Water Damage Timeline By The Numbers

How Does Water Damage Effect Your Home If Not Addressed?

Water damage isn’t something to mess around with. That’s why we recommend acting as soon as you spot water damage in your home! It is another reason why our team of experts operates 24/7 and, most importantly, urgently. With 70% of homes currently having a mold problem, being able to take the right steps when the first signs arise can alleviate increased renovation costs, health problems, and even insurance claims. Water damages homes differently depending on the extent of the problem but can be categorized into two types: health-related effects and structural problems that affect a house’s construction or design (e.g., floors) When it comes to how long it takes for water damage to take effect and how it affects you and you home, the key is to spot the signs early. Here is a general water damage timeline and what you can expect as a homeowner.

Water Damage Timeline: The first few minutes


Once water damage occurs, it only takes a few minutes to really do some damage.  

In the first few minutes, water quickly spreads throughout the property, saturating everything within its immediate path. This could include walls, floors, baseboards, even your foundation. It is hard to see the signs of water damage saturation happening as this usually happens in areas that are not visible on the surface; however, there are devices such as the www.leaksmart.com device which can be installed and can make you aware of leaks within your piping system if that is the cause of your water damage. This will allow you to turn off your water system to prevent the water from spreading. 

Through the next few minutes to one hour, water saturation continues to have a negative impact on the walls, floors, and upholstery of your property. Finishes on furniture become sensitive and begin to turn white due to water exposure. Water damage may also occur in items like photographs or books which will start swelling or warping because of high humidity levels caused by excessive moisture  

As you can see from the above example, it is not only important for homeowners, but business owners as well should be mindful about constant monitoring their structure, so they do not run into any problems with damages later down the line such as carpets losing coloration & item finishes bleeding.  

A positive thing here is that water damage has no effect on one’s health during this time. This is where things get tricky for most people as they cannot physically feel any repercussions from such an issue nor are their homes affected by damages causing them difficulty seeing problems with their houses, but never being able to notice anything wrong would mean having allowed harmful molds and fungi into one’s residence without realizing dangers posed until later when complaints. 

Our team recommends: The best way to avoid this stage of water damage growth is practicing proper prevention measures and installing devices to alert you of water damage. It is almost impossible to completely prevent water damage from occurring in the time you live in your home, however, there are actions you can take to lower the risk. Water damage is often naked to the human eye until the first hour to 24 hours. To alleviate this, it is best to install detection software like the www.leaksmart.com device which can make you aware of water damage within your plumbing system and shut your system off before it spreads and becomes too late.  

Water Damage Timeline: The first hour to 24 hours

Water damage is about noticing the signs early so you can act fast. If you notice that normal household odors are beginning to intensify, it may be because of water damage. Water can cause mold and mildew growth which emits a strong odor. Within the first 24 hours after discovery, there will begin to emerge an unpleasant smell from your home due to severe humidity levels in moist areas such as basements and crawlspaces where moisture has penetrated drywall or insulation materials. If this is not addressed quickly enough by remediation professionals who specialize in structural drying services, then elevated levels of microorganisms (mold) could lead to further health concerns for those living within the property’s proximity. 

Another sign that is common within the first hour-24 hours is swelling and breaking down of drywall. While drywall is sturdy stuff, it can sustain damage when exposed to water for too longThe reason for this is the mold buildup that happens when drywall is exposed to too much water damage.  

An additional sign that begins to occur within the first 24 hours of water damage is metal surfaces beginning to tarnish. The reason for this is because of a chemical reaction that happens between metal and non-metal. A fitting example of this is sulfur dioxide and oxygen. Once they become exposed to each other, a thin layer of corrosion forms and tarnishes the shine of the metal.  

A further thing that may happen is laminated furniture will begin to swell and or split along with finishing beginning to crack. For example, our team works with a lot of veneer furniture in water damage cases. Veneer furniture is only a thin layer attached with glue to a solid base making it very vulnerable to damage on wooden furniture. On old furniture, you run the risk of blistering, cracking, or peeling because the glue that holds the veneer together is often not water-resistant.  

When it comes to your health, there are few changes currently. People with a little more sensitive sense of smell may notice the odor changes and become nauseous because of the pungent smell but as far as significant changes, that will come in the following days – weeks.  

Our team recommends: Shutting off your water line and calling a professional as soon as possible. When it comes to water damage there are two different solutions to problems that may occur, prevention and remedy. At this stage of water damage, prevention is no longer a solution. The only remedy at this stage is to shut off your water line and call a professional out to your home to assess the damage and take corrective action immediately.  

Water Damage Timeline: 48 Hours to One Week  

As you can see from the above examples, water damage acts fast and it does not stop after just 24 hours. Over the course of the next few days to one week, a lot happens. Namely the spread of Mold, mildew, and other contaminants. This is in part due to the source of the water damage not being addressed, but it also has a lot to do with the chemicals in the paint that is used to paint your house and your drywall. 

Another thing that happens during this time is unprotected metals begin to rust, corrode, and pit. Metal and non-metal chemicals interact with each other and depending on the metal will depend on the severity of the rusting and corrosion.  

Somewhere between the 48 hours (about 2 days) to the one-week timeline of water damage occurring, you will also notice furniture warping and showing signs of mold. Furniture is not built to withstand a heavy amount of water damage. Because of this, furniture will show signs of mold, warping and continue to show signs of bleeding during the first 48 hours (about 2 days) to one week of water damage occurring.  

When water damage occurs in the first 48 hours (about 2 days) to one week, paint begins to peel and turn into a moist texture. This is because chemicals in the paint deteriorate when they encounter moisture for an extended amount of time. You may notice painted surfaces blistering too as well as adhesives breaking down releasing liquid or sticky substance everywhere which can be extremely dangerous if touched by bare skin without protection like gloves etcetera. 

Another bad sign during water damage within 48 hours (about 2 days) up until one – week is that painting will start peeling off while feeling wet underneath your fingers due to chemical reactions inside them from exposure over extended periods of time. 

In addition to paint blistering, you will also notice wood flooring beginning to swell, warp or even buckle. Wood flooring is not built to withstand copious amounts of water damage for prolonged periods of time. During this time, you may notice buckling, warping, and swelling of wood floors more specifically for laminate flooring but this is also applicable to other types of wood flooring such as ash, oak, and walnut.

The 48 hours (about 2 days) to the one-week timeline is when significant health problems begin to occur. People with respiratory issues or compromised immune systems could begin to experience distress or a heightened sense of allergens from microbial growth. Mold is the most serious health problem to be exposed to for people in the compromised immune system category. This is likely because there are several types of molds. Another major concern for people with compromised immune systems or respiratory issues is the collection of bacteria. Bacteria can collect in any part of the house but are more likely where there is water damage because of the conditions set by water damage. Conditions like a warm, wet, and enclosed area. Bacteria is particularly harmful because it spreads infections throughout the body. Infections like Athletes’ foot, Chronic Sinusitis, etc. can all be heightened when exposed to bacteria caused by water damage.  

Our team recommends: Calling a local professional and assessing any potential health problems. If you have anyone in your house with compromised immune systems, respiratory issues, or even just to be safe, it may be a great idea to have them checked for health problems that may have arisen because of the mold or bacteria buildup. Remember, early infection detection is key when preventing long-term health problems. Mold can either be completely harmless or extremely toxic, the problem is, when you have mold build-up due to water damage, you do not know which one is which. Therefore, it is best to have everyone in the household checked for health problems just as a precautionary measure.

Water Damage Timeline: More Than 1 Week

If not taken care of within 1 week, water damage will worsen.  

Not only do the above examples continue to get worse, but now there is also a big bill for repairs that you must pay off. In some cases, the cost is even higher due to certain circumstances such as renovation costs and insurance claims increasing which can be frustrating if they are more than expected.  

Another unexpected cost of leaving water damage unattended is structural safety and health concerns that pose a serious threat to the occupants of the home. This could make for an added expense as they must find other living arrangements while renovations take place. On the topic of physical health, you could have added medical expenses during this time as well for persons with compromised health problems, and the health struggles from letting water damage become unattended to can often be long term due to being exposed to things like mold.  

Our team recommends: If you have someone in the house that has a compromised immune system or is prone to infections and illness, get them out of the house immediately and to a safer location. Take them to friends or family members houses where they are safe until the water damage is taken care of. Additionally, we also recommend, if you have not already to call a local professional to restore the water damage.  


While water damage can have varying effects on everyone, the water damage timeline is consistent from house to house. Overall, water damage effects more than just your house, it also negatively impacts your physical and mental wellbeing by causing various problems such as mold growth which might have a negative impact on your health at the end of the day. Not to mention that it costs money too because you would need to spend it on repairing or restoring everything back again from scratch if left unattended for a long time! The best way to ensure your home is not affected by water damage is through prevention. If you cannot prevent water damage from occurring, then take corrective action quickly as this will ensure minimal loss without affecting both you and your wallet adversely. 

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