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The Dangers of Delaying Water Damage Restoration

Written By BlueTeam  |  February 13, 2023

Commercial properties are as vulnerable to flood and water damage as residential properties. Flooding can be a nightmare for business owners because it leads to costly water damage, business disruptions, and potential health hazards. Whether you’re dealing with water damage due to poor drainage, a plumbing issue, or a natural disaster, you’ll want to work with the experts in water damage restoration. Since these professionals know how to minimize the damage and bring your building back to its pre-damaged condition, they’ll help you get back to business as soon as possible.   

moldy wall that needs water damage restoration

Areas at Risk of Flooding

In recent years, flooding has become one of the most common natural disasters on the planet, occurring in places where it used to be unheard of. Moreover, the National Flood Insurance Program confirms that floods affect 20% of property owners yearly. 

Areas at risk of flood damage typically include low-lying areas near water, canyons, and areas behind a lever or downstream from a dam. However, dry stream beds, gullies, ditches, small streams, creeks, and low-lying grounds that may look safe in dry weather are also at risk of flooding. 

What Are the Different Water Damage Categories?

Various incidents can lead to extensive water damage that requires significant resources, time, and money to resolve. In such situations, business owners and their staff typically vacate the affected area and temporarily close the property as multiple professionals handle repairs, restoration, and reconstruction. These professionals often include restoration companies, plumbers, electricians, and mold remediation specialists.

The experts classify water damage into different categories based on risk levels: minimum, moderate, and maximum risk. It’s worth noting that these risks could change rapidly depending on the commercial property’s location, size, complexity, and the type of materials affected by the water.

Category 1: Minimum Risks

Minimum risk water damage in commercial properties refers to minor incidents that professionals easily contain and clean up. Since this type of water damage typically involves clean water from a sink overflow, a broken water line to a refrigerator, or rainwater infiltration, it represents the lowest health risk.

Since the damage these incidents cause is generally limited to the immediate area where the water has leaked, property owners dealing with minimum risk water damage are likely to salvage damaged building materials and furnishings. Addressing the issue won’t require a significant disruption to the property or its operations, and the cost of repairs and clean-up is often low and can be resolved without using specialized equipment.

However, response time should be within 24 to 48 hours. Otherwise, mold and microbial growth will start to lower the water quality and cause further damage to the property.

Category 2: Moderate Risk

Moderate risk water damage refers to incidents that have the potential to cause more significant damage requiring more resources and time to resolve. These incidents include water from storm drain back-ups, surface water, treated cooling water, fire suppression systems, discharges from equipment, broken pipes in the wall, flooded basements, or clogged drains that cause water to overflow into the building.

Since such incidents can cause widespread damage to multiple rooms or other areas of the property, repairs may require specialized equipment and the services of a professional water damage restoration company. Damaged property materials are much more difficult to save in this scenario.

Water in Category 2 presents a higher risk of infection or disease to untrained individuals who come into direct contact with the affected area due to contamination and microbial growth. For this reason, property owners looking to cut costs by handling the restoration and repairs put themselves at risk of developing health issues.

Category 3: Maximum Risk

Maximum risk water damage refers to incidents that have the potential to cause severe damage to the building. It can also seriously threaten the health and safety of the people on the property upon direct and indirect contact. Since water in Category 3 comes from rivers, seawater, surface water, and sewers, it presents the highest risk of containing disease-causing viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Additionally, it may contain allergenic and toxic materials.  wall that leaks water and needs water damage restoration

What Happens When Commercial Property Owners Delay Water Damage Restoration?

Commercial properties carry the risk of damage caused by flooding. Besides facing costly insurance claims, businesses deal with damage to equipment and loss of property value. For these reasons, immediate water damage restoration is necessary after a flood hits your commercial building. Failing to act within 24 to 48 hours will cause further damage from mold, wood rot, bacteria, and many others.

Exposure to Pathogens

If you’re dealing with a flood, it may contain disease-causing bacteria. Without timely flood restoration services, these substances can pose serious health problems. The building’s occupants may suffer exposure to pathogens such as Salmonella and E. Coli.

While most individuals with Salmonella infection experience symptoms that begin six hours to six days after getting infected, some don’t develop symptoms for a few weeks after infection. These symptoms include fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps, usually lasting four to seven days. 

Alternatively, people exposed to Salmonella may experience occasional fever, bloody diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Although symptoms usually start three to four days after infection, some people notice them any time between one and 14 days.

Chemical Exposure

Contaminated floodwaters can also contain dangerous chemicals and pollutants. These substances can cause poisoning when people ingest or touch contaminated water. Moreover, sewer line backup can trigger symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, respiratory issues, and skin irritation.

Furthermore, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to chemicals in contaminated water, leading to skin rashes, itching, and difficulty breathing. Some chemicals in contaminated floodwater may trigger chemical burns upon skin contact. 

Mold and Mildew Growth

Mold and microbes grow within hours of exposure to excess dampness and moisture. Studies show that leaving wet drywall untreated for 48 hours can lead to excessive mold growth. The longer the floodwater sits in the commercial building, the more mold and microbes breed, producing unpleasant odors that eventually find their way into the carpeting, furniture, and other items.

In addition, leaving mold and mildew growth untreated can cause allergies, asthma attacks, and other respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, and sneezing. It can also trigger skin inflammation, eye irritation, nausea, and immune system issues.

Structural Damage

Water damage can weaken or compromise the building’s structural integrity. Without prompt flood restoration, its critical components, such as walls or ceilings, may collapse, resulting in costly repairs requiring earth-moving and excavation for damaged or shifting foundations. 

Additionally, concrete cancer may stem from prolonged exposure to air and water. This problem occurs when the steel reinforcing within a concrete slab starts to rust due to heavy rains or moisture seeping through cracks and voids. As the chemicals in the steel oxidize and corrode, the steel expands and displaces the surrounding concrete. As a result, the concrete becomes brittle until it cracks, exacerbating the problem.

Furthermore, flash floods that carry boulders and other large debris can cause heavy structural damage to commercial properties, making them unsafe. In some cases, the force of the water can carry away large pieces of property, such as vehicles. Although some commercial property owners try to clear smaller debris from their buildings, it’s always best to hire a professional to handle larger jobs. 

Secondary Damages

Delaying the restoration process may lead to secondary damages, including furniture, personal belongings, and other items becoming unsalvageable. Besides leaving stains on them, flooding can also cause walls, ceilings, flooring, and other fixtures to deteriorate, break apart, and fall off. It can also cause significant damage to electrical systems, posing a fire hazard. The longer the standing water is present, the greater the potential for secondary damages. 

Increased Costs

As mentioned, the commercial building and its contents suffer more damage as the excess water remains. Unless property managers engage a professional flood restoration service provider, damages will accumulate over time, leading to increased water removal, decontamination, clean-up, replacements, and reconstruction costs.

Delaying flood restoration can also impact insurance costs. Insurance companies typically charge higher premiums when they view properties that sustained flood damage as higher risk. Consequently, the longer the delay in addressing the damage, the greater the risk of additional damage, including rot, mold growth, and structural degradation. 

Longer and Costlier Claim Disputes

Delays in water damage restoration can cause additional damage to any commercial property. These delays increase the risk of disputes between the property owner and the insurance company because they complicate the process of identifying the extent and cause of additional damage. 

In addition, delaying the restoration process increases the likelihood of losing evidence of the damage, such as documentation and photographs. It’s important to note that loss of evidence makes it more challenging for property owners to support the insurance claim. The claim processing period will take longer because insurance companies require more evidence and documentation for additional damage.

Reputation Damage

Ignoring water damage can cause damage to a commercial property’s reputation and brand. Furthermore, disruptions to operations will eventually lead to a decline in customer confidence, reduced foot traffic, and decreased property value.    woman concerned about damaged and moldy roof that needs water damage restoration

Does Your Property Require Water Damage Restoration?

Assessing the risk level of water damage incidents and ensuring prompt restoration minimizes the potential for damage, business disruptions, and additional costs.

The restoration specialists at BlueTeam are prepared for your water damage issues. We’re a nationally licensed, bonded, and insured full-service general contractor specializing in providing customized solutions for properties that sustain damage. Get in touch with us today to request a demo or a quote.  

We are your trusted partner in times of need.