Understanding the Five Stages of Water DamageWhen water damage in Cincinnati and surrounding Ohio homes occurs, there are five specific stages of water damage. Treatment must be quick and appropriate to limit the severity of the damage. The need for emergency service should become very apparent as we review the five stages of water damage.

At first, water migrates from the source horizontally in all directions. Given time, water penetrates over, under, and through the bottom plates of the walls. Eventually if not contained or removed, the water flows into the adjoining rooms. Saturation occurs as gravity pulls moisture deeper into structural flooring materials.

As wood and other hygroscopic materials readily take up and absorb moisture, they become saturated and begin to swell. Furniture, hardwood floors, and even plywood underlayment can warp, buckle, and/or delaminate. The longer everything remains wet will directly impact the chances of irreversible damage done by the water.

As standing water evaporates, the humidity can increase beyond 60%. This abnormal humidity will begin to affect books, pictures, paintings and other hygroscopic materials, causing secondary damage. The water may “wick” up vertically affecting the drywall, insulation, and framing. Draperies and upholstery can also develop water rings as water comes into contact with these materials and begins to “wick” up the fabric.

In time, fungi and bacteria spores can germinate and multiply in organic materials. As fungi damage continues, the indoor air quality degrades rapidly. Bacteria, fungi, and viruses become hyperactive in this moist environment. Beyond any possible damage, health risks can arise if not addressed or handled appropriately.

Fast response normally prevents water damage from moving through all 5 stages. You must always have a great sense of urgency and respond quickly when dealing with water damage. In all situations, the underlying cause of water accumulation must be rectified. If not corrected, mold growth will re-occur even after drying. It is imperative that water infiltration is corrected as quickly as possible after the onset of damage.