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Water damage: causes, types and solutions

Water damage can have various origins: flooding, blockages, infiltrations, broken pipes. Systems can unexpectedly damage homes, businesses, condominiums, shops.

In case of heavy rain or hail water can enter from breaks on the roof or windows; it can flood entire rooms due to the breakdown of a water system; it can rise from clogged manholes or invade entire cities in the event of river floods.

According to a 2017 European survey, 71% of Italians experienced some form of domestic water damage, a higher percentage than in the rest of Europe (54%). The average cost of damages was € 2,857, of which € 1,800 was reimbursed by the insurance companies.

Whether it affects private homes, companies or public buildings, water damage often causes huge costs, and can also pose a risk to people’s safety and health. It takes 24 hours for humidity to start developing mold which can also cause problems with the respiratory system (eg. Asthma and allergies).

What are the causes

Other possible causes for water damage include:

  • water infiltration from roofs and balconies;
  • design flaws in buildings (not very resistant materials) or systems;
  • clogging.

Still according to European data, in 65% of cases water damage is caused by pipes.

The pipes can burst due to excessive water pressure, sharp changes in temperature or corrosion, but also due to tree roots or movement/settlement of the foundations. Clogging of a pipe can also break them.

The losses at the origin of water damage can be essentially of two types:

  • obvious, i.e. water leaks;
  • occult, or infiltrations.

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Water leaks

Water leaks are almost always evident. They are revealed by traces of wet on walls or floors.

For example, a noticeable water leak can result from a broken pipe or a dripping tap.

But a leak of water (drinking, rain or drainage) can also affect the water, sanitation, heating or air conditioning systems of homes, companies or public buildings.

Water infiltration

Water infiltration is much more insidious, because it is difficult to detect. It can remain hidden for a long time, because it is usually caused by breakages in underground, buried or embedded water systems, which cannot be directly detected from the outside. This can have important repercussions both in terms of the costs of water damage and in terms of the stability and health of the property.

Some possible physical signals could allow identifying water infiltrations:

  • musty smell and presence of mold, if water has impregnated construction materials or wood, plasterboard, carpet, etc.;
  • discoloration and damp spots on the walls;
  • deformed walls, with swollen surfaces and peeling paint;
  • deformed or sagging floors.

Also a very low water pressure or an unjustifiably high bill could be signs of hidden water losses.


The best solution for water damage is definitely prevention. Designing plants and buildings correctly, using materials capable of coping with extreme external events, is certainly the first step.

Regular maintenance of the systems is also a good strategy to prevent possible water damage.

Taking out insurance that at least partially covers the costs arising from water damage is obviously very useful.

Finally, the installation of a water flow monitoring system, capable of promptly reporting any anomalies in water consumption, can also be useful for accelerating the detection times of even hidden leaks, and indirectly helping to prevent or reduce any damage from water.


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