevent and/or pinpoint dishwasher leaks and refrigerator ice maker problems before too much damage is done.

Dishwasher Leaks

  • Every six months or so, remove the kick plate at the bottom of the dishwasher while the unit is running. Take a look underneath with a flashlight. If you notice dampness or water dripping you may have a defect like a leaking tub, bad pump seals, a defective solenoid valve or a loose hose connection.
  • If there’s water on the floor in front of the unit after a wash cycle, it’s probably leaking out around a worn or defective door seal. Another cause of leakage around the door is excessive sudsing due to using some kind of soap—like liquid dish soap—instead of recommended dishwasher detergent.

Ice Maker Leaks

  • Many refrigerators come with a plastic water supply tube for the ice maker. These may deteriorate and begin leaking—or rupture totally—at any time. Replace the plastic supply tube with a stainless steel braided water line for better reliability and longer life.
  • When you pull the refrigerator away from the wall for cleaning or any reason, make sure there’s enough slack in the water supply line so you don’t yank it loose or damage the connection. When you push the refrigerator back to the wall, take care that the line isn’t kinked.
  • Check behind the refrigerator a few times a year with a flashlight for any signs of moisture or leaking.

For professional advice on dealing with kitchen water damage from ice maker and dishwasher leaks, contact Rytech, Inc.

Flood Safety: How to Keep Your Pets and Family Safe in a Flood

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Because flooding is the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., a few flood safety tips are good advice at any time of year. Flooding may occur in the form of flash floods that happen with little or no warning or as a result of tropical storms or hurricanes preceded by days of official updates and alerts. Once rising water looms, however, flood safety steps to keep your family and pets safe are the same whether the flood is a surprise or an expected event.

  • When weather conditions that might trigger flooding occur, stay informed. Keep a radio tuned to a local station for flood alerts. If you live in an area designated as a floodplain, a NOAA Weather Radio that broadcasts up-to-date weather and flood warnings continuously is a good investment.
  • As the risk of flooding mounts, begin preparations now. Get family members together and gather valuable irreplaceable documents if you have time.
  • All pets should have an enclosed pet carrier for use in an evacuation. Dogs too large for a carrier should have collars on and leashes to keep them under control.
  • Obey evacuation orders. If you’re told to leave your home, turn off all electricity at the circuit breaker panel, and turn off the main gas valve, too, if you’re able. Leave quickly and go to the evacuation area you are directed to.
  • Don’t attempt to walk through flood waters. Fast-moving water only six inches deep carries enough velocity to knock an adult down.
  • More than half of flood-related drownings happen in a vehicle. Don’t drive through flooded roadways or fast-moving water. Stop. Turn around and drive toward higher ground elsewhere.
  • Avoid contact with flood water. It may contain biohazards like raw sewage or other toxic substances. Keep pets away from the water, too.
  • Don’t return to your home until you are advised by authorities that it is safe to do so.

For more information about effective flood safety, contact the water damage professionals at Rytech, Inc.

Landscaping Problems that Lead to Basement and Crawl Space Water Damage

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Basement and crawl space water damage can originate from both indoor and outdoor sources. Because they’re the lowest point in the house, basements and crawl spaces are often the final destination of water that leaks anywhere else inside the home. Rising groundwater from the soil beneath the house provides another source of basement and crawl space water damage. One of the major outdoor factors that promotes water intrusion at these lowest levels, however, is the landscaping surrounding the home. Water runs downhill and always follows the path of least resistance. These two facts dictate that the landscaping around your house either helps keep your basement and crawl space dry—or greatly contributes to water damage in those areas. Here are some things to do to make sure your landscaping isn’t working against you:

  • The grade of the landscape surrounding your home should be sloped away from the house so that water flows away from the foundation or crawl space. For the first four feet, the soil should slope downward about six inches to form a mini-berm that diverts water away and prevents pooling near the foundation or basement walls. Extending out into the yard, the slope can be more gentle, but there should be no areas of ground that slope toward the house.
  • If you are altering the landscape, always use clean, dense fill dirt for the area adjacent to the house—not topsoil. Porous topsoil provides little resistance to water soaking into the ground around the foundation, which then infiltrates through cracks in basement walls.
  • Flower beds next to the house may also promote basement and crawl space water damage. Beds generally comprise a large surface area of exposed, porous soil, readily absorbing water that then flows downward along the basement wall. Edgings around flower beds also cause water to pool, increasing ground absorption and infiltration into the house. Instead of flower beds immediately beside the house, landscaping with grass or other dense ground cover is recommended.

For more advice about preventing basement and crawl space water damage—or professional damage recovery services if it’s already a problem—contact Rytech, Inc.

How to Spot Water Damage in Your Home

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

how to spot water damage in your homeSome water damage in your home is easy to spot. If you’ve got a wading pool in your basement, for example, or a waterfall splish-splashing through the ceiling of a downstairs den, the matter is settled. However, other water damage can be much more subtle, as well as chronic, and may do significant damage before anyone in the house realizes what’s going on. Covert water leaks not only damage structural components, they are a primary source of moisture that triggers toxic mold growth. Be aware of these signs of silent water damage in your home and consult a professional water damage expert ASAP.

Unexplained Stains

Brown or dark stains on ceilings or walls are a red flag for water leakage. Since household water lines and drain pipes are typically routed through wall voids and beneath flooring, small leaks will eventually manifest as stains. By the time stains are visible, substantial damage may already be done.

Crumbly, Swollen Drywall

Drywall wicks up water very easily and swells, eventually deteriorating into crumbles. The wall material may feel soft to the touch and even disintegrate under pressure. Wet drywall is ground zero for mold growth.

Buckling Hardwood Floors

Absorbed water causes wood flooring boards to expand. Because they are nailed or otherwise secured at both ends, the boards will usually buckle due to the stress of expansion.

Hard Water Residue On Pipes

Spots of white, dusty residue on water supply lines may be evidence of tiny pinhole leaks that have been spontaneously sealed by hard water deposits. Minor pinholes on the outside of pipes often indicate major corrosion internally, which may cause a catastrophic pipe rupture and severe water damage at any time.

Suspicious Odors

The musty smell of unseen mildew is one giveaway: Mildew thrives in an atmosphere of continuous moisture, which may indicate a hidden, ongoing leak. Another indicator is the smell of rotting wood that may emanate from water seeping somewhere, saturating wooden structural members.

If you see or suspect signs of water damage in your home, contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.