Most Common Causes of Commercial Water Damage

water damage under wallpaper near baseboards

Water damage can lead to financial losses, operational disruptions and legal complications. Understanding the causes of water damage lets you proactively detect and address minor issues before they become more significant problems. By providing insights on preventive measures, we aim to equip businesses with the knowledge and strategies necessary to mitigate the risks of water damage. 

Exploring the Causes of Commercial Water Damage

Several issues can lead to water damage in businesses. Here are the top four causes and how your business can conquer them.

1. Plumbing System Issues

Plumbing system issues reign supreme as the most common water damage claims. The intricate network of pipes, fixtures and drains within a commercial property can be prone to various problems, leading to extensive interior flood damage if left unchecked. 

Plumbing issues can result in leaks, burst pipes or backups, causing water to escape its intended path. As water seeps into walls, floors or ceilings, it infiltrates the building’s structure and poses a significant risk to the surrounding areas. The accumulated moisture can lead to rot and mold growth and compromise the property’s integrity.

  • Leaky pipes: The constant moisture from a leaking pipe can cause hidden damage, such as weakened foundations or mold growth, which can remain undetected until the issue escalates.
  • Burst pipes: Sudden pipe bursts can result from freezing temperatures, excessive water pressure or deterioration. The forceful release of water can flood areas within minutes, causing immediate damage to walls, floors and valuable contents. The impact can be particularly severe if the burst occurs in areas with sensitive electronics or critical documents.
  • Drain backups: Clogged drains can cause wastewater to back up and overflow, leading to unsanitary conditions and potential health hazards. Clogs can occur in bathrooms, kitchens or utility rooms and quickly spread contaminants throughout the affected areas.
Roofing defects create vulnerabilities for water

2. Roofing and Structural Defects

Roofing and structural defects create vulnerabilities that allow water to infiltrate a commercial property. Whether it’s a compromised roof membrane, deteriorated flashing or cracks in the foundation, these weaknesses pave the way for water to seep into the building. Over time, this moisture can wreak havoc, leading to mold growth, structural degradation and damage to interior assets.

  •  Damaged roof membrane: A worn-out roof membrane can result from weather exposure, age or improper installation. Such damage exposes the underlying layers to water penetration, causing leaks and potential structural damage. The consequences range from water stains and compromised insulation to rotting framework and compromised interior finishes.
  • Faulty flashing: Flashing is responsible for sealing roof transitions. If water seeps through it, it will enter the building at vulnerable points such as skylights, chimneys or vents.
  • Cracked foundation: A weak foundation allows water to enter the building. Over time, groundwater infiltration can exacerbate the problem, leading to flooded basements or crawlspaces.

3. Weather-Related Incidents

Business owners must prepare to mitigate the risks associated with severe weather conditions. Extreme weather events, including heavy rainfall, storms, hurricanes or snowstorms, can substantially threaten commercial properties. Intense precipitation or high winds can compromise the building envelope, allowing water to infiltrate the structure. Rapid snowmelt or excessive runoff can also overload drainage systems, leading to water backups and potential flooding.

  • Heavy rainfall: Prolonged or intense rainfall accumulation can infiltrate the building through cracks, faulty seals or inadequate waterproofing.
  • Storm surges or coastal flooding: Properties located in coastal areas face the risk of storm surges or flooding during hurricanes or powerful storms. The forceful impact of surging water can breach exterior barriers.
  • Snow and ice: Snow accumulation or ice buildup on rooftops and gutters can create dams that prevent proper water drainage. The weight of the snow or ice can also stress the roof, leading to leaks or collapses. Additionally, rapid snowmelt can overload drainage systems.

4. Faulty or Malfunctioning Equipment

Property owners tend to focus on external factors, but sometimes water damage comes from equipment failures. When commercial equipment malfunctions or fails, it can lead to water leaks, overflow or uncontrolled discharge. The source of the problem can range from HVAC systems, water heaters or sprinkler systems to commercial appliances and plumbing fixtures. Failure of these components can result in significant water damage, affecting the immediate vicinity, adjacent areas and valuable assets.

  • Water supply line leaks: If left unaddressed, faulty or deteriorated water supply lines can cause extensive water damage, affecting floors, walls and nearby equipment.
  • HVAC system failures: Malfunctioning air conditioning or poorly maintained HVAC units can lead to condensation buildup or leaks. The excess moisture can cause water damage to ceilings, walls and flooring and create an environment conducive to mold growth.
  • Sprinkler system malfunctions: Defective fire sprinkler systems or accidental activation can release significant water into the building. 

Tips for Awareness and Implementing Preventive Measures

While it is crucial to understand the various causes of commercial water damage, it is equally essential to promote awareness and implement preventive measures to minimize the risk of such incidents. 

  • Educate employees: Train employees to identify potential water damage. Encourage them to promptly report any issues such as leaks or dampness.
  • Conduct regular maintenance inspections: Schedule routine inspections of all equipment and facilities, including plumbing systems, roofing and structural components.
  • Install water detection and monitoring systems: Water detection and monitoring systems can alert you to any signs of leaks or abnormal water flow.
  • Develop a water damage response plan: Create a response that outlines the steps to take in a water damage incident. Assign roles and responsibilities to employees.
  • Hire qualified professionals: Certified technicians can correctly complete maintenance and repairs, reducing the risk of water damage incidents.
  • Invest in water-resistant materials: Consider using water-resistant materials and protective measures, such as water barriers, waterproof coatings and sealants, to help prevent water damage.
schedule professional water cleanup

Schedule Your Professional Commercial Water Cleanup

While businesses can independently implement many preventive strategies, partnering with a professional water damage restoration company like Alliance Environmental can provide invaluable expertise and comprehensive solutions. With our specialized knowledge and advanced equipment, we can effectively assess, mitigate and restore water damage, minimizing downtime and ensuring a swift recovery.

Don’t let water damage compromise your business operations any longer. If your business is within our service area, schedule a thorough assessment and personalized solutions. Protect your commercial property, assets and livelihood.

Take the first step toward a water-damage-resistant future. Contact us today and secure your business’ safety and success.

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