Water damage in a business or home can have devastating consequences. From structural damage to the potential spread of disease, water infiltration and damage at a commercial or residential property can present extremely serious problems and issues. As part of understanding how to defend against and remediate the negative consequences of water infiltrating a property, you need to appreciate the main causes of water damage:

  • Broken or leaky pipes
  • Clogged or overflowing toilets and sinks
  • Heavy rainfall
  • Flooding
  • Hurricanes and other major weather events

Broken or Leaky Pipes

One of the most common causes of water damage in a commercial or residential property is broken or leaky pipes. Pipes serve to bring fresh water into a building and to takeaway wastewater. While pipes serving a commercial or residential property are designed and constructed to be long-lasting, they are not perfect. 

A wise property owner undertakes a close inspection of incoming and outgoing pipes at least once if not twice a year. If even a small leak is detected, action should be taken immediately to rectify the problem. The reality is that a small leak can develop into a major problem suddenly and without warning. 

If a major leak occurs with an incoming freshwater pipe, the damage can prove to be profound. If that type of leak occurs with a wastewater pipe, not only will there be water damage but biohazard contamination. Remediating that type of situation can be challenging, virtually overwhelming.

Clogged or Overflowing Toilets and Sinks

Beyond pipe-related issues, a common cause of water damage in a commercial or residential property is found in overflowing toilets, sinks, showers, tubs, washing machines, and the like. A business owner or homeowner oftentimes is able to contain the damage caused by overflow if the situation is immediately caught. However, even small amounts of overflow can present a significant problem.

Situations involving overflow nearly always involve either gray or black water. Gray and black water are terms applied to contaminated water. Gray water contains non-biohazardous substances like detergent or soap. Black water contains biohazards like human waste. Eliminating black water contamination requires intensive biohazard remediation to restore the premises to a safe condition. 

Heavy Rainfall

Ideally, a commercial or residential structure is designed with heavy rainfall in mind. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Moreover, even an appropriately designed structure may not be crafted to withstand something like a rare 1,000-year storm. In addition, over time, defects can occur at or around a structure that impairs proper rainwater runoff. 

In the event of heavy rainfall, excessive water can pool around the structure, harming the foundation and the exterior walls of the building. This can result in water entering into the structure, causing further damage.

Defects in the surface of a building’s roof can also result in water damage in the event of heavy rainfall. The process can begin with water draining into the attic. In short speed, water and moisture can impact other parts of a building as well. 


Flooding is a major cause of water damage to structures of all types, including commercial and residential properties. Even more minor flooding can result in a complex cleanup and remediation situation in a commercial or residential property. 

A myriad of harmful substances can be brought into a building as the result of flooding. These include:

  • Dirt
  • Debris
  • Plant matter
  • Animal matter and waste
  • Human waste
  • Other biohazardous material
  • Hazardous chemicals

As a consequence, when it comes to flood water cleanup, the recommended course is to engage a professional with the experience and resources to remediate more than just water and water damage. The need exists to be able to safely and thoroughly undertake a full spectrum of biohazard and chemical remediation as well. 

Hurricanes, Tornados, and Other Major Weather Events

Finally, when it comes to the primary causes of commercial or residential water damage, hurricanes, tornados, and other major weather events are on the list. Hurricanes and tornados nearly always are accompanied by significant rain. In addition, flooding from bodies of water like rivers, lakes, and ocean shorelines can result in serious and even catastrophic water damage to businesses, homes, and other structures as the result of hurricanes and tornadoes. The fact is that in many cases, water damage is more significant than that caused by wind during hurricanes and tornadoes. 

As a side note, flood damage is likely excluded from a homeowner’s insurance policy or a business casualty insurance policy. In the aftermath of a hurricane or tornado, insurance companies strive to have damage caused by such a weather event as being the result of water and flooding rather than powerful wind. This can present a significant challenge to a home or business owner when seeking insurance coverage in the aftermath of a hurricane or tornado.