Damage Report: Water Intrusion

Damage Report: Water Intrusion

"Water intrusion"...dreaded by homeowners, contractors, and insurance adjusters alike. It is evident why, as it ranks as the second most common cause for property insurance claims and first for the most expensive type of claim. In addition, water intrusion accounts for 70% of construction litigation. On average, each incident costs $11,098; collectively, water intrusion costs over $20 billion annually throughout the United States. The Forum Forensics team is familiar with water intrusion, how to identify it, the common causes, and the damage it can leave behind, as presented below.

Signs of Water Intrusion

One of the reasons water intrusion is the most expensive type of claim is that it rapidly creates damage if it is not resolved immediately. Because water can permeate most materials and surfaces, the damage is often far more extensive than just the source of the leak. Below are things to look, listen for, and smell to prevent extensive damage.

Early Stage:

  • Slight discoloration of the walls, ceiling, or floor.
  • Cracking, bubbling, or flaking of the drywall.
  • Flooring, Walls, or, Ceilings are damp to the touch.
  • Dripping Sounds

Intermediate Stage:

  • Visible discoloration of the walls, ceiling, or floor with a ring-like pattern. (See below)
  • Sagging, cracking, or softening of the walls, ceiling, or floor.
  • Visible water dripping or pooling near the visible damage.
  • Mold or mildew smell
  • Utility bill increase
  • The sound of running water

Critical Stage:

  • Obvious discoloration of the walls, ceiling, or floor, usually mold or mildew is visible.
  • Standing or pooling water. 
  • Bulging, sagging, buckling, or failure of the walls, ceiling, or floor.


After noticing water damage, the source must be identified to stop the intrusion. The most common causes of water intrusion are:

Weather Events - Approximately 33% of water damage claims are due to catastrophic weather events. In these instances, it also results in catastrophic damage to the structure. 

Interior Leaks - Over 63% of water damage claims are due to leaks caused by plumbing failures, HVAC, irrigation, or appliances. Other causes of leaks include construction defects and failure to maintain the building's envelope.  

Points of Entry

Although water damage is typically classified as weather or non-weather-related event, the points of entry and structural impact are the same.  

Points of entry are often located in the following areas:









Water damage can escalate quickly. In addition, failure to address damage urgently can result in a water damage claim being denied altogether due to negligence. If the water intrusion is addressed immediately, only superficial damage will likely occur. However, if left unchecked, water intrusion can cause severe damage to both the structure of a building and threaten the health of individuals who occupy it. According to the American Insurance Associate, over 90% of these issues could have been avoided had proper care and maintenance been given to known minor problems.

Structural Impact

When a building experiences long-term exposure to moisture or a catastrophic weather event, the risk of damage to structural components significantly increases. Elements such as the foundation, wall, floor, and roof systems are at risk of failure when exposed to water damage. Also, consider that it only takes one point of weakness to impact the viability of an entire structure.  

Forum Forensics is Here to Help

Facing water damage with potential structural damage can be overwhelming. Forum is here and ready to investigate the source behind the water intrusion and assess any possible structural damage. Our team provides structural inspection and forensics assessments for residential and commercial construction. With a combined industry experience of over 115 years in the Southeast region, the Forum team is experienced in assessing water damage. Contact our team of experts today for a quote.

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