Roof leaks? Yes, but they are not as common in Phoenix as outside of Arizona
People may think that water leaking through a damaged roof during a storm is one of the most common sources of water damage in Arizona. Outside of Phoenix, leaking roofs can be a very serious problem almost any time of the year. However, in the dry parts of Arizona (like Phoenix as well as Tucson), a leaking roof causing water damage in Arizona is only common during of a few seasons of the year. In fact, the most common source of water leaking into your home in Arizona is water that is already inside of your home.
Leaking water lines (like in your bathroom plumbing) often cause water damage and even mold contamination
One of the most common sources of water damage in Arizona that we see here regularly is actually from the water line that connects to the refrigerator (the plumbing that provides water for the ice maker). In fact, last week (in mid-February of 2016), our restoration company performed two emergency repair services in which the source of the water damage were leaks from that water line to the ice maker in the refrigerator.
Not only can those leaks lead to extensive water damage and the need to remove or extract the leaked water, but mold contamination. The mold damage can spread quickly, resulting in the need to remodel the entire kitchen (including replacing the walls, cabinets, and countertops). Also, whatever other rooms are adjacent to that wet wall in the kitchen can also get moisture intrusion.
What did the homeowners in Arizona notice that led to the call for a restoration service?
In one case, the homeowners noticed that when they stepped on their laminate wood flooring in their living room, it started to move. Over time, it gradually began to move even more. Each time they stepped on it, it sunk down a little bit, almost like walking on mud or snow.
Eventually, the flooring was responding like when pushing on a balloon or a water bed. When they stepped in one place, it would sink down some under each step while raising up nearby parts of the flooring. That was a clear sign of water underneath the flooring.
How bad was the water damage caused by that small leak in the kitchen?
So, the leaking water was flooding down the walls behind the refrigerator, just following the paths of least resistance by gravity. By the time the home owners found it, we think that the water had been running for about two or three days.
By that time, the water damage had ruined all their laminate wood flooring, all their cabinets, and all their countertops. That was all because of a tiny leak in the cheap plastic line to the ice maker.
So when that type of plastic water line fails, they usually burst. Unless the break in the line is just a tiny pinhole (which is typical of copper water lines), then the leak will constantly gush out a stream of water. So, since the water leak is behind the refrigerator and hidden by the the cabinets, people would not see the leak from just normal activities like walking through the kitchen to open the fridge.
What did we do to help with that water damage in Arizona?
After they contacted our restoration company and we arrived, then we got out our infrared cameras and other specialized equipment for detecting moisture levels. We located the source of the leaking water. We moved the refrigerator and of course stopped the leaking of the water.
Next was actually contacting the insurance company to assist the homeowner in the filing of the claim for the repair of the water damage in Arizona. We talked to the insurance company for them and explained what was going on. As expected, the insurance company immediately approved emergency repairs.
We pulled out the effected materials including the drywall. We sprayed everything with an anti-microbial solution to make sure that their would be no additional bacterial issues. We started the fans to accelerate the drying process.
Once we had finished the restoration service, there was still the issue of replacing the water line to the ice maker. Instead of another plastic water line, we used a much better quality water line: a braided line made of stainless steel.
The value of high-quality plumbing: plastic, copper, or braided water lines?
Braided water lines are the best. What we recommend that homeowners always use is a quarter-inch braided water line. In fact, with both of these two leak restoration jobs last week, that was the replacement water line that we installed. Those are about thirty dollars.
Plastic is the worst (the cheapest in every sense of the word “cheap”). It is about ten dollars for a 25 foot kit.
The copper water lines are about seventeen dollars. They are more reliable than the plastic, but only slightly better (because when they fail, the damage can be even worse by the time it is detected).
What exactly is the problem with the standard copper lines? Typically, those lines get slightly moved around over time and pressure bends the copper so that it develops a tiny pinhole leak. That is a very slow leak so the damage is not quickly apparent. In other words, the water is leaking for a longer period of time before detection and so the damage would be much worse.
How do braided water lines protect from serious water damage in Arizona?
No water lines last forever. The nice thing about those braided water lines is that when they eventually fail, they drip.
They do not burst like plastic and send a flood of water all over the place. They do not form pinhole leaks like copper, which lead to a small but steady flow of moisture to the wall behind the fridge, resulting in mold contamination and health issues.
So, the braided water lines will fail eventually of course, but when they fail, they will simply drip. Dripping is so easy to notice!
Again, it doesn’t create the mess and widespread water damage that the other water lines will cause when they fail. Insurance covers the water damage but not the repair and replacement of the plumbing. Literally, homeowners who select cheap water lines are saving a tiny amount of money in exchange for losing a huge amount of time and trouble if they have a serious water damage caused by a bad leak from cheap plumbing materials.
How was the leak in the copper plumbing detected by the homeowner?
They had tile in their house. They saw the color of the grout between the tiles changing color. The water gets under the tiles and under the grout. The water started to bubble up from under the grout.
How did the emergency restoration team help with that leak?
When they called us in, they did not know where the water was coming from, which is often the case. So, the first thing that we do again is to find the source of the leak and cut off the water to the leaking plumbing.
(In both of the cases last week of leaks leading to emergency water damage restoration services, we had to turn the water off at the street. The reason for that was that the shut-off valves inside the house were not working and so we replaced those as well. For more information about the precautions that we recommend, contact us today or click the link at the bottom to read our article on the value of annual plumbing inspections.)
Because the leak from the copper line was a small, slow leak, there was a huge amount of mold all over the back of the kitchen cabinets. So, in that case, the actual complications to the homeowner are much larger. They were not able to use their kitchen for a long time because of all the protocols we had to use to prevent mold spores from spreading through the air to other parts of their home.
The leaking copper line led to a major damage from water as well as mold
So, the restoration contractors will have to use protective sheeting to contain the mold in those rooms before we start to remove the contaminated materials. We block off the air space so that mold spores do not spread throughout the interior of the house.
Ultimately, we will do all the same steps that we would do whenever we repair water damage in Arizona. First, before we set the fans down to begin the drying, we have to sand down surfaces and clean very thoroughly to make sure that the mold is killed and contained. Then we test for the presence of mold to confirm that it is finally safe to proceed with removing the contaminated surfaces.